Replacing the Handbrake

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Porsche Boxster (986) FAQ

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There are a number of replacement handbrakes available. You may pay a dealer to replace the handbrake, but you can do it yourself with a little work.

Parts and Tools:

  • Replacement handbrake
  • 13MM socket wrench
  • T30 Torx driver
  • T25 Torx driver
  • T20 Torx driver
  • Two pairs of pliers or crescent wrenches
  • A flat screw driver for prying


  1. There are 11 screws that you will need to remove to remove the console and the center module under the dash. For all of these except two (under the ashtray) you will use the T20 Torx screwdriver. The two under the ashtray you will use the T25. The T30 is only used to tighten the screw on the shifter.
  2. First you must remove the console and the center module. Work on  the center module first. Pull forward and out on the colored panels on either side of the module and set them aside.
  3. Pull out the two carpeted panels behind and on either side of the module. There are 4 screws (two on each side) that hold it in place. One in toward the middle front and the other is at the far back. Once these are removed, the module simply pulls out. Set it aside.
  4. Started in the back of the module. Open the storage bin and pull out the rubber bottom. Under it you will see a screw in the center back. Remove it. Pull out the little coin holder thing in the front. Under it you will remove another screw. Then with a flat screwdriver pry up the plastic floor of the compartment from the back where you removed the screw.
  5. You will see the back of the brake mechanism where it attached to the cables. There is another screw here for you to remove.
  6. Then remove the ashtray. You will see two screws. Use the T25 screwdriver to remove these. Once you have taken these out pull out the module that holds the ashtray and houses the window buttons and seat heater buttons, if you have them. You will need to disconnect all of these. There are plugs that just pull out. You will also need to unplug the light for the ashtray. Put this aside. The plug for the left window is white and the right window is black. Under this is another screw for you to remove.
  7. Remove the shifter. Use the flat screw driver to lift the bottom of the boot and then pull on the top of the shifter until it pulls off of the shaft. If you have a shifter other than the base shifter, you will need to use the T30 screwdriver to loosen a screw under the boot in the front of the shaft of the shifter.
  8. In front of the shifter (normally under the center module) you will find the last screw. You need to also remove the plastic panel that is in between the handbrake and the drivers seat. It just pulls out. The console should now be free.
  9. With a little maneuvering to get it around the handbrake, shifter shaft, etc remove it and set it aside.
  10. The new handbrake is more than just the handle. It includes the metal base and mechanism that attaches to the cables that set and release the rear brakes.
  11. Study the handbrake that is in the car.
  12. Remove the plug that attaches to the button that turns the light on the dash on and off when the handbrake is engaged or disengaged. It is right under the handle. Push in on the white plastic piece to release a tab that holds it in.
  13. There are four bolts that secure the handbrake base of the car. Remove these with the socket wrench. Two are regular nuts (driver's side) and two have tall shafts on top of them. The one on the passenger rear also has a clamp that goes over it to hold some cables in place. Remove the clamp first with the socket and then the tall nut.
  14. Once the nuts are removed you can lift the handbrake upward although it is still attached to the cables.
  15. The cables are attached to a sort of circular metal pulley looking part. One cable wraps under right and one wraps over left. Once the handbrake is free these cables will slack. There is a metal collar that goes around the curved side of the pulley to hold these cables in place. Use a flat screwdriver to pry it off to release the cables. The cable can then be removed and the old handbrake can be set aside.
  16. You will notice a threaded shaft that points toward the rear of the car that goes through the pulley. It has a metal collar and two nuts attached to it. This is what is used to adjust the tension (engaged and disengaged) on the cables. It is very important that the tension be adjusted properly. If it is too tight the brakes won't fully disengage when the handle is lowered. If it is too loose, then the brakes will not hold when the handle is pulled up. It is important and I want to make sure that you are paying attention. Study the amount of slack and tension on the old handbrake before removing it so that you are familiar with the way it looks. Also made sure the amount of threaded shaft sticking rearward beyond the last nut on the new handbrake matches the amount that has been sticking out on the old handbrake to estimate the proper amount of tension. When the handbrake is pulled up (engaged) the cables should be tight. When released they should have some slack.
  17. Reattach the cables to the new pulley and clamp the collar on to secure them.
  18. Then adjust the nuts in until there is proper tension (in both positions) on the cables. Then using the pliers or crescent wrenches (one on each nut, tighten them in opposite directions to ensure the pulley position is secure. On the factory unit, they have marked the nuts with what looks like nail polish. They give a reference point to the position of the nuts when they were first put on for future adjustment. You may want to put a magic maker line on the new nuts for the same reason.
  19. There are two blue clamps (threaded) that you will need to remove from the old handbrake and move to the new one. They are needed for the screws that attach the console.
  20. Make sure that the new handbrake does not scrape against the side of the console as it moves up and down. If it does, it can tear the leather on the lower part of the handbrake. File the plastic on the side of the console that surrounds the handbrake, if necessary to prevent this.
  21. Now just follow all of the above procedures in reverse to finish!
  22. Afterward test the dash light for the parking brake, the windows and seat heaters and the ashtray light to be sure that everything is working again.