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[46.11]Parking Brake, adjusting

Handbrake Problem - Can't figure it out...
Year(s):  All
Model/Type:  Vanagon
Bentley Page(s):  46.11

From:  Mark Drillock

Symptom(s):  Parking brake won't adjust

Zoran Mladen wrote:
> Hey folks,
> I am having a strange problem on my 84 GL. The
> handbrake doesn't work very well. On my late model
> Vanagon, as you pull the handbrake, you feel the
> tension build as you pull the handbrake higher.
> On my 84, it seems like there is no tension, and then
> it gets very hard to pull all of a sudden. The brakes
> only hold marginally.
> I have removed both rear drums and watched the
> mechnaisms work as someone else pulled the handbrake.
> I have replaced both handbrake cables to no avail. I
> also replaced both rear drums with new drums and
> installed new rear brakes. I have tried adjustment as
> well - all that does is move the point at which the
> brake goes from pulling easy to pulling hard.
> I am stumped. Any thoughts on this? Anyone else
> experiencing this?
> Z

The parking brake handle was improved several ways during the 1985 model
year. The improved one is longer for better pulling leverage and is
shaped for a more comfortable fit in your hand. The biggest improvement
was that they added more and finer teeth to the ratcheting part of the
mechanism. This makes it easier to pull it to a tighter setting as it
does not have to move as far between clicks. The newer lever can be
easily installed in place of the early type but the adjusting cable nut
must be slackened about an inch first.

There is another possibility for poor parking brake performance. If
someone has misadjusted the cable then the small lever inside the brake
drum can bottom out on a metal surface BEFORE the shoes are pushed into
the drum. When this happens the brake won't hold the vehicle no matter
how hard the handbrake lever is pulled. This is a common problem. It is
often due to a non-working self adjusting mechanism in the rear brakes.
As the brake shoes wear the self adjuster is supposed to compensate.
When it does not, the parking brake will get looser and someone may
decide to simply tighten the cable nut to try to improve the parking
brake. This is a bad thing to do as it does not fix the true problem but
only masks it for a while.

The Bentley says to loosen the parking cable nut as one of the first
steps in repairing the rear brakes. If this is not done, the result will
eventually be a non-working parking brake. Once the rear brakes are
repaired and everything is in spec THEN you tighten up the cable to
adjust the parking brake. Driveway hacks screw this up all the time.


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