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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 02-01-2009, 03:07 PM
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Johnny Canada Johnny Canada is offline
2003 530 5 speed
Location: Hamilton Ontario
 
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Parking (emergency) brake with manual transmission. Does yours work?

My 530 parking brake is pretty much useless. I just assumed that the P-brake shoes were worn or the cable was out of adjustment.

I was recently told by Mr.Zeckhausen, "That regardless of mileage, the parking brake on our cars is junk. Just a bad design that will never hold the car. Don't ever trust it to hold your car on the slightest incline. Just leave it in gear".

Does anyone have a manual transmission car with a parking brake that can securely hold it with the transmission in neutral?
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  #2  
Old 02-01-2009, 03:11 PM
armysweitzer armysweitzer is offline
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Mein Auto: RB20 S13/ 1997 540i/6
mine works. I followed instructions (forget where) to adjust the tightness. It works pretty good, I wouldn't trust it in San Francisco but other then that it holds the car. I do leave it in gear as well though.
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  #3  
Old 02-01-2009, 03:15 PM
Waveho Waveho is offline
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It's garbage. Holds okay unless you are on a pretty steep incline. Always throw mine into 3rd in combination with the brake.
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  #4  
Old 02-01-2009, 03:18 PM
frhsfootball80 frhsfootball80 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waveho View Post
It's garbage. Holds okay unless you are on a pretty steep incline. Always throw mine into 3rd in combination with the brake.
in third? ive had my car roll in 3rd while i was in it...id put it in first to be safe.
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  #5  
Old 02-01-2009, 03:42 PM
Waveho Waveho is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frhsfootball80 View Post
in third? ive had my car roll in 3rd while i was in it...id put it in first to be safe.
That's true and I used to do so all the time, and I generally will if I'm on a REALLY steep incline, but I've been kinda "floating" around, leaving it in different gears when parked. I'd read that there could be premature wear to certain parts if you tend to ALWAYS leave it in the same gear. Maybe it's urban legend, but just to be sure....
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  #6  
Old 02-01-2009, 03:48 PM
arucano arucano is offline
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Mein Auto: '03 530I/S blk/blk
I have an '03 530 5sp and the handbrake works fine. I just get a little squeeking in the back which the tech told me is common.

Regards

Chet
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  #7  
Old 02-01-2009, 03:54 PM
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dannyc9997 dannyc9997 is offline
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Mine holds my car even in my fairly steep driveway (although I have an auto). One thing about these cars is the E-brake is much different than a normal setup. Its a seperate brake that works independently from the cars foot brake system, meaning if your pedal goes to the floor your E-brake should still work, unless you have both fail at the same time which would be very unlikely.
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  #8  
Old 02-01-2009, 04:07 PM
GSXRYDER GSXRYDER is offline
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Ebrake

in my 540 Holds great. The Nature of the ebrake is it is mechanically 'cable' controlled vs hydraulic controlled like the rest of the brakes.
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  #9  
Old 02-01-2009, 05:25 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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I ave 3 cars and the Parking Brake for the E39 is the worst! Piece of junk that barely holds the car.

My 98 volvo V70 Parking Brake is amazing.

I have always out it in 1st gear for the last 20 years and a whole bunch of diff manual trans cars.
Never have a single problem with the man trans box.

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  #10  
Old 12-16-2009, 04:54 PM
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Mein Auto: 2000 e39 touring
SO any of you in here know how to adjust it.....???
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  #11  
Old 12-16-2009, 05:33 PM
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gtxragtop gtxragtop is offline
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My 03 530 parking brake has never worked well. Even after all adjustments were made. Apparently BMW suggests to pull it up while going down the road to clean off the shoes. Does not work for me. I suspect the shoes are glazed and need replacing. Since mine is an automatic and it works well enough to pass inspection, the hell with it. When I need to replace the rotors, I'll put in new shoes.
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  #12  
Old 12-16-2009, 05:43 PM
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ztom ztom is offline
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Location: Thousand Oaks CA
 
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Mein Auto: 1997 528i
Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
I ave 3 cars and the Parking Brake for the E39 is the worst! Piece of junk that barely holds the car.

My 98 volvo V70 Parking Brake is amazing.

I have always out it in 1st gear for the last 20 years and a whole bunch of diff manual trans cars.
Never have a single problem with the man trans box.

98 bmw 528i
98 volvo v70
07 honda odyssey van
+1 my e-brake is not good either, even after adjusting the screws at the base of the lever.

It did work well after I rode around a little with the brake partially engaged just to clean off the wear surfaces, but not enough to cause serious heating. The improved hold doesn't last and after awhile I need to do it again.

I've driven an manual all my life so I'm very aware in cases where I need to put it in gear to make sure it doesn't roll. My biggest concern is if a valet or someone else drives it. The only reason I don't always put it in gear is cases where another driver may bump my car when they park; I don't want that force to transfer up into the drive train.
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  #13  
Old 12-16-2009, 05:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannyc9997 View Post
Mine holds my car even in my fairly steep driveway (although I have an auto)


3rd is a bad idea. I use 1st or reverse depending on the direction.
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  #14  
Old 12-16-2009, 06:12 PM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwrus View Post
SO any of you in here know how to adjust it.....???
Detailed instructions in the Bentley. Basically pull off rear wheels, pull off hub, check pads, adjust screw, reassemble.
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  #15  
Old 12-16-2009, 08:14 PM
emPoWaH emPoWaH is offline
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The only use I've had for the E39's hand brake is for scrubbing off speeds on the highway without getting the attention of the police car behind you...
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  #16  
Old 12-16-2009, 08:55 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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I checked a few different forums, the Parking Brake in the E39 is weak from the factory.

So now the $1M question: has anyone used another aftermarket brake shoes and improved the parking brake holding power?
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  #17  
Old 12-16-2009, 09:51 PM
Max_VQ Max_VQ is offline
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My parking brake couldn't hold my car in my ~2% incline driveway.

I took off the rear rotor and noticed the brake shoes were glazed and dark in colour. I used medium emery paper and removed the glaze. The shoes then turned a light brown. My rear discs also had a lot of corrosion on the drum part and I replaced the rear rotors and pads.

Since then the parking brake will hold the car on any hill AND once a week I apply the parking brake when rolling to a red light to keep the surfaces rust free.

See attached pic.
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  #18  
Old 12-16-2009, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emPoWaH View Post
The only use I've had for the E39's hand brake is for scrubbing off speeds on the highway without getting the attention of the police car behind you...
I would not do this. When I was a kid someone in my school put the handbrake on to slow, one wheel locked, the car spun and hit a telephone pole.
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  #19  
Old 12-17-2009, 06:48 AM
Jase007 Jase007 is offline
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Mein Auto: e39 528it
The parking brake on my touring works fine. That is with new rotors and scuffed parking brake shoes. Regardless, I do what one poster above mentioned ... put it in 1st or reverse depending on which way car is facing on incline.
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  #20  
Old 12-17-2009, 07:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 16hr Day View Post


3rd is a bad idea. I use 1st or reverse depending on the direction.
If I had a manual I wouldnt use third either. Just use the brake and 1st/R
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  #21  
Old 12-17-2009, 08:22 AM
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chivas chivas is offline
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mine is weird. on an incline, it holds. on a decline, it doesn't. go figure.... still need to do a little adjustment plus brakes are on deck this spring so i'mma gonna have a looksie when i do them
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  #22  
Old 12-17-2009, 08:40 AM
msj67 msj67 is offline
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I have an E39 w/ manual transmission, and I use the parking brake at times to hold the car while it's running and the car is in neutral. I also noticed the parking brake was very weak, so I asked my mechanic to look at it when the car was in the shop, and he said the parking brake shoes were completely missing! They simply fell off at some point, so it was metal on metal contact with the rotor if I used the hand brake. Luckily, the rotor wasn't damaged, and I got the shoes replaced and he tightened up the brake so now it seems to be holding pretty well.
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  #23  
Old 12-17-2009, 09:17 AM
Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 540i
I also have an E39 with an essentially useless parking brake.

Always put in reverse when facing downhill, and put it in 1st when parking uphill.
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  #24  
Old 12-17-2009, 10:29 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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The next time I work on my REAR brake (maybe in the Spring of 2010), I am tempted to use a wire brush (on an electric drill) to "roughen up" the REAR rotor's inner surface (where the brake shoes make contact with the inner drum) and hopefully the brake shoes will "bite" better when the surface is "rough".

Good idea? Bad idea?
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  #25  
Old 12-20-2009, 10:08 PM
ceepla ceepla is offline
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bump.


Wow. I have the same problem with the parking brake. My parking brake is USELESS. I've actually had it almost roll on me once. But my parking brake really does NOTHING.
I saw that you may need to 'adjust the tightness'. How do I do this? I really no nothing about cars but am willing to learn anything for my e34.
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