BMW E36 Blog

BMW E36 Handbrakes adjustment!

8th February 2007

BMW E36 Handbrakes adjustment!

posted in Brakes, Do It Yourself, Technical Info |

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Hello my friends,


I was looking for information about BMW E36 and I found this article about how to adjust BMW E36 handbrakes. Every time I pull the handbrake, I notice that it goes far more than it should and I notice also that it doesn’t stop the car 100%. Usually, when I release the brake pedal, after pulling the handbrake, the car moves slightly and then stops. This shouldn’t happen and the following procedure should fix this problem. So, if your car is like mine, then you have some work to do instead of reading this post . . . well, you can finish reading this post and then do the work 😉


Disclaimer: Use this procedure at your own risk!! There’s no way you can blame me for breaking your car this time ..ok ? then proceed 🙂


To adjust the handbrake you need to carefully pull up the leather gaiter by the rear of the base base and pull out of the way it turn until it’s inside out. Put the car in 5th gear and slowly release the handbrake. Undo the top locking nut and adjust the handbrake travel by tightening or loosening the lower bolts i.e. tightening makes the travel shorter.



The handbrake is adjusted correctly when it takes between 5 and 10 clicks to be fully on, you can check both rear brakes are equally adjusted by slowly rolling the car forwards and stopping it on the handbrake, if you feel it rocks the car, the side that rises first is this side that is braking more than the other so either loosen it off a bit or tighten up the other side, don’t rely on looking at the two threads and adjusting each one until they are equal as this doesn’t take into account cable stretch and differing pad wear etc – this can clearly be seen in the picture.


Once they are adjusted equally tighten the top locking bolts and clip the handbrake leather gating back into place.


Are you looking for more do it yourself procedures (DIY) ? I recommend the Bentley BMW 3 series service manual for you. I got it and I think it’s a gold mine for us -BMW E36 Owners-. If you didn’t grab your copy yet, get it right now! I’m sure you’ll find this book worth every penny you’ve paid for. Get the Bentley BMW 3 series service manual


Wait for more from . . . BMW E36 Blog


Best regards,

Tony Sticks.

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There are currently 5 responses to “BMW E36 Handbrakes adjustment!”

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  1. 1 On April 6th, 2007, dru100 said:

    great blog, i was just hoping for more technical stuff on engine performance and trouble shooting tips is there any chance of getting such

  2. 2 On April 6th, 2007, Tony Sticks said:

    Thanks Dru,

    I usually try to write about technical stuff and to write about fun stuff to spice the blog a bit because it sometimes seems very cool that I simply can’t resist.

    In the future, I promise I will try to put more technical articles that are related to engines and trouble shooting.

    really glad to hear from you. Thanks again!

  3. 3 On November 16th, 2008, Art Tafil (Old F-4 PhantomPilot) said:

    This is a great article. I just purchased my forst E34, 318i 4door, 5-Speed.
    The parking/emergency brake doesn’t do much and this article helped me adjust it.
    Great Job Guy’s!!

  4. 4 On January 17th, 2009, Craig said:

    so there is no adjustment at the wheels?

    sweet might just have to give it a go this afternoon

  5. 5 On January 18th, 2009, Art Tafil (Old F-4 PhantomPilot) said:

    The way I adjust my handbrake cables to obtain even braking is once I think that I’ve got the bolts & jamb-nuts tightened, I accelerate the car to 10~15 MPH, put the clutch in and yank hard on the handbrake handle, locking the rear wheels. Check the skid marks or feel if the car is tracking in a straight line, if it is and the handbrake handle clicks between 5~8 clicks to full engagement, you’re OK. If not, or the car pulls one way or the other, adjust that side cable & retry again.
    Works for me. If you have an automatic transmission, just pop it in neutral to do the handbrake pull.

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