Adjusting The Handbrake

How To Adjust The Handbrake?

The handbrake plays a huge role in any vehicle. Its primary use is for parking purposes. It can, however, double as an emergency brake in case your hydraulic braking system fails while you drive. Adjusting the handbrake thus ensures you identify and fix any arising problems before they escalate and make driving dangerous.

The handbrake can become too loose or too tight. Different circumstances cause these, and you can easily know when the handbrake needs adjusting. When you apply the handbrake, the average number of clicks is between five and eight. This shows that the handbrake is at the correct tightness level and is effective. However, if the clicks are too high, it shows that the handbrake system is too loose and needs adjusting. In some cases, your handbrake will easily fail to maintain your car in parking mode, causing movements.

How to Identify A Need For Adjusting

If the clicks are too few, it shows the handbrake system is too tight. It becomes hard to adjust and apply the handbrake. You thus have to readjust it to the correct click amounts for the best performance. An additional indicator that your vehicle needs adjusting the handbrake is when it moves after parking it. If you park the vehicle and find it moving, your handbrake needs adjusting.

It also shows when the handbrake is too hard to apply, and you need a lot of effort. It will also be difficult to apply in emergencies and easily cause accidents. In these circumstances, it is necessary to adjust the handbrake to perform optimally. Parking the vehicle on a slope helps test the effectiveness of your handbrake, and you can begin adjustments.

How To Adjust The Handbrake

The main purpose of adjusting the handbrake is to lengthen or shorten the cable. Understanding how the handbrake system works helps you identify what is causing the problem. When you apply the handbrake, it tags on the primary handbrake cable. It runs through the axle and additional levers that pull on a Bowden cable. Finally, it will tag the brake drums to cause the braking effect. You should adjust these various cables for the handbrake to correct the errors. This is how you can adjust the various cables in the handbrake.

#1. Adjusting The Primary And Secondary Cables

The primary cable is tagged on when you apply the handbrake. It runs from the handbrake box to a lever which transmits the pressure to the secondary cables and eventually applies the brakes. Adjusting this cable will thus make the system work better, and the braking becomes more efficient. Firstly, open the handbrake box and unscrew the bolts that hold it in place.

Tag the cable until it is tight enough and screw it back in place. You can also adjust the other end of the primary cable and later the secondary cables. Hold your vehicle in place with an axle stand and remove the tires for better visibility. Free the nuts holding the primary cable to the relay lever and tighten it before closing the locknut.

Furthermore, you can also adjust the secondary cable in this way. Free them from their locknuts and tag on them until you achieve the right tension amount. Now tighten the locknuts, and the primary and secondary cables have the right tension. The handbrake adjustment is now complete.

#2. Adjusting The Bowden Cable

The Bowden cable links the secondary cables to the brake drums. When you apply the handbrake, it tags on them, causing the vehicle to stop. Tightening or loosening it is thus an important part of adjusting the handbrake. First, raise the wheels on which your handbrake applies. It gives you enough room and visibility to make the adjustments. Secondly, set the handbrake to three clicks and observe the changes in the cable.

Loosen the locknuts holding it in place, and tag on the cable tightenings. You can now lock the nuts back and tighten the adjuster nut until it is firmly in place. Ensure there is no wheel movement when the handbrake is still applied before fully tightening the adjuster cables and the locknut. The Bowden cable will now be tight enough, and the handbrake will work effectively.

#3. Adjusting The Twin Cables

Begin by releasing the handbrake lever and supporting the tires with an axle. The adjusters for the twin cables are at the lower end of your handbrake lever. Pulling out the carpet cover on your handbrake reveals them, and you can begin to make the adjustments. Screw the nuts open to free the locknut holding the cables in place before you can begin making the adjustments.

Adjust the cables and nuts until the handbrake registers five clicks. This is the correct amount, and you can begin tightening the screws in place. Ensure you have the right resistance to keep the braking effect on the vehicle. The wheels should turn freely when the handbrake is engaged. This thus shows that adjusting the handbrake is working well and that your system will work as required.

#4. Adjusting Disc-pad Handbrakes

The handbrake in most vehicles operates on the rear wheels. When the disc pads wear out, the handbrake becomes ineffective and thus will not work effectively. Adjusting these pads corrects the problem. Firstly, raise the vehicle with an axle to have enough room to adjust. Disable the handbrake before making these adjustments.

Loosen the screws and expose the nuts holding the brake caliper. Now, turn the adjustment nuts on the disc pads until they are stiff enough. You can tell this by trying to turn the wheels with your hand. If it is firm enough, tighten the locknuts and other previously unscrewed nuts, and complete the adjustment. These are important steps in adjusting the handbrake.


Adjusting the handbrake makes parking your vehicle safe. You can test that the brake is effective by parking your vehicle on a slight slope and engaging the handbrake. If the vehicle remains firmly in place, the adjustment was successful. Driving and parking the vehicle is effective, and your safety is guaranteed.