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SilverSport 06-09-2012 03:20 PM

How To Adjust Parking Brake

2012 Unlimited Sport S

Tools & Supplies

Dead blow hammer
Pair of jackstands
Floor jack
1/2" or 3/8" drive breaker bar
1/2" or 3/8" drive ratchet
1/2" or 3/8" drive extensions
1/2" or 3/8" drive 18mm socket
1/2" drive 13mm 12 point socket
Torque wrench
6mm allen wrench
Brake spoon
Small flat blade screwdriver
18mm combination wrench
Bungee cord or zip ties
Brake cleaner


A. The JK Wranglers feature a parking brake setup consisting of an apply/release lever next to the driver's seat, a pair of cables, actuator links and cams, and parking brake shoe assemblies.

B. Owners seem to think the parking brake system works great or it's "craptastic, garbage, or junk". LOL The system design is fairly simple, but does require periodic inspection/maintenance, especially if your Jeep is subject to frequent drives thru mud and/or deep water.

C. Contrary to popular belief, the parking brakes are not self-adjusting. However, once you understand how it works, adjustment is relatively simple and will ensure a properly functioning parking brake.

D. A properly adjusted parking brake system (4 - 8 clicks of the lever) should easily hold a Jeep on an incline.

E. The rear axles do not need to be removed to adjust/clean the parking brakes. Axle removal is only necessary when replacing the parking brake shoes or cam.

F. The parking brake system also serves as an emergency brake in the event of a failure in the hydraulic brake system. Push in and hold the release button on the top of the lever and then pull the lever up slowly to help stop.

Components & Operation

A. A pair of brake cables are attached to the parking brake lever mechanism alongside the driver's seat. They exit through the tub and are routed to the rear of the Jeep where they split. One cable to each wheel.

B. The cables are anchored to brackets on the axle tubes and end with a spring loaded hook. The hook is attached to the actuator link which passes through a dust boot and connects to the actuator cam inside.

C. Each of the rear brake rotors includes a "hat" that surrounds the parking brake shoes.

D. When the parking brake lever is applied (pulled upward), the cables in turn pull on the actuator links. The links force the cams to push the shoes against the inside of the hat and prevent the rotor/wheel from turning.
The shoes are mounted horizontally to the backing plate.

E. On the opposite end is the locating spring and parking brake adjuster, commonly referred to as the "star wheel". The spring keeps the shoes together and also prevents the star wheel from turning due to vibrations.
The back plate features a rubber knockout plug that allows access for adjustments.

F. In the center of the parking brake shoes is the ABS wheel speed sensor and tone ring.

Adjustment Procedures

NOTE: Adjustment is done with the rotor installed. For purposes of this write-up, I took the rotor off so you can better see what needs to be adjusted.

1) Examine the brake cables for visible damage from where they come through the tub back to where they attach to the actuating links. Make sure they are anchored to the axle tube and the spring on the end of each cable is ok.

2) Loosen the wheel nuts, raise the rear of the Jeep, and place a jackstand under the axle tube on each side.

3) Remove the two 18mm bolts holding the brake caliper and move it aside. Hang it from the frame using a bungee cord or zip ties.
CAUTION: Do not let the caliper hang by the hose.
Note: you may wish to remove the sway bar end link to allow more room for removing the caliper bolts.

4) Remove the rotor/hat. If it is rusted in place, spray PB Blaster or a similar penetrating oil on the rotor where the wheel studs pass through.
Using a dead blow hammer, rap the hat sharply until he rotor becomes free.

5) Once the rotor is off, inspect the parking brake shoe assembly for wear, extreme rust, or mud build-up. Replace the shoes if they are worn to less than 1/32". Clean out any mud or rust with a wirebrush/screwdriver and compressed air or water from a garden hose. Once the assembly is clean, allow it to dry.

6) Check the inside of the rotor hat for cracks or scoring. Light scoring may be removed on a brake lathe. Deep scoring or cracks will require the rotor to be replaced. The minimum dimensions are cast into the inside of the rotor.

7) Install the rotor back on the end of the axle.

8) Remove the rubber plug from the access hole on the inside of the backing plate (next to the ABS wheel speed sensor harness).

9) Using a flashlight, insert a small flat blade screwdriver in between the spring and the side of the adjuster.

10) Passenger side: with a brake spoon or flat blade screwdriver, turn the star wheel COUNTER CLOCKWISE until the shoes are against the rotor hat.
NOTE: The star wheel should turn easily and then suddenly become difficult to move. Stop!

11) Turn the star wheel CLOCKWISE while counting the "points" or "notches". Once you have turned the star wheel 4 - 5 points or notches, then stop.

12) Driver's side: turn the star wheel CLOCKWISE until the shoes are against the rotor hat. Turn the star wheel COUNTER CLOCKWISE 4 - 5 points or notches, then stop.

13) Apply the parking brake lever and make sure it stops within 4 - 8 clicks. Release brake lever.

14) Install the rubber access plug, brake calipers, and sway bar links (if removed). Torque caliper bolts to 50 ft lbs and sway bar link hardware to 37 ft lbs.

15) Install wheels and torque to 95 ft lbs.

Enjoy your working parking brake! :dance:

71K5 06-09-2012 03:35 PM



Great work!

Cannot wait for the complete procedure.

I am going to use this. My parking break does not hold very well until the last clik or so.

chim-chim7 06-09-2012 03:51 PM

Thanks for the write up. I have been working on these systems for years and people would be amazed at how well they work when adjusted properly. 8 clicks should hold any Jeep on a steep incline. Problems I used to see most was people driving a short distance with the handle partially engaged. Once that happens the shoes wear or glaze over and then a adjustment is usually required.

SilverSport 06-09-2012 03:56 PM

The writeup isn't finished yet. Be patient. :thumb:

kjeeper10 06-09-2012 04:17 PM

4351 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by SilverSport
The writeup isn't finished yet. Be patient. :thumb:


SilverSport 06-09-2012 07:00 PM


Originally Posted by kjeeper10 (Post 2455421)

You are so impatient! :rofl:


kjeeper10 06-09-2012 07:21 PM

4351 Attachment(s)
Why won't my Hershey's pie unfreeze ? :banghead:

I'm getting mad !!!!

SilverSport 06-09-2012 07:24 PM


Originally Posted by kjeeper10 (Post 2455857)
Why won't my Hershey's pie unfreeze ? :banghead:

I'm getting mad !!!!

I strongly disagree that the pie is frozen. ROFL

kjeeper10 06-09-2012 07:31 PM

4351 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by SilverSport

I strongly disagree that the pie is frozen. ROFL

Little hard in the middle :drool:

kristof2 06-09-2012 08:18 PM

I think I showed up a little late, I dont get it...

Baby Huey 06-09-2012 09:11 PM

Thank's a bunch !!! I need to adjust my hand brake too.....
Thank's for taking the time to post the pics and the "How To".... "BH"

Jeff Loughlin 10-19-2012 04:03 PM

Thanks for this fantastic writeup! I've tried to follow other writeups where the writer didn't remove the rotor for the pictures, and I couldn't get a good visual of what that star wheel looked like, so I was never sure exactly what I was looking for in that little hole.

One question, when you say counter-clockwise on the passenger side and clockwise on the driver's side...the star wheel is horizontally mounted, so I assume your frame of reference for clockwise/counter-clockwise is from the viewpoint of looking down on it from above? Or looking up from below (which would mean the opposite direction)?

Now maybe I can finally fix my parking break, which currently has no effect whatsoever when I pull it all the way to the last click...:dance:

SilverSport 10-19-2012 04:05 PM

Frame of reference is indeed looking down from above.

ESP 10-19-2012 04:45 PM

Wait a sec...just scrolled through the pics, is a Hersey's pie required here to adjust the brake?

fljeepleo 10-19-2012 04:55 PM

Jeep manual calls for pie. They don't specify what kind of pie.

ESP 10-19-2012 05:00 PM

I know beer is required for installing a lift but this is the first I've heard of chocolate for modding.

SilverSport 10-19-2012 06:40 PM

Don't fight it, eat it.

Another donation to the imaginary mod fund.

ray-ray 10-19-2012 08:33 PM


SilverSport 10-19-2012 09:17 PM


MarkinOhio 11-12-2012 07:52 PM

Awesome write-up
Thanks for this. Great job, one question though.

My 2007 has the star wheels at the top, not on the bottom like in your pics. I am currently swapping out my pads, and wonder if I should switch the new star wheels to the same position as yours?

SilverSport 11-12-2012 08:18 PM

Well you want the "star" to line up with the adjustment hole in the backing plate.

MarkinOhio 11-12-2012 08:25 PM

Right, thanks. It kind of lines up, as far as that goes. These star adjusters pretty much blow, IMHO. I will put the new ones on the same as yours. I'm not sure if they will adjust any easier, though.

Just to keep it simple when I adjust them from here on out. :wavey:

Just wonder why they put them in such a bad spot, you know?

SilverSport 11-12-2012 08:48 PM

I guess the logic is it's easier to remove a plug and adjust them versus taking the caliper and rotor off. LOL

WXman 11-12-2012 09:09 PM

When you say counterclockwise and clockwise, are you talking looking from the rear of the Jeep toward the front? Or from the front looking rearward? Because depending on which side of the rear tires you crawl around to do this job, it could be either way.

SilverSport 11-12-2012 10:24 PM

From the rear looking toward the front. The last pic shows a view of the passenger side from the rear looking forward.

Blastek 11-12-2012 11:07 PM

awesome writeup. I look forward to using it!

Supercop260 12-01-2012 01:45 PM

Just a suggestion: Could someone add a how-to on repairing a parking brake assembly that's broken? For example, a parking brake handle that has no tension and goes vertical...

Dew 12-01-2012 03:36 PM


Originally Posted by Supercop260 (Post 3055089)
Just a suggestion: Could someone add a how-to on repairing a parking brake assembly that's broken? For example, a parking brake handle that has no tension and goes vertical...

sounds like a broken cable

kjeeper10 04-22-2013 09:45 AM

4351 Attachment(s)
This was fairly simple, considering the original owner left the plugs out. Everything still worked and I was able to loosen the PB. Still working on getting the driver side rotor off. The passenger side pads looked good. I am going to replace the rotors once able to remove the other side. Clean up the internals and I should have no issues adjusting the brake to hold.

1Topp 07-07-2013 02:17 PM


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