The MX5 Handbrake

You probably dont need a new cable, just yet.

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The MX5/Miata Handbrake is an interesting thing.

Rather than a single cable, the cable comes in 3 expensive parts. A single cable from the handbrake handle itself, which then splits into two at the back to feed each caliper. New, the whole thing will likely set you back £100 in cables alone, plus something silly in labour to fit them.

Cables stretch over time, the brake pads wear out and eventually you find yourself standing the handbrake up almost vertical to stop the vehicle from rolling when parked. Ermy has been a little off on the handbrake front for a while, so it was time to tighten it up ahead of her next MOT.

There are two places you can adjust the Miata Mk2 handbrake from. Up front at the handle end itself or at each caliper.

To access the front adjuster, a single screw removes the plastic cover Cover

This reveals a single bolt/screwdriver unit which you can use to tighten the cable. Clockwise tightens it, anticlockwise to loosen. This is typically the last resort, when the cable is at its limit or is the way that your local cheap garage will get you through the MOT if there is too much handbrake travel.


When this fails to have an effect you need to dip a little further down the handbrake and look at the rear calipers.

As above, each caliper has its own cable and adjustment. The main element which affects the handbrake travel is a a small allen key driven grub screw, hidden behind a 14mm bolt. Before you start, take the handbrake cover off, undo the handle as above, and slacken off the grub screw completely. This resets the cable to zero and allows you to get the most out of the cabled adjustment.


Remove the wheels and locate the above bolt. It serves no purpose, other than to hide a small 4mm grub screw. This grub screw adjusts the starting location of the brake pads, moving them closer to the brake disk. The plus side of this is that the closer the pad is at the start, the less travel is needed on the handbrake to make it engage.

In order to adjust this, slip the allen key in and turn the screw clockwise (Remembering that the screw is reversed) whilst trying to rotate the brake disk with your hand. When the brake disk stops turning, the pads are as close as they can be. Slacken this grub screw off a 1/4 turn.


The disk should now turn again, if it does not, slacken off the screw a little more until it does.

When I did this, I found that handbrake screw up front needed only a minor adjustment until the handbrake was so sharp it came on after 3 clicks of the ratchet.

The reason this is needed is that over time the brake pads wear out and the handbrake has to move the pads further and further until they engage. You therefor have to move the handle further. This small adjustment takes up that slack and saves you having to replace the cables.

I also bled the brakes, and for the first few minutes the fluid coming out looked like champagne it had so many bubbles in. But, the long and short of this was a very firm peddle press and a much reduced handbrake travel!

Lets hope this gets her through her MOT!


Welcome to Twits with Spanner. A blog following two chaps as they attempt to build an Exocet kit car with bits from a donor MX5, spanners and lots of hope. Read more about us