Don’t Forget to Use Your Parking Brake

The parking brake is sometimes called a handbrake or an emergency brake, depending on who you’re talking to. It’s no wonder some drivers become confused about its function and when to use it. The method of how you use it will change depending on whether you have an automatic transmission or a manual. All parking brakes are not made equal across the board. Some vehicles may have a hand brake, a switch brake, or a foot brake depending on its make and model. The parking brake has a mechanical system that bypasses the hydraulic braking system. This system stops the car in an emergency or keeps it in place when it’s parked. Knowing the proper time to use your parking brake is vital in operating your vehicle and is often overlooked. Below is a list of tips for when it may be best to use your parking brake.

  • For everyday parking, you should use your parking brake before shifting your car into the park gear. Using the parking brake before putting the vehicle into park limits the stress placed on your transmission, prevents parking failure, and provides an extra layer of security. If the parking brake isn’t used regularly, the cables that are located under the car can corrode and get stuck in place. If this happens, you will have a big problem. Corrosion of your brake cables may result in the parking brake becoming unusable. 
  • The parking brake can prevent your car from rolling backward or forwards when on a hill.
  • Use your parking brake in case of an emergency. If you’re having difficulty stopping your car, press the brake pedal and slowly pull the emergency brake handle to come to a complete stop. Do not use your parking brake if the weather is extreme. Engaging the parking brake during snow and heavy rain can lead to the rear wheels to lock up.
  • When you’re parking close to another car, especially near a curb, it is an excellent opportunity to use your emergency brake because it prevents the car from rolling if it’s been hit.
  • Some experts suggest using the parking brake while you sit and wait at the intersection. This is advice you should use with caution. The parking brake could prevent your car from rolling into the intersection if it’s hit from behind, but may take longer to release it before it’s your time to go during a green light. If you don’t remember the parking brake is pulled, you can attempt to drive with it on and accidentally damage your entire braking system.
  • Use your handbrake when changing a flat tire. This is a vital safety precaution because it ensures the rear wheels don’t spin during the tire swap.

The parking brake is an essential function that drivers sometimes overlook during their commute. And it shouldn’t only be used during an emergency. The parking brake should be used most during everyday parking situations. When used effectively, it can prevent transmission damage and stop your vehicle from rolling if it’s been hit. Lack of usage can lead to the cables underneath your car to corrode or snap, so it’s best to make an effort to start using it when you feel comfortable.