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Handbrake adjustment

The emergency brake, e-brake, hand brake, or whatever you wish to call it, sometimes gets to feeling loose, where it will no longer hold the car steady in your driveway or provide any semblance of "emergency" stopping power. It's easy to tighten, though. Here's how.

Time Required:
10 minutes

Tools Needed:

  • Ratchet
  • 10mm deep socket
  • 3" ratchet extension
  • Philips screwdriver


    First off, I need to mention something. When the handbrake isn't grabbing like it should, you really should first check the handbrake cable to make sure it's still intact and connected properly, and you should also check your rear brake pads. This is genuinely a "ghetto" way to get a few extra miles out of your rear pads if they're worn down, but this hack also comes in handy if your brake cable has stretched a bit. This site has a disclaimer notice on every page, so I'll save my breath (Er, fingers)

    First, remove the front cupholder inserts (if equipped), exposing two philips-head screws

    Next, firmly grasp the rear cupholder and coin-holder as shown below, and pull upwards. If you have a center console arm-rest, the procedure may be vastly different.

    Then, with the ratchet, 10mm socket and extension, remove the 3 nuts holding the rear of the center console down

    Remove the philips screws in the front cupholders

    Next, make sure the shifter boot is disconnected. You can try to do it the way it's shown in the photo below, or you can simply remove the knob by twisting it counter-clockwise, and the boot will stay on the console but slide off of the shifter.

    Pull the handbrake lever up as far as you can, which is probably really far if you're reading this article

    The center console should lift up and out with a little maneuvering. pull the handbrake boot up over the handle while removing the console.

    Once the console is removed, you'll see a nut attached to a threaded spindle on the driver's side of the handbrake. Get on it with the 10mm deep socket and start tightening. Righty-tighty, lefty loosey! Put your finger under the handbrake cable that's exposed behind the lever to feel how loose it is. When it starts putting pressure on your finger, you've probably got it tight enough, or close. Over-tightening it will result in damage to your braking system and you might actually lock your rear wheels up, making it impossible to drive. Use common sense.

    Here's a picture of my spindle after I tightened mine. My handbrake was almost completely ineffective before I tightened it, your mileage may vary

    You might want to test the brake before putting everything back together. When adjusted properly, somewhere between 5-8 clicks will provide a good hold on the brakes. If it's hard to pull after just one or 2 clicks, you're way too tight. Re-assemble everything in reverse order once you're satisfied.

    Closing note: If you tighten the handbrake, you may have to take it apart again to loosen it before you can replace the rear brake pads or drums.

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