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E-Brake Occasionally Slips

Discussion in 'E46 (1999-2006)' started by EvaUnit02, Oct 14, 2010.

    • Member

    EvaUnit02

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    I've a 2001 330xi and twice in as many months, the e-brake didn't catch completely. Rather, the car started to coast downhill ever so slightly. When releasing and re-engaging the e-brake, it caught properly. What could be the cause of this?
    • Member

    bcweir

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    Somehow your e-brake cables have gotten out of adjustment.

    Over time, these cables can stretch slightly, meaning they don't hold the emergency brake drum in place properly as a result.

    Give me a moment while I search for the proper adjustment procedure. It's not difficult to do, but if you're not mechanically inclined, it's best to round up someone who is for this.

    The PROPER way to do it is not really fast or easy.

    Typing from memory, so I may miss a step, but the basic concept is the same:
    Part 1: The adjuster screw in the parking brake mechanism in the rear wheel - #4 in the diagram below.
    - Raise the whole rear end, safely support the car on jack stands.
    - Release the parking brake.
    - Remove one lug bolt, rotate the rear wheel so that the adjustment screw is lined up with the hole. This is at about the 2 o'clock position I think. You don't HAVE to remove the wheel, but I found it much easier to do so.
    - Use a flat-head screwdriver to adjust the adjustment screw until you can not turn the wheel by hand.
    - Back off the adjustment screw by three or four turns so that you can spin the wheel by hand.
    - Repeat for the other side.

    --- Intermission, go wash your hands and arms so you don't get your interior dirty ---

    Part 2: The adjustment of the cable
    - Remove the interior console cover. You MIGHT be able to get this done by only removing the e-brake boot; I wasn't able to.
    - Adjust the nuts on one parking brake cable until you can only lift the handle by about 6-8 clicks. Mark or remember this position, then back it off a few turns.
    - Adjust the nuts on the other parking brake cable until you can only lift the handle by 6-8 clicks.
    - Re-adjust the nuts on the first cable until they are back in the position you marked or remembered.


    Check your work - with the parking brake all the way released, both wheels should spin pretty freely. With the parking brake up 2-3 clicks you might start to feel some resistance in the rear wheels. With the parking brake up 4-6 clicks you should feel significant resistance. With the parking brake all the way up 6-8 clicks, you should not be able to turn the rear wheels.

    Both wheels are adjusted independently, and you must adjust both the screw in the hub as well as the nuts on the cable, otherwise the parking brake shoes will not put even pressure on the rear rotor.

    Or there is the page from the E32 7-series Bentley manual. Yes I know you have an E46 3-series, but the procedure should be similar.

    For future reference, it's highly adviseable that you purchase a Bentley manual for your car. As your car ages, its maintenance needs are going to increase. Doing your own repairs will save you a lot of money vs. going to the dealer (yipe! $$!!) or going to an independent BMW service professional (not as expensive but still not cheap).

    You can purchase a Bentley manual from Bentley Publishing at http://www.bentleypublishing.com
    • Member

    EvaUnit02

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    Thanks a lot!
    • Member

    bcweir

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    Sure! One other thing....

    When you climb back into the car while the rear wheels are hoisted, climb in very slowly and carefully, and ALWAYS use a good set of jackstands to support the car at both jacking points on a level surface!

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