How long does it take to fix an emergency brake?

My emergency brake isn’t working correctly. I’m a little bit handy with car repairs, but I’ve never fixed an emergency brake and I’m not sure what’s involved. How long does it take to fix an emergency brake? Should I take it to a shop instead?

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Answer provided by
Matt Terzi
Answered on Feb 11, 2022
With most brake repairs, we suggest taking the car to a mechanic as mistakes can be costly. But fixing the emergency brake is a moderate-level DIY repair for people with some experience working on cars.
Most mechanics should be able to fix an emergency brake in a few hours, or maybe longer if they’re busy. Doing it yourself at home should take one to three hours, give or take.
For this repair, you’ll need a floor jack and stands, wire cutters, pliers, a flat screwdriver, a socket wrench set, and a flashlight.
Here are the steps:
  • Jack up your car and support it with the stands.
  • Disconnect the emergency brake cable. Start in the rear and work your way to the front of the car, disconnecting any clips holding it up, and then disconnecting it from the pedal assembly.
  • Connect the new cable. This can get a bit finicky. You’ll need to patiently guide the new cable through tight holes and use your screwdriver to pry open cable clips. The new cable needs to be firmly attached to the pedal assembly and the rear assembly.
  • Make the line taut. There should be as little slack as possible.
  • Engage the parking brake and see if the tension is firm. You may need to make a few adjustments to get it just right.
Your emergency brake (also known as a parking brake or e-brake) is meant to stop the car if your primary braking system has failed. It’s also meant to keep the car from rolling or otherwise moving when you’re parked.
Your emergency brake handle or button pulls a cable that tightens up the rear brake pads or shoes, preventing them from rolling. Some modern cars with rear disc brakes have secondary drum brakes that prevent the primary brakes from taking damage if you drive with the parking brake on.
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