At various stages in the past few years I’ve written about issues with my 2006 Volkswagen Touareg, which was a bit of a “brave buy” that I purchased for a low price as a trade in special from a dealer.
I love my truck, and it is a great workhorse when driving and running well (although I do wish I’d sprung for a V8 model instead – the fuel consumption is horrendous on the V6 anyway, and the extra power would be nice).
However, it has not been without issues.
From leaving me stranded many hundreds of kilometres from home, to throwing all sorts of expensive sensor errors, to being the victim of an incompetent headlight polishing workshop, the Touareg has been in the wars.
I’m “happy” to report another fault has developed, or at least got bad enough to the point where I do need to address it.
Recently I had to replace the handbrake release lever. The Touareg uses a foot operated handbrake, and then a hand pull lever to release said handbrake (parking brake, for my American readers – in this context your terminology makes far more sense!)
After being quoted some horrendous sum from a dealer, I did the work myself along with my dad who is far more practical than me (he occasionally writes for this site – it’s a bit of a family effort). You can read more about that particular repair here.
However, another issue has raised its head since this repair.
For some time, the Touareg has had an intermittent issue in which it is hard to release the parking brake/handbrake. Basically I would pull the lever, and then the light stays on. What this means is that when driving away, if the light is not out the car makes some horrendous warning sound and lights up the dashboard (because it thinks the parking brake is still engaged).
This wouldn’t happen all the time, and was usually easy to solve by holding the pull lever out for slightly longer … One Mississippi, Two Mississippi and you’re good to go.
Now the error happens every time I start the car and attempt to move away, and it is also harder to solve. For example, yesterday in the gym carpark I went to leave. I started the Touareg and pulled the lever. The parking brake light switched off, but then came back on again after the car started pulling away … along with a typically VW-esque screaming alarm warning. It then took several attempts to try and properly disable the light by pulling on the handbrake lever and releasing it.
As luck would have it, it sounds like the Touareg parking brake light not switching off and a hideous alarm noise sounding is a relatively common issue, and one that can be fixed at home.
Apparently it is most commonly caused by the gas strut that effectively pushes the handbrake pedal back to “neutral” position (ready to be used again next time you park) wearing out. You can read more about that here. This fault would make sense, as I can bodge a fix by simply putting my left foot under the parking brake pedal and pushing it back up towards me while working the release handle – this must give the piston/strut just enough of an extra shove to travel its full distance and properly deactivate the brake.
Therefore, my first port of call is going to be to try and source one of these parking brake pedal struts/pistons and replacing that to see if it fixes the problem – I will keep you posted.
When I was having a steering angle sensor fixed by the local VW specialist, they quoted me several hundred dollars to fix this parking brake problem – so I’d love to be able to buy a cheap part and do it myself to extract some extra life out of the old beast.
If you’ve dealt with this issue and have any other suggestions, please do let me know in the comment section.
Don’t forget to read our comprehensive Volkswagen Touareg buyer’s guide, so you can avoid making the same mistakes as me! You can also read the full, sordid tale of the reliability woes of my Touareg.