Right I've had a good search through the forum and couldn't find a guide to replacing the front section of the Handbrake cable so I thought I'd create one. I'm not sure if all the vans are the same but mine is a 2001 1.9td.
After getting a quote of 65 pounds plus VAT from my local garage I decided it couldn't really be that hard and decided to have a crack at it myself. The only part that bothered me was where it vanished over the top of the fuel tank. Turns out there's nothing to worry about.
15mm Socket (If removing Drivers Seat)
Here's the damaged section of Cable:
The new cable from VW. Despite appearances it is long enough! This cost me 16 pounds plus Vat.
Start by slackening off the bolt at the end of the cable. Then unhook the spring from the retainer. As a point of note I should have bought a replacement nut and cable end piece as well as these were in shocking condition. Being as the van is my only transport and the dealer is 10 miles away the old ones are back on for now, but they will be replaced.
Once you've done this you can then unbolt the handbrake lever in the cab. Remove the two wires going into the switch and then unhook the end of the cable from the hook on the handbrake lever.
Once you've done this you can then remove the gromits from the centre sections of the cable run. In the picture the fuel tank is on the top of the shot and the grime has been partially cleaned with a wire brush.
Once these are removed the old cable can be removed from under the van. This shot looks up through the top of the fuel tank to the hole in the cab floor.
Fitting the new one is just a simple matter of pushing the end up through this hole. Then the gromits are pushed back into their brackets. Mine needed some gentle persuasion with the end of the screwdriver! Once the gromits are in place I then went back into the cab and attached the end of the cable onto the handbrake lever. Remember to attach a small cable tie onto the hook. I've not shown this but I've indicated where it should go. (Mmm sorry there should be an arrow pointing to the corner of the hook, but hopefully you can make out where it should go.)
Once you've attached the cable in classic Haynes style, refitting is the reverse of removal!
Then once the handbrake is reattached I then went to the other end of the cable and replaced the nut and spring etc. Apologies I forgot to take a shot of this, but it's simply a reversal of the disassembly procedure.
Then you can adjust the new handbrake cable using the adjusting nut.
Here's a couple of shots of the old and new cables side by side:
Hopefully thats been helpfull to folk.