Brake bias has moved ever rearward in the past decade. As time goes on, I've noticed that the newer my cars get, the quicker the rear pads wear in comparison to the fronts. Front pads are lasting fifty to sixty thousand miles, while the rear set can is barely making it to thirty thousand.
In theory, replacing a set of rear pads is a cinch. For Volvo drivers with a vehicle equipped with an electronic parking brake, there is another step involved that may seem like a money grab for the dealership. Don't worry, though, there is another way.
How do Electronic Parking Brakes (EPB) 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 and/or Electronics Aren't Required to Reset the Electronic Parking Brake (EPB)
With the motor removed, the input shaft for the piston retraction is visible. This allows the piston to be retracted manually using a T20 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.
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 EBS301 are made specifically to manipulate electronic parking brake systems from European manufacturers. These use reverse engineering to crack the codes of Volvo, Mercedes, and BMW vehicles.
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.
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.