When press the brake pedal, you expect your vehicle to slow down. If it doesn’t, an emergency handbrake can help bring you to a stop. (It’s the same lever you use as a parking brake on an incline.)
With a Mini Cooper, the handbrake needs to be adjusted from time to time to adequately apply pressure on your brakes.
How do you adjust the handbrake on a Mini Cooper? This relatively common procedure is straightforward and, with a bit of time investment, can be done by an average DIYer in their garage by following these steps.
Step 1: Position your Mini Cooper safely
To work on your Mini Cooper safety, or any car for that matter, it should be secured in position so it can’t roll or move unexpectedly. Usually you’d use the handbrake or parking brake, but that’s what you’re working on so you need an alternate safety method.
Park your car on a flat surface and shut off your engine. Put your auto transmission in Park, or a manual transmission in first gear. This should prevent rolling, but it’s important to have a second safety in place. Position wheel chocks or wedges in front and behind the front wheels.
Step 2: Lift a rear wheel off the ground
The parking brake manually applies the brakes on the rear wheels to provide the holding power when the lever is pulled. One parking brake cable runs to each rear wheel caliper. You’ll need the ability to check its operation by spinning a rear wheel by hand.
Using a tire jack, lift one rear corner so the wheel is off the ground completely. For safety, rest the car’s rear subframe on an axle stand or block.
Step 3: Check the parking brake tension
It’s easy to check the parking brake’s current tension. With gloves on, spin the rear wheel while it’s off the ground. Gradually apply the parking brake, one click at a time, checking when it begins to grab. You should feel resistance after two clicks and be unable to move a wheel by hand within one or two more.
Step 4: Lift the handbrake boot
To adjust the parking brake, you need to access the adjuster nut on the handbrake lever. It’s located under the handbrake boot inside your car. Gently but firmly, pull up on the boot at the front first, then from the rear. It’s held in with spring clips, so it’s relatively easy to do.
In front of the handbrake lever, a wedge-shaped metal plate has a nut on it. That’s your adjuster nut.
Step 5: Adjust the cable tension
A little at a time, tighten the adjuster nut on the handbrake lever until you achieve the recommended tension. Make your adjustments when the handbrake is fully released, otherwise you’ll stretch and damage the cables.
Step 6: Re-check its operation and readjust
With every adjustment, recheck your parking brake operation. You might tighten it a little too much, causing drag at the rear wheels without the parking brake engaged at all. If that happens, loosen the cable slightly and recheck. Find the sweet spot that works for you.
Once you’re done, put the handbrake boot back in place and lower your car, then remove the wheel chocks. Try the handbrake to make sure it’s working as intended.
Step 7: Address other issues if necessary
If you reach the end of your handbrake adjustment and it still won’t hold, or if you can’t loosen the handbrake enough to alleviate tension at the rear wheels completely, you might need to replace a parking brake cable. They can either stretch over time and with use, or seize and become inoperable.