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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 05-06-2012, 02:53 PM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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e brake adjustment.

is it safe to assume that if i tighten the gold colored nuts under the e-brake shift boot that it will pull the cables tighter adjusting my parking brake?




and since your already here, can anyone tell me what this leather flap behind the arm rest is supposed to attach to? it appears to have the furry half of a velcro fastener strip on the back of the leather flap but i cant find the other strip it attaches to.

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  #2  
Old 05-06-2012, 03:03 PM
Darren1231 Darren1231 is offline
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Not sure about the hand brake as I thought they were all hydraulic in the e39 (most likely am way off though). But it seems like either your vehicle has the ski package where the perforated metal "blank" has been punched out so you can throw skis in your trunk. Anyway there is supposed to be a piece of plastic to cover the hole when not in use. and there is a piece of velcro to cover the unsightly ugliness of plastic (GROSS!) when your arm rest is down. It's purpose is purely aesthetic. I would find that plastic piece in like a junk yard they should be universal in the e39's. That is if you care. Oh and if you have bump in your trunk its just gonna rattle.
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  #3  
Old 05-06-2012, 03:18 PM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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yea its a piece of metal i think.
the door is there in the pic but its black so it looks like your looking into hole even thought the hole is covered.

you push up on the red dot to make the door pop open. There is no velcro on either side of the door





the diagram is hard to figure out but if im missing a peice let me know which number it is

http://realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?...65&hg=52&fg=20
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Last edited by Topaz540i; 05-06-2012 at 03:25 PM.
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  #4  
Old 05-06-2012, 03:30 PM
Darren1231 Darren1231 is offline
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Oh you have fold down seats! Nice! How ever I think there is still supposed to be that plastic piece in front of the backing of your seat. It is supposed to be almost flush when the leather cover is up.
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  #5  
Old 05-06-2012, 04:02 PM
Darren1231 Darren1231 is offline
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I have to apologise to you. I was totally thinking of my brother's old 328i. But I did go out and look at mine and the velcro is attached to the leather over hang and it is sewn. are you able to run your hand up behind that overhang and see if by chance your solution is there?
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  #6  
Old 05-06-2012, 04:06 PM
rdl rdl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Topaz540i View Post
is it safe to assume that if i tighten the gold colored nuts under the e-brake shift boot that it will pull the cables tighter adjusting my parking brake?

... stuff deleted ...
The parking brake should be adjusted at the rear wheels, not by the cable ends in your picture. Adjustment steps are:
1 release handbrake, i.e. lever down, so cable loose
2 adjust each parking brake with adjusters in the parking brake drums in rear brakes
3 last, test how many "clicks" on lever required to hold car
4 adjust cables at handbrake lever only if necessary - usually not

CN90 has written a DIY on parking brake renewal and adjustment with details for each step. Search best links.

Alternative for procedure is BMW's TIS here
http://tis.spaghetticoder.org/e39/
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  #7  
Old 05-06-2012, 04:20 PM
Darren1231 Darren1231 is offline
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Here is what the leather cover looks like in my 525i

Notice the location of the velcro.
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  #8  
Old 05-06-2012, 05:00 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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There is a star adjustment wheel, accessed via one of the bolt holes, when the hole is positioned at the bottom of the rotation. I was unable to engage the star wheel, so I merely adjusted the cables. Unless you make a lot of bootleg turns, it's unlikely that the shoes are worn enough to require adjustment.

Holding the release button down, pull up on brake handle five times, rather forcefully. This centers the shoes.

Loosen the adjusting nuts.

Pull up on handle two clicks. Adjust nuts until you just barely get a braking action. You can adjust each in turn, checking that wheel.

Release handle. Wheels should move freely, w/o braking action.

Turn on ignition, and verify the hand brake warning light comes on at just one click, but there is no braking action.

Tighten the lock nuts, whilst holding the adjusting nuts with a box wrench. I used a deep socket to turn both the adjusting and lock nuts. Makes it easier.
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Last edited by edjack; 05-06-2012 at 05:02 PM.
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  #9  
Old 05-06-2012, 05:08 PM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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Topaz, here's the info on which way to turn the star adjusters thru the wheel bolt hole.

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  #10  
Old 08-20-2014, 02:07 PM
professorman professorman is offline
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Does the E39 have automatic adjustment where you back up and pull up the hand brake? I know a few cars allows this method.
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  #11  
Old 08-20-2014, 05:04 PM
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johnstern johnstern is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by professorman View Post
Does the E39 have automatic adjustment where you back up and pull up the hand brake? I know a few cars allows this method.
No.
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  #12  
Old 08-20-2014, 05:30 PM
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johnstern johnstern is offline
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Topaz-As much as I have tried, I cannot seem to reach and turn the star wheel through a wheel bolt hole with a screwdrive like you are supposed to. I never had that problem with the older BMWs I've owned but it seems like the star adjusters and the wheel bolt holes don't line up.

You can adjust the handbrake using the nuts on the lever in the cabin like edjack says. The problem with doing that is that the adjustment range is small.

I adjust with the star adjuster differently and it's usually after replacing the ebrake shoes. Naturally you have to have the rear of the car in the air (you have to have the rear wheels off the ground when adjusting with the nuts of the brake lever so you can make the adjustment equal on each wheel) and the calipers off. I adjust the shoes with the star until I can just get the rotors on and am able to turn the rotors. I don't care if they rub a bit. After I do both sides, I put everything back together and do the final adjustment at the hand brake lever.

In this way I don't have to drive myself nuts trying to move the star adjuster through a wheel bolt hole.

Last edited by johnstern; 08-20-2014 at 05:33 PM.
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  #13  
Old 08-20-2014, 05:39 PM
dnbigdog dnbigdog is offline
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Just did this job and have some tips:

google BMW e39 parking brake adjustment and you'll have lots of info and pix, all of it pretty good

Be sure to loosen the cables BEFORE you adjust the star wheels in the drums to make sure they are adjusted properly

Adjusting the star wheels is sometimes impossible if they haven't been moved in a long time, just take the drum off, soak 'em in Kroil or PB Blaster and then use pliers to loosen them up so they move. Better yet, take them off, clean thoroughly and lube with some grease and re assemble.

Once you get them properly adjusted, then tighten the cables

the parking brake isn't intended to hold the car on a steep hill, it works in conjunction with the tranny to make sure the car doesn't roll and it's ABSOLUTELY not designed to stop the car while in motion. Drifting and J turns will wear it out in short order.
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  #14  
Old 08-21-2014, 01:53 AM
HTK12 HTK12 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dnbigdog View Post
Just did this job and have some tips:


the parking brake isn't intended to hold the car on a steep hill, it works in conjunction with the tranny to make sure the car doesn't roll and it's ABSOLUTELY not designed to stop the car while in motion. Drifting and J turns will wear it out in short order.
I have to disagree on this one. It it meant to hold the car on a steep hill. However, it requires the brake drum and shoes to be in good shape. I've parked plenty of cars in steep hills and hand brake will hold it there, if it's in a good shape.
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  #15  
Old 08-21-2014, 02:55 AM
dnbigdog dnbigdog is offline
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Maybe I wasn't clear, the parking brake is the primary method of holding the car still while parked but the car should still be left in park if an automatic (or 1st or reverse if it's a manual) as a backup. In fact the best way to protect the tranny is to set the parking brake first so it holds the majority of the load and then place the tranny in either park or a high ratio gear. this prevents the load from being transferred to the parking pawl of the auto or the gear teeth of the manual. After driving manuals for many years, I prefer using reverse since in most cars it's not synchronized and there is no risk of damaging the synchronizer drum/gear/dog teeth. Probably not a big concern for most folks but I drive my cars to extremely high mileages (the e34 535i 5 speed went 418k and is probably still on the road with it's new owner) and take every opportunity to extend parts life.
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  #16  
Old 08-21-2014, 06:55 AM
rdl rdl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HTK12 View Post
I have to disagree on this one. It it meant to hold the car on a steep hill. However, it requires the brake drum and shoes to be in good shape. I've parked plenty of cars in steep hills and hand brake will hold it there, if it's in a good shape.
My experience agrees with HTK12.

When I bought my 530i 4 years ago the hand brake was so weak I could drive off with it engaged and not notice except for the warning light in the instrument cluster. I tried the TIS adjustment and break-in procedure with only marginal improvement. After reading the posts describing it as ineffective I accepted the status quo. Then earlier this year I did a hand brake overhaul when I installed new rear rotors. Immediately after installation and adjustment, the hand brake wasn't noticeably better. But what a transformation after performing the break in procedure! The hand brake is now as effective as any car I can recall.

TIS hand lever adjustment procedure:
adjust parking brake shoes with hand brake released, no tension in the Bowden cables
snug up the cable nuts at the lever uniformly each side
lift the hand lever with 400 N (~100 lb) force 5 times with the button pushed
lift the hand lever to the 2nd notch and ensure the nuts on each cable are loose enough that each rear wheel turns freely
tighten the nuts on each side until braking action can be felt at the corresponding rear wheel EDIT i.e. braking action is just beginning

TIS break-in procedure:
at 40 km/hr (25 mph) apply the hand brake until braking effect can just be felt
pull up one more notch/click on the lever
drive on ~ 400 meters (400 yards) which will be 35 to 40 seconds
repeat if necessary after allowing time for the brakes to cool down
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Last edited by rdl; 08-21-2014 at 07:02 AM.
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  #17  
Old 08-21-2014, 08:34 AM
JKRIT JKRIT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dnbigdog View Post
Maybe I wasn't clear, the parking brake is the primary method of holding the car still while parked but the car should still be left in park if an automatic (or 1st or reverse if it's a manual) as a backup. In fact the best way to protect the tranny is to set the parking brake first so it holds the majority of the load and then place the tranny in either park or a high ratio gear. this prevents the load from being transferred to the parking pawl of the auto or the gear teeth of the manual. After driving manuals for many years, I prefer using reverse since in most cars it's not synchronized and there is no risk of damaging the synchronizer drum/gear/dog teeth. Probably not a big concern for most folks but I drive my cars to extremely high mileages (the e34 535i 5 speed went 418k and is probably still on the road with it's new owner) and take every opportunity to extend parts life.
1) Leaving the shifter of a manual trans in reverse for long periods can weaken/damage the centering spring.
2) BMWs have had synchro in reverse for many years now.
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  #18  
Old 08-21-2014, 10:03 AM
pshovest pshovest is offline
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Maybe this helps, maybe it adds more confusion.
The hand brake lever pulls on a cable that in effect rotates a cam to spread the brake shoes and make them contact the drum.

The purpose of the cable adjustment is to make certain 1) the cam is on it's base circle when brake is off and 2) cable is tight enough so when brake is applied brake shoes are spread with zero wasted cable travel. If cable is too tight or too loose, you won't get enough cam action and brake won't be effective. If you tighten the cables to improve parking brake performance, you screw up this cam setting. You must use the adjuster in JimLev's photo.

I don't touch the cable adjustment, unless it's obvious someone fooled with it. It's obvious if adjustments aren't approximately equal, as shown in Topaz's photo. This will only go out of adjustment if/when the cable stretches.
For ~20 years now, I don't touch the cable adjustment when adjusting parking brake. I pull parking brake lever to the 4th or 5th click, then tighten the adjuster wheel in the rotor as tight as possible. I release and re-apply a few more times, to center the shoes and check on 4th or 5th click again. Both sides can be adjusted in 15 minutes.

Is the adjustment good enough? If you can tighten lug nuts with car on jackstands, parking brake applied, without any wheel rotation, your parking brake will work well. If one wheel slips, I give that adjuster another bump, with parking brake off. My brakes hold on very well on steep hills.
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Old 08-21-2014, 10:55 AM
professorman professorman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pshovest View Post
Maybe this helps, maybe it adds more confusion.
The hand brake lever pulls on a cable that in effect rotates a cam to spread the brake shoes and make them contact the drum.

The purpose of the cable adjustment is to make certain 1) the cam is on it's base circle when brake is off and 2) cable is tight enough so when brake is applied brake shoes are spread with zero wasted cable travel. If cable is too tight or too loose, you won't get enough cam action and brake won't be effective. If you tighten the cables to improve parking brake performance, you screw up this cam setting. You must use the adjuster in JimLev's photo.

I don't touch the cable adjustment, unless it's obvious someone fooled with it
This confuses me a little, but why would the cable tightening not work for someone who wants just a little tightening? My logic would tell me that the cable gives a small adjustment range, and the drum adjustment gives a bigger adjustment range.

I am thinking, if I want small adjustment, use the cable. Later on, if it needs more adjustment again, you now go to the drum. You then back off the cable, then go adjust it at the drum, leaving you enough room to do further fine tuning with the cable.
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Last edited by professorman; 08-21-2014 at 10:56 AM.
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  #20  
Old 08-21-2014, 11:21 AM
HTK12 HTK12 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by professorman View Post
This confuses me a little, but why would the cable tightening not work for someone who wants just a little tightening? My logic would tell me that the cable gives a small adjustment range, and the drum adjustment gives a bigger adjustment range.

I am thinking, if I want small adjustment, use the cable. Later on, if it needs more adjustment again, you now go to the drum. You then back off the cable, then go adjust it at the drum, leaving you enough room to do further fine tuning with the cable.
No always adjust from the drum. Adjusting from the cable will stress the cables (believe me you don't want to change them, they are PITA). Second is that adjusting from the cables will decrease the pad contact area, which will decrease the hand brake power.
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  #21  
Old 08-21-2014, 05:24 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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I'm going to cross link this to the threads listed under /parking brake f3 in the bestlinks ...
- How to adjust or replace the parking brake drum shoes (1) (2) (3)

See also:
- What E39 street use brake pads (1) and rotors (1) and suppliers (1) (2) are most often recommended & how to do a complete four wheel brake job DIY (1) (2) (3) including the parking brake drum shoes (1) (2) (3) & exactly what lube/paste to use and not use (1) & where to lube (1) and not to lube (1) & what six brake hoses to check for wear (1) & how to do a preventive brake system & caliper rebuild (1) (2) & what tools are needed for a brake job (1) (2) and supplies for doing brakes (1) & what brake specifications you must know (1) including minimum specs for the brake shoes (1) (2) taking care to measure torque accurately (1) & how to crack friction material edge codes (1) & how far you can go once the brake wear sensor trips (1) (2) (3) (4) & how long do rotors last (1) & what's the real difference between drilled, slotted, and solid rotors (1) & what's the difference between various brands of solid rotors (1) & how to clear the check brake lining warning the right way (1) (2) and how to hardwire the sensor (1) (2) & how to diagnose brake-related vibration (1) (2) (3) & the truth about rotor "warp" (1) & how to rebuild the calipers (1) & how to measure runout (1) & should you just turn the rotors (1) & how to remove stuck rusted-on brake rotors (1) & how to remove a stuck 6mm brake rotor set screw (1) & how to replace the anti-rattle spring (1) (2) & what about unsightly rust (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) & how to bed (1) (2) & bleed or flush (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) your brakes & what brake & clutch hydraulic fluid to use (1) and how much it will cost if you do not DIY (1) (2) (3)
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See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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