Audi A3 Handbrake Cable Replacement (including Guide tubes)
Article Date: 28/02/2022
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This isn't a "how to" guide like I normally prefer to write, because quite simply I did it the fastest way what works for me. I've been doing a lot of work on the car lately, and honestly couldn't be bothered to do it the proper way as I'd been working two full days non stop and had numerous problems to deal with. I didn't remove the centre console as it was more screws. I opted for a faster method of cutting the carpet on the car. The majority of it will be hidden and I can use carpet glue and a black spray to cover up the damage anyway. This document is just intended as a guide so you have points of reference if you're stuck.
10mm Spanner (not pictured) for Handbrake compensator
Part numbers for handbrake cable replacement
Please note, the only parts actually required are the Guide tubes, I wanted new Springs / Clips too aswell, so I've added them below if needed. The below numbers are the prices I paid at VW Durham UK. I've also added other part numbers you may find useful if you're thinking of doing the work yourself
Body Clip x2 (1K0609734C) - £5.98
Torx Screw x2 (N10285402) - £0.94
Guide Tubes (1K0711951A and 1K0711952A) - £19.18
Handbrake Cable x2 (1K0609721BE) The last two letters may be different, it normally denotes the version, as long as it matches the part number it will be fine to use
Body Grommets (1J0711487A)
Handbrake cables video Audi A3
How I replaced the handbrake cables in my Audi A3
Jack up vehicle and place it onto Axle stands for safety, I also put the wheels under the sill for a bit more safety
Make sure the handbrake is down on the car
These are the guide tubes that fit into the car, they route the cable under neath the carpet into the handbrake. If you cut or bend these it causes problems. Replace them, they're cheap from the dealer
I've included a picture of my old guide tube and the new handbrake cable. The little black grommet (near the white bit) is normally what gets stuck in the tube. I tried cutting / drilling it with no luck. You can see the old black grommet stuck in the tube
If you need to remove the old handbrake cable. The handbrake cable is attached under the body using a T30 screw and a spring further up.
Remove the old handbrake using a 10mm spanner for the compensator. You get access to this by removing the ashtray from the rear (I also removed the arm rest) You can see how unbalanced my old one was
There's a bit of ducting that's worth removing to give easier access. This is why I purchased new screws, less chance of rounding / breaking
In order to remove the ducting guard to get easier access to the handbrake cables, you need to pop out the rivets with something like a screwdriver and hammer. There are two of them. You can see their locations in the above pics
Remove the rear seat if you're fitting guide tubes. I'll assume you're doing this, because removing the handbrakes has been a pain for me both times. I find it makes it a lot easier to get access when you're replacing the guide tubes. Just give a hard pull at the front corners to lift up the seat base. If you're replacing the guide tubes I wouldn't be too fussed about pulling them out at this point. They're easy to fit once you've got access via the carpet.
Fold the rear seat bench forward so you get access to the boot. There are a couple of torx screws you need to remove which will help you lift up the panel nearest the floor (Not pictured), follow the seatbelt you will find them they're basically near this. Or just follow the plastic trim upwards
Removing the cover on the seat trim is needed if you're lifting the carpet. They're on clips (2 that pop outwards near the seatbelt, and the rest are just on clips that pull up from the floor. You will probably find it easiest to disconnect the panel nearest the seatbelt first.
As a note, I actually discovered (surprised I didn't think of it), that the seatbelt portion simply clips behind a plastic flap which opens up. So you can unclip the seatbelt from the plastic when you remove the panels
Once you've done all these, you can start lifting the carpet
In this picture you can see where I've cut the carpet on my car (in the centre). It's probably easier using a pry bar for this. You'd be surprised how thick the insulation is on this carpet (way thicker than my Golf)
This is just the part number for the grommet that goes through the body of the car if you need it. It's the same either side, part number is 1J0711487A.
I found the tube was sticking to the grommet which made fitting a pain. So I put silicone grease on the tube too.
In the above picture I've shown the routing of the guide tubes. I found it easier putting the tube down through the car first and then slightly lifting / bending the tube into the slot for the handbrake under the carpet. This is why I needed to cut the carpet a lot. Otherwise you risk damaging the tube. I used the pry bar to help me lift the carpet too. If you remove the surround on the gearbox I'm sure it makes this step loads easier. Depends how much time you want to spend doing the job (or how much it bothers you)
As a note, the guide tubes have a notched/raised bit near the end. This is the part which goes into the handbrake side. This notch prevents the tubes from being pushed too far in, so it's impossible to push these in further than they can be put in.
Attach the new handbrake cable to the caliper, pulling the hook and fitting it behind it
Once the handbrake is fitted to the caliper, attach the clip to the bodywork and handbrake cable. The clip uses a T30 Torx for fastening
When you refit the handbrake cables, you need to attach the springs to the cable. I found the replacement cables were thicker so made it difficult (I think this is why I used Pagid ones on my Golf). In order to fit these I ended up using the locking nose pliers to pull them into the cable by utilising it's clamping force on the spring / cable. A pair of pliers can probably do the same thing
This is an extra step I did incase I ever want to make removal of the handbrake cable easier the next time, I greased up the grommet. This is the part that normally seizes into the guide tube and causes you problems. I'm aware that silicone grease includes Petrol so isn't recommended for rubber. Quite frankly. I don't care, if it makes my life easier, it's being done. I don't want to keep buying new guide tubes.
Once you've greased it (or not), simply push the handbrake cable into the tube until it reaches the stop (where the grommet is). You won't be able to push it any further
Once you've pushed the cables through the guide tubes, it should look similar to this
Loosen the handbrake compensator nut until you can fit the handbrake cables into the section. Fit oneside and then fit the other. Then you can start tightening it. Try and keep it level
Tighten the compensator until the metal is pulled away from the stop no more than 1-3mm. You have replaced the handbrake cables, and now need to adjust them
ADJUSTING THE HANDBRAKES
The handbrake is adjusted automatically on your car. When you first replace the cables however you have to do a manual adjustment to set it up. This is the procedure
Fit the handbrake cables to the car first.
Turn the compensator until the stops on the handbrake are raised approx 1-3mm away from the metal
Apply the handbrake 3-4 times
The handbrake is then automatically adjusted and should need no further work. It's normally tight around 3-4 clicks
If you need a bit more bite, then turn the compensator a bit more (as long as the wheels lock up when the handbrake is applied it's fine). You don't want to make it overly tight or you simply stretch the cables when adjusting.
Here's some videos that may help you too, and the aftermath after I cut up my carpet. For the carpet I'm planning on using some glue / spray to set it down, then using some hair spray with fibres so it looks more OEM, or a stiff metal brush to scratch the hairs and covers it more. Some people may not like this approach, but it worked for me. Removing the centre console will make it easier but it involved taking more of the car apart I didn't want to.
This is what the carpet looks like refit back into the car. You can see in the above picture that I must have over tightened the cables as it's slightly unbalanced because I tightened it up a bit more when I first adjusted it. This is something to correct later, or just keep an eye on. The easiest way would just be to slacken it off and readjust the handbrake using hte original procedure and then leave it