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Old 11-13-2011, 08:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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E-brake adjustment that works.

While preparing my car for the long winter I decided to do a few adjustments I had been putting off. Since there has been some discussion in the past about our parking brake and its adjustment I decided to post this to show another way of adjusting other than the simple adjustment shown in the user manual. You will need a couple of special tools to preform this but the procedure is not above the novice ability level.

Here is a pic of the items you will need.

3/8's drive and extension

regular or needle nose pliers

flat head screwdriver

7mm allen socket (shown here) or wrench

disk brake piston remover (can be purchased at auto parts store for around 12 bucks)

(jack and jack stands not shown)
[IMG][/IMG]

First you need to raise the rear end (you can do one wheel at a time if more convenient) and place the car on stands. Remove the rear wheels and then remove the rear brake caliper. You don't need to do any more than remove the two pins holding the caliper on, no need to unhook any of the brake fluid lines to do this.

Once you have the wheel removed use the screw driver and pry off the wire retaining clips shown her. Take note of how the wire is hooked to the caliper support so you will get it back together correctly. Be careful not to let it fly off and take note that they are inserted in the caliper at an angle as this will be handy when reinstalling them.
[IMG][/IMG]

Locate the two 7 mm allen caliper bolts located on the rear of the caliper. You will have to remove the small black dust cover to access the pins shown here.
[IMG][/IMG]

No need to pull the pins completely out, all you need to do is be able to pull the caliper loose. The pads do not have to be removed either but they may fall if this happens just set them back in when you are ready to replace the caliper.


Now you are ready to do the adjustment.
First you will need to figure out which part of the tool fits you brake this is a trail and error process so once you find it place the tool on the extension so you will have it for the other side.
With the adjustment tool inserted into the two holes in the caliper shown below apply inward pressure and rotate the piston clock wise until it stops. You will in most cases only turn it about one or two turns.

[IMG][/IMG]

Tool inserted
[IMG][/IMG]

You are now finished with the adjustment. Slide the caliper back over the pads and tighten the two caliper pins and replace the plastic covers. Now use the needle nose pliers to replace the wire retainer and remember that the holes are at an angle when replacing it. Be careful here as there is a lot of tension on this wire.
[IMG][/IMG]

Once you have done the other side get in the vehicle and push the brake pedal down about half way and release, repeat until the pedal is firm. Your e-brake should now only move about two clicks and hold as intended.
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Old 11-14-2011, 02:57 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Great write-up, thanks!
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Old 11-14-2011, 07:52 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I PNT this out for my books on the Sky.
Thank you,
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Old 11-18-2011, 08:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I bought my car used, and it didn't come with an owner's manual (which is really annoying... does anyone know where I can get one?) so I don't know what they're telling you in there. The "adjustment" you made isn't really an adjustment... that's just how you get the pistons fully retracted when you are installing new pads.
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Old 11-18-2011, 10:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kudelt07 View Post
I bought my car used, and it didn't come with an owner's manual (which is really annoying... does anyone know where I can get one?) so I don't know what they're telling you in there. The "adjustment" you made isn't really an adjustment... that's just how you get the pistons fully retracted when you are installing new pads.
You can download the owners manuals here:

Saturn | Saturn Vehicle Owners Manuals
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Old 11-18-2011, 10:49 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The "adjustment" you made isn't really an adjustment... that's just how you get the pistons fully retracted when you are installing new pads.
Correct. But there's a known issue where the rear pistons can seize or bind in place. This may not be noticeable in footbrake use, since most stopping power is from the fronts, but it certainly affects the handbrake. The OP's procedure will (hopefully) un-bind the pistons if this happens to be your issue. If it's not your issue it won't improve anything (but nor will it hurt).
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Old 11-18-2011, 01:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Don't remove the caliper. Just remove one bolt and rotate the caliper down. You also don't need the special tool. Needle nose pliers work just fine to rotate it.
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Old 11-18-2011, 07:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kudelt07 View Post
I bought my car used, and it didn't come with an owner's manual (which is really annoying... does anyone know where I can get one?) so I don't know what they're telling you in there. The "adjustment" you made isn't really an adjustment... that's just how you get the pistons fully retracted when you are installing new pads.
Actually he's right. Before I changed my pads,the EB would barely hold the vehicle in place with the lever all the way up. Now 2 clicks and holds tight.
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Old 11-18-2011, 07:16 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Great time to repaint them.
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Old 11-20-2011, 11:36 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Maybe I'm missing something but why would pushing the pistons in fix the e-brake? As soon as you hit the brakes they'll just go back to the same position they were before.
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Old 11-20-2011, 02:02 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Maybe I'm missing something but why would pushing the pistons in fix the e-brake? As soon as you hit the brakes they'll just go back to the same position they were before.
Read my post two above yours! Doh!
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Old 11-21-2011, 08:09 PM   #12 (permalink)
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the piston ratchets. you arnt just compressing it, you are screwing it in.
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Old 11-21-2011, 10:39 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Helpful. Cool. Neighbors wondered why my car - last seen parked in the inclined driveway last night - was out in the street this morning.

"Uh... that was like that when I got here."
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Old 11-22-2011, 09:31 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by TomatoSoup View Post
Correct. But there's a known issue where the rear pistons can seize or bind in place. This may not be noticeable in footbrake use, since most stopping power is from the fronts, but it certainly affects the handbrake. The OP's procedure will (hopefully) un-bind the pistons if this happens to be your issue. If it's not your issue it won't improve anything (but nor will it hurt).
Ah, I see. I wasn't aware of the issue with the rear pistons. I don't know how Continental still sells calipers... they always have tons of problems (mostly with noise), and I don't think they're that cheap.

As for why they have to be screwed in, the piston will self adjust as usual as the pads wear. However, the parking brake travel is limited by the geometry in the apply system (handle, cable, and linkage on the caliper). As the piston moves out, the parking brake mechanism has to move with it. This is typically done with a screw. Thus, when you retract the piston, you have to also screw the parking brake mechanism back into the caliper bore. Chances are the rear pads wear so slowly on these cars that the PB assembly can seize up on the screw from lack of movement.

Oh, and in the case of this car, I'd recommend trying needle nose pliers. None of the piston tools that you can get at a typical auto parts store fit in these calipers (they're all too big).
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Old 11-22-2011, 02:01 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Oh, and in the case of this car, I'd recommend trying needle nose pliers. None of the piston tools that you can get at a typical auto parts store fit in these calipers (they're all too big).
I have one word for you: "Dremel"!

I have the brake kit from Harbor Freight. That worked great for mine and much easier to use than the multi-face cubes (if they fit).

The older (fewer part) version of this:

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Last edited by TomatoSoup; 11-22-2011 at 02:17 PM.
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