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How to Install an Emergency Brake Kit

Got a Lugnut4x4 emergency brake kit you’re looking to install on your 4×4 vehicle? Whether you’re swapping to a 14 bolt axle, converting to disc brakes, or simply looking to add an e-brake to your vehicle, this guide is for you.

Ebrake kits

Here’s a general overview of how to install a Lugnut4x4 emergency brake kit:

1. Install the Emergency Brake Caliper

The first thing you want to do is to install the emergency brake (e-brake) caliper. You can install the e-brake caliper on either the front or rear side of the rotor. In most OE applications they were installed on the rear side of the caliper. So the caliper with an embossed “R” on it mounts on the right side on the rear of the caliper. And, of course, the caliper with an embossed “L” on it mounts on the left side of the truck on the rear of the caliper. You can install the calipers on the front side of the rotor if it works better with your e-brake cables. To do this, swap the calipers from side to side. Left caliper on right side, and right caliper on the left side. This keeps the bleeder valve at the top of the caliper, which is important. Installing the e-brake caliper is the same as mounting a conventional caliper. Make sure you torque the mounting bolts, and use high strength thread locker.

2. Install the Parking Cable Mounting Bracket on Each Caliper

The cable mounting bracket bolts to the caliper with one bolt. (This bracket is the lower metal part shown in the photo.) Use high strength lock tight on the bolt. This picture should help you understand how to orient the bracket. Do not install the parking brake lever arm.

Install ebrake2

3. Adjust the Emergency Brakes and Install the Levers

This is an important step. If you don’t do this correctly, you will have a soft brake pedal. Before beginning to adjust the e-brakes:

  • Make sure that the rotor and caliper are fully installed. Otherwise, you will not be able to adjust the e-brakes correctly.
  • You do not need brake fluid in the system. The e-brakes operate mechanically.
  • It is important to loosen the bleeder valve before starting. This to prevent suction inside the caliper, which can retract the piston. If suction pulls the piston back in it is very difficult to get a good adjustment. If you already have bled the caliper you may need to bleed it again.

Here’s the adjustment process:

  1. You will use the brake lever arm as a tool. (The brake lever arm is laser cut very precisely. You will notice that it will only fit on the actuator nut/stud when it is correctly oriented. Left and right arms cannot be swapped.)
  2. Place the arm on the actuator nut/stud and then rotate the arm forward towards the front of the truck as far as you can.
  3. Repeat this process until the brake pad makes contact with the rotor. (If nothing seems to be happening, use a screwdriver and wedge it between the rotor and pad to put slight pressure on the piston.)
  4. Install the brake lever arm so it sits as close as possible to the backstop. Test the lever one more time. It should not move forward more than 3/8″ – 1/2″. Once you are sure you have the arm in the right place, remove the nut, apply lock tight, and re-install the nut.
  5. Install the brake cable and spring. Use the spring included in the kit. It is shorter than the original to accommodate our bracket and lever design. (Our e-brake kit is a universal design that works with the majority of OE e-brake cables. However, we have no way to test fit every e-brake cable ever made. If you run into problems mounting the cable to the e-brake, consider a universal e-brake cable such as the one made by Lokar.)
  6. Repeat these steps for the other side.

4. Adjust the E-Brake Cable

Install spring nut

There’s an e-brake cable adjuster included in the kit. (Note that the adjuster comes from Dorman with the hook installed exactly the opposite of how it will be installed in your truck.)

To adjust the e-brake cable:

  1. Locate the single brake cable that runs from the e-brake handle to the Y-joint where separate cables begin to run to each rear wheel.
  2. Place the two barrels of the tensioner against the cable.
  3. Slide the hook over the cable and through the adjuster. The threaded shaft of the hook should protrude from the adjuster opposite the barrels.
  4. Use the first nut to adjust the cable. Adjust it enough to remove the slack.
  5. Use the second nut to lock the first nut into place.

Why You Should Use the Parking Brake on a Regular Basis

To keep the brakes functioning correctly, it is important that you use the parking brake on a regular basis. Using the e-brake causes the adjuster inside the caliper to function, so the brakes stay in adjustment. If the e-brake is not used for a period of time, it can come so far out of adjustment that the adjuster no longer works correctly. If this happens, you will end up with a soft brake pedal, and you will have to manually adjust the e-brakes to solve the problem.

Got any questions about the installation process? You’re welcome to call us, email us, or visit our shop!