[s-cars] how difficult to replace the e-brake cable ?

Fred Munro munrof at sympatico.ca
Thu Nov 13 20:01:56 EST 2003

Hi Tom;

You can do the cables with the driveshaft in place but it is a lot easier
with it out.

I've attached a "how-to" I wrote several years ago on how to replace the
left cable.


Fred Munro
'94 S4

		UrS4 Left E-brake Cable R&R

    Just finished up this happy little job yesterday and am paying the usual
price for hours of heavy under-the-car work - a restless night followed by a
low grade headache and numerous aches and pains today :o) As therapy, I
thought I'd put together a how-to while the excruciating details are fresh
in my mind.
    This typically simple job is complicated by the fact that on the UrS4,
the forward end of the left cable is cunningly concealed under the
driveshaft and the exhaust system. On rustbelt cars ( and mine was a prime
example), the end of the cable sheath and the spring clip that holds it into
the bracket is likely to be a mass of rust. This, and the extremely
restricted and torturous access, means that something besides the cable has
to come off. In this case it is the exhaust system. It would also help to
remove the rear driveshaft coupling and move the shaft to one side, but I
found this unnecessary. Besides, I couldn't break the CV joint free of the
diff flange, so I settled on removing the front shield and packing in some
fresh CV grease.
    The right e-brake cable has slightly better access and can probably be
changed without removing the exhaust.
    I did this job with the rear of the car up on standard size ramps -
there was just enough access to get it done with only moderate discomfort.

UrS4 Left E-brake Cable R&R

1. Remove exhaust system from the main silencer back as follows:  Remove the
bolts from the two compression clamps on the inlet pipes to the main
(front-most) silencer. Pry the clamps apart at the bolt flanges. Soak the
clamps and pipes in your favourite penetrating oil and drive the clamps back
towards the muffler until they clear the forward exhaust pipes. Note that
you cannot drive them forward - protrusions on the front pipes locate the
clamps and keep them from moving forward. With the clamps moved back, the
exhaust system is hanging by the rubber mounts. Support the system
appropriately (depending how far the car is in the air) and remove the
rubber mounts on the main silencer and then at the rear resonator. At this
point you discover the system weighs about 150 lbs., so don't drop it on
anything you deem valuable. Wear your hernia truss if required!

2. Remove the driveshaft cover plate (4 bolts) located at the rear of the
driveshaft shield. This gives a bit better access to the forward mount of
the cable.

3. There is now enough access to the forward end of the cable to remove even
a rusted clip, using appropriate libations and voluble incantations. Getting
the new clip on is another matter, but I'll get to that.

4. Remove the cable from the caliper. Reef up on the e-brake lever to pull
the stuck cable ( we are replacing it for a reason, I assume) through the
sheath and create some slack at the forward end. Remember to put the e-brake
lever back down, or you will spend more time on incantations.

5. Peel back the heat shield that's wrapped around the cable just aft of the
forward end. Remove the two 10mm nuts securing the cable clip. Try not to
breathe too much of the fibre dusting down from the rotted heat shield - it
looks suspiciously like asbestos, but I neglected to get a sample for
microscopic analysis.

6. Remove the rubber cable mounting block near the aft end of the cable from
the metal clip and pull the cable free of the trap arm and the curved shield
that guides it around a 90 degree bend. Pull the cable out of the forward
bracket and tease the front connector off the e-brake yoke. Slide the cable
back through the grommet in the diff lock shield and throw the blasted thing
in the garbage can with a shout of victory.

7. Installing the new cable is the reverse of removal with a couple of
caveats. The new cable comes with a new grommet, but the old one is likely
to remain in the diff lock shield. Your choice. Installing the new spring
clip at the forward bracket takes a bit of dexterity. Moving the driveshaft
would help here if you have short and/or clumsy fingers. This spring likes
to take a flying leap for the safety of the driveshaft shield, so take a
Phillips screwdriver for retrieval purposes. The trick to getting this
spring clip on is to push up on the cable to square the shoulder of the
sheath end with the bracket. The normal lie of the cable is at a very slight
angle to the bracket which binds the clip. Only took me 15 minutes and
numerous sproings and much rattling of the driveshaft shield to figure this
out ( the incantations were getting rather frequent around the end of this
15 minute period).

8. While the exhaust is off, you may want to take some time for preventative
maintenance. Take special note of the heat shield which covers about 2" of
the front edge of the gas tank. This is probably sitting against the tank
seam and has set up an nice galvanic couple, eating the snot out of a chunk
of the heat shield and rusting the gas tank seam. I cut the shield off just
ahead of the seam, cleaned off a half pound of sand accumulated on top of
the seam, and wire brushed and painted the seam to stave off premature gas
tank replacement. Again, your choice.

9. Replacement of the exhaust is reverse of removal. It hasn't gotten any
lighter, but I bet your patience has worn thinner. The compression clamps
can be expanded and reused, but new ones are only CDN$30 and make the job a
lot easier since they fit very loosely and slide on the pipes easily. The
original clamps have a high grade stainless compression sleeve, the new
clamps use plated steel sleeves. Stainless bolts are a good idea here. Slide
the clamps up to the nubbins on the forward pipes. The exhaust system must
be pre-tensioned cold so there is no tension on the hangers when it is hot.
This is done at the compression clamps. Slide the system forward until the
rear hangers ( on the rear resonator) are deflected 3/8" forward. Clamp down
the compression clamps. Done!

10. Re-install the driveshaft rear cover plate and enjoy a functioning
e-brake system!

Fred Munro

-----Original Message-----
From: s-car-list-admin at audifans.com
[mailto:s-car-list-admin at audifans.com]On Behalf Of
thomas.pollock at amd.com
Sent: November 13, 2003 2:02 PM
To: s-car-list at audifans.com
Subject: [s-cars] how difficult to replace the e-brake cable ?

Hello all you S-car guru's out there !

quick coupla questions...  How difficult is it to replace the e-brake cables
on our cars ?  I've gone back through some old mail that referenced this
repair and I think folks are saying the prop shaft needs to come out. Is
this true ?

Also, how in the heck do you get to the stud behind the turbo on the down
pipe ? You know the one... 8-)  I remember reading someone talking about
fabricating a shortie wrench by grinding down but I gotta think there's
either an easier way or better tool ?

thanks in advance,

94 100csq (her car)
94 s4 stage 1+ (would like to sell if I can get the wife back in her 100)
94 s4 rs2 conversion (my car)
sable wagon (winter beater)
toyota tacoma (passifier for 18 year old so he stays away from either s-car)

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