How Do I Remove the Hand Brake Cable on a BMW E39 540I?

Updated March 23, 2017

Replacing the hand brake cable, also known as the parking or emergency brake cable, requires you to first remove the old cable. Removing the hand brake cable on a BMW E39 540I is similar to removing the hand brake cable on other vehicle models. The E39 540I is part of the 5-series, created by BMW in the late 1970s. Manufactured between 1995 and 2003, the E39 was replaced by the BMW E34.

Raise your vehicle and support it on a pair of jack stands. Follow the instructions included with the jack stands for proper placement under your vehicle. Remove the left rear tire and wheel assembly before starting to work.

Disconnect the upper return spring for the parking brake shoes using brake spring pliers. Unlock and disconnect the retaining springs and parking brake shoes by turning the retaining springs 90 degrees.

Locate the spreader locks and disconnect from the backing plates. To do so, gently shake the lower end of the spreader lock to remove the holding pin. Pull the connecting cable out of the spreader lock to detach the lock from its housing. Pull the connecting cable through the backing plate.

Locate the parking brake cable and trailing arm. Disconnect the parking brake cable. Sit inside the vehicle and remove the console cover. Remove the air grille, nuts, mounting bolt and cap. Locate the bolt on the left hand side of the console and remove the air ducts.

Locate and turn the retainer 90 degrees. Remove the rubber cover and adjusting nuts. Take out the parking brake cable.


Refer to the vehicle owner's manual to identify parts for removal when taking out the parking (hand) brake.


Do not work on your vehicle unless the vehicle is completely cooled.

Things You'll Need

  • Jack
  • 2 jack stands
  • Wheel wrench
  • Brake spring pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Crescent wrench
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Based in the Washington metro area, Jessica Jones has been a freelance writer since 2006, specializing in business topics. Her fiction has also been featured in publications such as "The Jamaican Observer Sunday Literary Supplement" and at websites including HackWriters. Jones earned a Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing from Lesley University.