The Volvo electronic parking brake is often referred to by names such as the emergency brake or handbrake or even abbreviated as "EPB". No matter what it's referred to as, you will hear of the inevitable problems and that it needs to be serviced.
For Volvo drivers, when replacing rear brake pads, there's an extra step they must go through before the job is complete, and that's resetting the electronic parking brake using a special tool. This tool is typically referred to as VIDA, but there are ways around using this specific Volvo tool.
How Do Electronic Parking Brakes Work?
Before we get into how to use special tools to reset the parking brake, you should understand how they work. Electronic parking brakes have eliminated the use of long, sloppy cables that traditional lever-based parking brakes have utilized for years. While this removes complexity in one area, it adds it to another. Most vehicles with EPB have small motors attached to the rear calipers. When you press a switch inside the cabin of the car, these motors are used to wind the caliper's pistons in and out, simulating a parking brake being pulled.
VIDA/Electronics Aren't Required To Reset The Volvo Electronic Parking Brake
With the motor removed, the input shaft for the piston retraction is visible. This allows the piston to be retracted manually using a T40 Torx bit. Turning this shaft clockwise by hand will slowly retract it in, allowing the caliper to be removed for pad, rotor, or even caliper replacement.
When using this method, we recommend replacing the parking brake seal and adding Loctite to the EPB bolts.
Electronic Parking Brake Release Tool - Aftermarket VIDA Alternative
VIDA is Volvo's tool to interface with the many systems on P2 and P3 vehicles. It allows a technician to manipulate most every actuator, and read the data from all of the sensors easily. For the home mechanic, it is a cost-prohibitive tool that is limited by the inability to license most of the software downloads and upgrades.
To sidestep VIDA, you require an aftermarket tool. Many exist, and tools like the Autel MX808 are capable of manipulating parking brake systems from European manufacturers. These use reverse engineering to crack the codes of Volvo, Mercedes, and BMW vehicles. Beyond just being used for the electronic parking brakes, the MX808 can perform a myriad of useful diagnostic functions on your car and is one of the most useful tools you can have at your disposal.
Buying a dedicated electronic parking brake tool is a small investment that will ensure easy brake jobs for years to come. For the infrequent DIY'er, simply removing the EPB motor and retracting the piston manually is a perfectly viable alternative method.
If you interested in more Volvo content, whether that is DIYs, builds, or news, visit our Volvo hub at volvo.fcpeuro.com. If you have any questions about this process, leave them in the comments section below.
Alex is FCP’s Blog Editor and a Desktop Engineer from Endwell, NY. He has over 9 years of experience working on a wide array of import makes, but has found his home with European cars. With a BMW and Volvo at home, the garage is always busy.