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Hi there Sarah.
I'm a wee bit confused that the box where the handbrake lever moved - perhaps its was just because the lever travelled further than it normally would?
There is normally a total of 3 seperate cables (one from the lever - which is the one which normally gets adjusted), the other 2 are linked from it in a 'Y' formation to each rear wheel. The theory is that if one of those cables snaps - there should be braking from the remaining rear wheel.
It does sound like the cable at the lever has given up the ghost here (which would mean that the entire handbrake effort has been lost).
The part can be sourced from any local motor factors - cost of the part should be under £30.
It could be DIY fitted (with a combination of ramps & axle stands) and would probably take no more than an hour from start to finish (remembering to fit the cable with the handbrake set in the released position). For a garage, well an hour's labour rate (whatever that would be).
Bear in mind that although the car will drive as normal, it is an MOT requirement to have an effective handbrake, so don't put off getting this done.
Hope that helps & have a good Christmas & New Year.
This job should never be complete - the day I think I've done it all, is the day I resign.
Currently in VelSatisfied's garage:
2005 FIAT Ducato 2.8JTD LWB Gran Volume, 2000 Kawasaki ZZR 1100 D7 'fullpower' in black + full GIVI & KAPPA luggage, 2007 MB R-Class 320 CDi Sport LWB uprated by Brabus to 300Bhp don't know if there's a 155mph limiter - will be fun finding out! 2004 Mercedes Vaneo 1.7 CDi Ambiente 7-seater