Lowering and Adjusting the Handbrake in a Mercedes Sprinter/VW LT35
The seat couldn’t rotate because the handbrake was in the way.
After fitting swivelling Saab seats to the van, the driver’s seat couldn’t swivel, because the handbrake needed to go lower at its lowest point of travel. This excellent write up (page 5) offers two possible solutions. I tried option B but it didn’t seem to work for me, so I did option A and this worked great.
The kit I used modifies the minimum and maximum angle of rotation that the handbrake sits at. Fitting the bracket was fairly self explanatory so I won’t repeat the instructions, but after fitting the bracket the handbrake cable was quite loose, and didn’t properly apply the brake when at the top of the travel. I needed to adjust the handbrake shoes and the handbrake cable. I used the Haynes manual for the Mercedes Sprinter to figure out what to do, but for those without this, here’s how I did it:
Adjusting the handbrake shoes
Rotate the wheel so the empty bolt hole lines up with the position indicated, this should be close to where the star adjuster is located.
The handbrake uses its own drum brakes situated inside the rear wheel hubs. To adjust them:
- With the van on level ground, remove one wheel bolt from each rear wheel.
- Take off the handbrake, and take the van out of gear. Chock the front wheels.
- Jack up the rear of the van and support it securely on each side with axle stands.
- Apply and release the handbrake several times, then release it.
- Looking through the empty wheel bolt hole, rotate the wheel until the star adjuster becomes accessible (see illustration).
- Rotate the adjuster with a long screwdriver until the wheel cannot be turned.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 and on the other rear wheel.
- Back off the star adjuster on one wheel until the wheel turns with no dragging. Count how many strokes are required.
- Back off the second wheel by exactly the same amount.
- Apply the handbrake one click at a time, checking that both rear wheels start to drag at the same time.
Adjusting the compensator
- Slacken all four mounting bolts.
- Place a 6mm allen key between the lever arm and the compensator assembly, and pull the whole assembly towards the back of the van until the allen key is tight in the gap between the handbrake lever and the compensator assembly.
- Tighten the mounting bolts, then remove the allen key.
- Inside the van, apply the handbrake one click.
- Undo the adjuster bolt so it’s loose, then place an allen key in the socket, and use this to rotate the assembly in the middle clockwise, until the wheels are just about able to be turned by hand.
- Tighten the adjuster bolt, and release the handbrake.
- Make sure the rear wheels rotate freely.
- Lower the vehicle to the ground and re-fit the two wheel bolts at the correct torque.
I found there was a lot of adjustment to be made with the compensator, probably because the handbrake starts so much lower, and doesn’t go as high, as it did before fitting the lowering bracket.
The handbrake should now ‘engage’ much lower in the lever’s travel; I got full braking back despite fitting the lowering kit. If after this you still don’t have satisfactory braking able to hold the van on a hill, it’s time to inspect your brake shoes, or the handbrake cable may have stretched with use.
Let me know any questions or comments below.
Edit: Here are some photos of the lowering bracket after fitting: