Freezing handbrake


A very common problem is finding the handbrake frozen on in the morning. This can be caused by slush collecting on the handbrake mechanism on the back wheels then freezing overnight, or it may be caused a split in the small rubber boot at the end of the handbrake cable which lets water collect in the ‘U-bend’ between the caliper and the brake mechanism (Thanks to Bert Reid for working that one out).

If you¹re expecting a cold night after a wet or slushy day, leave the handbrake off. Put the car into gear, turn the wheels into the kerb and put a brick under the tyre instead If your handbrake does freeze up, don¹t bother crawling under the car with a kettle of hot water, as it¹s hard to pour water upwards (believe it or not his has been attemptedŠ). A hair dryer on an extension lead is more likely to succeed, but don¹t leave the hair dryer where it can be run over ­ again, this has been done!

Tools required

  • Hair dryer


  • Here is the end of the hand brake cable (on the passenger side) with the rubber boot in the red box.

  • This shows the (drivers side) rubber boot with a gap where water can seep or splash in during damp conditions.

This technical guide was originally held at It was copied to this site in 2021 to ensure its availability and to reformat it into a more modern layout. The original guide was written by

Further notes

When I took ownership of my Barchetta I was told that the handbrake didn’t release which was true. A common cause is the water ingress mentioned above eventually rusting the cable and it seizing solid in the sleeve. The only answer then is to change the handbrake cables.

I didn’t record the steps I took to do mine but two key points to note are:

  • When you pull out the old cable, attach a strong pull cord to it that you can use to pull the new cables through.
  • The inner cable on new cables seems to be too long on many aftermarket ones. You may need to make up some spacers that fit under the handbrake lever to ensure the handbrake engages before the lever is pointing at the roof.

There are some useful notes at

and also a picture of the spacers used on another car here

Chris Reynolds 2021

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