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Emergency Brake Handle OR Getting the Button Back

If you drive an aircooled VW somewhere along the way you will probably have the experience of pulling up on your emergency brake handle and “bing” out comes the button. And fixing it is not as easy as just poking it back in.

This surprising experience happens when the handle comes up so far that the ratchet inside runs out of teeth to catch it. The handle comes up too far because the rear brakes that the emergency brake operates are too far out of adjustment. But before you adjust the rear brakes lets get the button back in place. To make this job a little easier you might want to loosen the brake cables a little. I usually just pull the boot off and replace it when I am done.
Now you should be able to lift the handle all the way up. If the button and rod came all the way out it goes back with the half round hook shape down. Be sure the spring is on the rod.
The pawl that engages in the ratchet section usually flips upside down with the round end down.
With the handle all the way up push the button in about ¼”. Then with a small screwdriver or whatever push the round end of the pawl back up into the hook in the end of the rod. (I practically have to stand on my head to do this) You may have to move the button in and out a little to find the right spot.
When it is in the hook you can push the button in and the ratchet end of the pawl will be sticking out the bottom of the handle and the handle will be working again if you let off the button. Just don't pull it up again yet.
Now lift the back of the car and adjust the rear brakes. (Remember to tighten the adjusters one at a time all the way then back off until the wheel just turns by hand.) Now go back inside and pull the handle up two clicks (3 clicks on ’73 and newer). Then tighten the cables evenly until the wheels again turn with little hand pressure. On the later bugs try to keep the compensating lever horizontal. (If one cable seems to be much longer than the other it may be out of the grove in the bottom of the handle or beginning to break)
Both wheels should lock up at 4 or 5 clicks. In the future when you notice that it is taking more than 5 clicks you will know that it is likely time to adjust the rear brakes again. Just another one of those little things you can do yourself. See this on Vol.4 of the Bug Me Video Series.

Rick Higgins and Crew
Bug Me Video, Inc

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