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View Full Version : Do you use your car's parking/emergency brake daily?


Girl From Mars
04-10-2012, 05:43 PM
I was listening to a recent Car Talk podcast, where a woman rang up asking about some advice she'd received recommending her to use her 'emergency brake' daily, which she was very surprised by. I figured this was something special on American cars (I live in Australia but have driven in NZ and the UK), only for it to be clarified that this is what I'd call the handbrake.

I learned to drive a manual, but currently drive an automatic, but I would use the handbrake each and every time I parked my car - wouldn't think of not using it, regardless of situation. Is this unusual? Is this a throwback to my manual car days, and not required on an automatic?

begbert2
04-10-2012, 05:52 PM
I have an automatic, and have never engaged the emergency brake with the aim of using it to keep the car motionless. (I have played with it a bit, just to check it out. It makes ratchety sounds!) My car has a gear called park that comes with a thing called a parking brake, which seems to work well enough. Of course, I don't go around parking on steep slopes or anything.

PS: I have never driven a manual shift car.

Thudlow Boink
04-10-2012, 05:59 PM
I use the parking brake every time I park, for reasons I gave in this old thread on parking brakes (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=410219).

Kalypso
04-10-2012, 06:09 PM
If I'm driving a manual I engage the parking brake every time I park.

If I'm driving an automatic I don't engage the parking brake if I'm parked level, but I'll use it if there's a chance the car might roll if the transmission were to fail to keep it stopped.

jz78817
04-10-2012, 06:11 PM
both of my cars are manuals, so every time I park. If I'm driving a car with an automatic I generally don't; I don't know if it's ever been used and I don't want to use it and find it won't disengage.

Joey P
04-10-2012, 06:15 PM
I virtually never do when I'm driving automatic. Honestly, how many automatic cars have you seen break the parking pawl and take off down a hill? The only time I've done it is when I'm on a ridiculously steep hill (like the type from the sidewalk up the the house, far steeper then a street would be) and I know that when I take my foot off the brake the car will roll back an inch and that pressure will make it hard to shift out of park later. But even then it's more for fun anyways. I'm truly not worried about anything bad happening.

Also, I don't point my wheels into the curb when I park on a hill either.

ETA, I should add that I ALWAYS use my handbrake on a manual transmission car even though I know a lot of people just put it in second. I never trusted that, at all. It always feels like it's going to roll away.
Also, I've seen a lot of cars have their E-brake get stuck on if they haven't been used in a long (as in years) time. So I do from time to time pull mine a few times so that if I ever do need to use it I don't have to worry about it getting stuck and I do, in fact, know that it works.

Christopher Robin Davies
04-10-2012, 06:15 PM
I use the emergency brake pretty much every time I park because years ago I decided I wanted it to be so habitual that I would not have to think about it anymore. I think it was when my cousin neglected to leave hers on one day and her car rolled out of my parents' driveway and into the street. I was 17. I know it is not strictly necessary but I do not want to try to retrain myself as the effort costs nothing.

johnpost
04-10-2012, 06:17 PM
using the parking/hand brake periodically can adjust your rear brake mechanism.

ZenBeam
04-10-2012, 06:18 PM
I use the parking brake when I park, as a habit I first got into with a manual transmission long ago.

I've heard somewhere that having the car resting on the gears, due to a slope, is bad on the transmission or the gears or something. I've also heard that that's a load of hooey. Even so, I still follow the ritual of putting on the parking brake, letting the brake stop the car, then putting it into park. It may not help, but that's what I do.

Pork Rind
04-10-2012, 06:20 PM
My car has a gear called park that comes with a thing called a parking brake, which seems to work well enough.

Putting the car in park does not apply any brakes. It engages a pin in the transmission that locks the gear in place. That pin, or other components of the transmission can fail, especially if your car is bumped hard by another car. Then if the real parking brake isn't applied, away we go. I've heard, but cannot prove one way or the other, that relying on the pin is hard on the transmission when parking on a hill. My car certainly lurches against the pin if I put it in park and let off the foot brake on a hill.

It doesn't cost anything, in time or in money, to apply the actual parking brake. It provides an additional measure of security and may reduce transmission wear. I don't see why I wouldn't use it.

That's for my automatic transmission car. For my car with a manual transmission, I don't see how you could safely not use it.

Christopher Robin Davies
04-10-2012, 06:22 PM
using the parking/hand brake periodically can adjust your rear brake mechanism.

What do you mean? Are you trying to say using the parking brake every time you park can cause the rear brake to be malajusted? You are not being clear I am afraid.

begbert2
04-10-2012, 06:23 PM
Putting the car in park does not apply any brakes. It engages a pin in the transmission that locks the gear in place. That pin, or other components of the transmission can fail, especially if your car is bumped hard by another car. Then if the real parking brake isn't applied, away we go. I've heard, but cannot prove one way or the other, that relying on the pin is hard on the transmission when parking on a hill. My car certainly lurches against the pin if I put it in park and let off the foot brake on a hill.

It doesn't cost anything, in time or in money, to apply the actual parking brake. It provides an additional measure of security and may reduce transmission wear. I don't see why I wouldn't use it.

That's for my automatic transmission car. For my car with a manual transmission, I don't see how you could safely not use it.Ah, okay. Ignorance fought.

The only anecdote I've personally heard about parking brakes was the time my friend drove home, got out, and smelled smoke. He looked back and saw that the inside of his rear wheel was on fire. Yep; he'd left the emergency brake on.

Joey P
04-10-2012, 06:27 PM
using the parking/hand brake periodically can adjust your rear brake mechanism.
I don't know about that, but I do know that driving in reverse and applying your regular brakes (if you have drums on the back) will adjust them. Happens every time you back out of a parking spot.

Putting the car in park does not apply any brakes. It engages a pin in the transmission that locks the gear in place. That pin, or other components of the transmission can fail, especially if your car is bumped hard by another car. Then if the real parking brake isn't applied, away we go. I've heard, but cannot prove one way or the other, that relying on the pin is hard on the transmission when parking on a hill. My car certainly lurches against the pin if I put it in park and let off the foot brake on a hill.

It doesn't cost anything, in time or in money, to apply the actual parking brake. It provides an additional measure of security and may reduce transmission wear. I don't see why I wouldn't use it.

That's for my automatic transmission car. For my car with a manual transmission, I don't see how you could safely not use it.
If you're going to argue that relying on the Park causes wear and tear on the transmission then you can't say "It doesn't cost anything, in time or in money, to apply the actual parking brake."

If you argue that relying on the parking brake is hard on the transmission (and by that I infer from you it may mean repairs some day) you must also accept that using the parking brake causes wear and tear in all the gears, ratchets, springs, cables and shoes and linings from the part you pull all the way down to wear the lining pushing against the drum.

(FTR, I'm not trying to be annoying, I'm just pointing out that they both involve wear and tear, it's not that one is free and the other isn't).

Al Bundy
04-10-2012, 07:23 PM
I can tell you that if the emergency brake is not maintained, it will cause a problem one day. First, it's required by law to be functional in my state and used in certain circumstances. If not used, it will eventually become corroded and not work. What can happen is that when it becomes necessary to apply, it can lock the brakes and not unlock when released. Leaven the brake on in icy weather can cause the same.

I don't use my emergency brake with my automatic Sierra. I keep the cables well greased. Every couple of weeks or so I will apply the brake off and on 10-12 times while parked and then leave it on as I place the transmission in drive. I do this to see that the brake is holding and also to feel the release when I pull the lever.

I park on level terrain against a curb in the carport when home. Not using the brake is probably a bad old habit that I don't expect to change along with many other habits.

pullin
04-10-2012, 07:37 PM
I routinely have multiple trailers behind my truck. On any kind of slope, the additional weight is hard on the parking pawl, and would make it difficult to shift out of park. So I'm in the habit of always applying the parking brake (with or without a load).

Rhiannon8404
04-10-2012, 07:44 PM
I always use my emergency/parking break every time I park my car, manual or automatic. I always have. My dad taught me to, so I do. I have never forgotten to release it when starting up again and I have never had a problem with them not functioning at some point.

Rachellelogram
04-10-2012, 07:54 PM
I've had my current car for almost 3 years, and I've never engaged the parking brake. I never park on hills, so what's the point? Also, it's one of those stupid foot-operated parking brakes, and it's very awkwardly-positioned. I have very short legs (I'm short already, and mostly torso on top of that), so I have to drive with my seat almost all the way forward. So basically, there's no way for me to use my parking brake without moving my seat back (which would mean I couldn't hit the gas and brake pedals). Damn stumpy legs.

My last car had a stick-type of parking brake. Much handier for someone who's stumpy and fat. I only used it when parking on hills, though. One time I forgot it was on and wondered why I couldn't coast for shit... heh. Whoops!

GreedySmurf
04-10-2012, 08:02 PM
The SDMB is a constant source of amazement to me, that repeatedly confirms the great line from Pulp Fiction 'It's the little differences'.

What in the States is apparently called an 'Emergency' brake is simply the handbrake in Australia. And regardless of Manual or Auto transmission, you are taught to engage it whenever you park the car, period. Depending upon how anal your driving instructor is, you may also be taught to engage it when sitting at the lights. Not that I do, but when learning it is probably good, even if just to get more practice with a hill start. (which is a standard 'must complete' part of the driving test over here) [Of course this is all based on learning to drive some mumble 20 something mumble years ago]

And just to begbert2, the ratchety sounds when engaging the handbrake is not ideal, you should depress the button prior to pulling the handbrake, you don't get the ratchet sounds then :)

jz78817
04-10-2012, 08:15 PM
The SDMB is a constant source of amazement to me, that repeatedly confirms the great line from Pulp Fiction 'It's the little differences'.

What in the States is apparently called an 'Emergency' brake is simply the handbrake in Australia. And regardless of Manual or Auto transmission, you are taught to engage it whenever you park the car, period. Depending upon how anal your driving instructor is, you may also be taught to engage it when sitting at the lights. Not that I do, but when learning it is probably good, even if just to get more practice with a hill start. (which is a standard 'must complete' part of the driving test over here) [Of course this is all based on learning to drive some mumble 20 something mumble years ago]

Yeah, whatever. I don't go around acting all amazed that the verb "root" has a profane meaning in Australia.

amarinth
04-10-2012, 08:16 PM
I drive a manual, so I always use the emergency brake and I live in a hilly area, so I turn the tires when I park on a hill.

It wouldn't even occur to me not to do both of those things on the rare occasion when I drive an automatic. I had no idea people would park without using their parking brake.

davidm
04-10-2012, 08:21 PM
I always do it, almost subconsciously. It's how I was taught and it's a habit that's as ingrained as using turn signals or looking in the mirror before pulling out from the curb.

I've never watched what others do (why would I?), so I guess I assumed everyone does it.

GreedySmurf
04-10-2012, 08:28 PM
Yeah, whatever. I don't go around acting all amazed that the verb "root" has a profane meaning in Australia.

Sorry if I offended. :confused:

I was simply trying to share the fact, that if it wasn't for this thread (and the board in general on a wide range of topics), I would have just assumed everyone used the handbrake all the time. Sorry for sharing. I'll stop post haste.

Sister Vigilante
04-10-2012, 08:34 PM
I always do it, almost subconsciously. It's how I was taught and it's a habit that's as ingrained as using turn signals or looking in the mirror before pulling out from the curb.

I've never watched what others do (why would I?), so I guess I assumed everyone does it.

Same here. It just part of parking the car, even if on a totally flat surface in the middle of summer. I do it in my garage where it can't go anywhere even if "park" failed on me.

Hubby never does it and it really bothers me.

jabiru
04-10-2012, 08:58 PM
It wouldn't occur to me not to put on the handbrake. It's as automatic to me as turning off the ignition.

hogarth
04-10-2012, 09:02 PM
I've only driven cars with automatic transmissions in fairly flat cities, so I almost never use the parking brake. And every time I've used it, I've forgotten to disengage it. Every. Time.

chizzuk
04-10-2012, 09:02 PM
I set the parking brake when I took my driver's test, because it was a required step to avoid failing the test. I haven't used it again since.

Thudlow Boink
04-10-2012, 09:03 PM
Question to all of you Australians calling it the "handbrake": do you not have cars in Australia with pedal-operated parking brakes?

Telemark
04-10-2012, 10:02 PM
I've pretty much always owned manuals, so I've always used the parking brake. In the winter you have to keep an eye on it so it doesn't ice up, but it's good protection in case the stick gets bumped and the car drops out of gear. On my GF's automatic it's a foot pedal, but we always use it on that car as well.

johnpost
04-10-2012, 10:26 PM
using the parking/hand brake periodically can adjust your rear brake mechanism.

What do you mean? Are you trying to say using the parking brake every time you park can cause the rear brake to be malajusted? You are not being clear I am afraid.

engaging the parking brake can operate adjusting mechanisms that adjust for wear on brake components. depends on your cars particulars.

Marconi N. Cheese
04-10-2012, 10:28 PM
I only use mine for drifting around corners and break-checking tailgaters. j/k
I've got an auto and I use the brake every time I park. It's a habit, like wearing a seatbelt. Mine is the handbrake style, not the pedal type.

Rick
04-10-2012, 10:34 PM
Just a quick data point. In all my years of working on cars I have seen two or maybe three cars with broken parking pawls.
Spread over 40+ years, I can say that this problem is very rare. not unknown, but damn rare.
I have on the other hand seen dozens and dozens (maybe hundreds) of cars that have had the e-brake left on either wearing out the rear brakes prematurely, or causing other issues. This driver created problem is much much more common.

PandaBear77
04-10-2012, 10:35 PM
I'll use mine if parking on a hill, otherwise no.

Suburban Plankton
04-10-2012, 10:53 PM
I currently drive a stick. I use the parking brake every single time I park the car, without exception.

The first car I ever owned was an automatic. I used the parking brake every single time I parked the car, without exception.

I've had a number of other cars in between. On those I used the parking brake every single time I parked the car, without exception.

I heard the same episode of Car Talk; before that episode, it never occurred to me that there might be people who wouldn't use the parking brake every time.

jjimm
04-10-2012, 11:05 PM
Question to all of you Australians calling it the "handbrake": do you not have cars in Australia with pedal-operated parking brakes?Brits call it the handbrake too, and I've never seen a car in the UK with a pedal-operated emergency or parking brake.

california jobcase
04-10-2012, 11:14 PM
You Brits and Aussies would just love my truck- it has a manual transmission and a pedal-operated parking brake. I do use it when I park.

Really Not All That Bright
04-10-2012, 11:16 PM
I put it on every time, but I learned to drive in the UK. It's just one of those things American drivers don't do. The others are indicating when changing lanes or turning, and moving the fuck out of the fast lane when not overtaking anyone. You get used to it.
Brits call it the handbrake too, and I've never seen a car in the UK with a pedal-operated emergency or parking brake.
Most Mercedes models from about 1980 on have pedal-operated hand/parking brakes.

Eliahna
04-10-2012, 11:56 PM
The SDMB is a constant source of amazement to me, that repeatedly confirms the great line from Pulp Fiction 'It's the little differences'.

What in the States is apparently called an 'Emergency' brake is simply the handbrake in Australia. And regardless of Manual or Auto transmission, you are taught to engage it whenever you park the car, period. Depending upon how anal your driving instructor is, you may also be taught to engage it when sitting at the lights. Not that I do, but when learning it is probably good, even if just to get more practice with a hill start. (which is a standard 'must complete' part of the driving test over here) [Of course this is all based on learning to drive some mumble 20 something mumble years ago
The Smurf speaks for me too.

Flyer
04-11-2012, 12:29 AM
I live in Colorado Springs, where we have a LOT of hills. A lot of us think that routinely using the parking brake is something that only overly-cautious people do. We routinely park on slopes that you flatlanders would be amazed at.

One of my cars has a habit of burning out the brake light on the dashboard. I once burned out the parking brake because of that. (I was parked on an icy slope at the time.) I have, on occasion, chocked the wheels with a big stick or rock.

davidm
04-11-2012, 12:30 AM
I put it on every time, but I learned to drive in the UK. It's just one of those things American drivers don't do. The others are indicating when changing lanes or turning, and moving the fuck out of the fast lane when not overtaking anyone. You get used to it.I'm born, raised, and living in the US and, other than the fast lane thing, which I've noticed at times, I have no idea where you got these ideas. Maybe it depends on the part of the country?

GreedySmurf
04-11-2012, 01:12 AM
Question to all of you Australians calling it the "handbrake": do you not have cars in Australia with pedal-operated parking brakes?

I've seen one or two models here in Australia which has the foot-pedal operated version. I couldn't recall what models they were, but both times it was a hire car, and I recall the first time sitting in the drivers seat and spending 4-5 minutes looking for the handbrake. :smack:

davidm
04-11-2012, 01:25 AM
I think (someone correct me if I'm wrong) the foot operated parking brake was pretty much standard in the US years ago, my first two or three cars had it. My more recent cars have all had the hand operated brake.

I think it depends on whether you have bench or bucket seats.

With a bench there's no space between the seats, so the parking brake becomes a foot operated pedal on the far left and the shifter is on the steering wheel.

My father, for some reason, hated bucket seats; so his cars always had the foot brake and the shifter on the wheel. My mother still has the last car he bought and it has that arrangement.

Voyager
04-11-2012, 01:33 AM
I virtually never do when I'm driving automatic. Honestly, how many automatic cars have you seen break the parking pawl and take off down a hill? The only time I've done it is when I'm on a ridiculously steep hill (like the type from the sidewalk up the the house, far steeper then a street would be) and I know that when I take my foot off the brake the car will roll back an inch and that pressure will make it hard to shift out of park later. But even then it's more for fun anyways. I'm truly not worried about anything bad happening.


I don't know if the car was an automatic or not, but when I was about 8 a car did exactly this and nearly killed me. My mother took me to the doctors, whose office was in a shopping center with a parking lot with quite a slope. I was in back and was about to get out the driver's side, which faced up hill, when she told me to get out the other side. I was just closing the door when a car slipped its brake and smashed into the back driver's side door.
Needless to say I always set my brake.

Nava
04-11-2012, 01:37 AM
Sorry if I offended. :confused:

I was simply trying to share the fact, that if it wasn't for this thread (and the board in general on a wide range of topics), I would have just assumed everyone used the handbrake all the time. Sorry for sharing. I'll stop post haste.

Don't, I had the same reaction as you... "my car has an emergency brake? where? there's an emergency feature I don't know how to use? *read OP* ay caramba, the handbrake, why can't they speak normal..."



I always use it. Every car I've owned has been a manual; I use it when I'm driving an automatic too.

davidm
04-11-2012, 01:51 AM
...why can't they speak normal..."
"Normal" depends on where you live. In the US, the item in question comes in two different configurations, hand operated and foot operated, so it wouldn't make a lot of sense to refer to it as a hand brake.

A lot of people here do refer to it as an "emergency brake". I tend to call it a parking brake. I think that makes the most sense since it describes its main function and isn't dependent on the configuration.

I think the "emergency brake" designation comes from the idea of using it as an emergency measure if the regular brakes fail on the highway.

Nava
04-11-2012, 02:35 AM
"Normal" depends on where you live.

Woosh.

davidm
04-11-2012, 04:19 AM
Woosh.No woosh. I responded to that in order to explain the differences in terminology.

Nava
04-11-2012, 04:57 AM
Yes, but the "speak normal" was a joke and the foot brake thing had already been mentioned.

davidm
04-11-2012, 05:26 AM
I understood it was a joke. That's why I said "no woosh".

Philster
04-11-2012, 05:47 AM
I use it regularly, but I park on a variety of surfaces an grades, and sometimes I drive a manual, automatic or tow/carry a heavy load.

It's a habit that can only help and not hurt; therefore, I always apply the parking brake.

I don't want to apply thought to it (consider the vehicle, slope and the load/towing, etc). Nothing good can come from it.

.

tumbleddown
04-11-2012, 06:39 AM
When I drove my first car, a big land yacht 70s Cadillac coupe that I inherited from my father, (his dream car) I engaged the parking brake every time, largely because it was a pedal with a nifty release button and I liked using it. Driving that car felt like a ritual, and that was part of it.

On my second car, a manual Honda, I would engage when parking in public and especially on hills (I live in a hilly place), but not in my own level carport.

On subsequent cars, all automatics, I've only engaged the brake if parking on a hill which I try not to do on general principle. After reading this thread I might start using the brake occasionally just to keep everything in good order.

Cat Whisperer
04-11-2012, 07:22 AM
I usually engage the emergency brake on my manual transmission car when I park it; my husband does not. This leads to interesting situations when I've parked my car and he gets in to drive it next time. :)

bouv
04-11-2012, 07:26 AM
Not only do I drive a manual, but I live in a hilly area, and I still rarely use my parking brake...though to be fair, it's not very often I actually park on a hill. On when I do park on a hill, I'll use it...but that's maybe 5% of the time.

I probably should get in the habit of using it...a manual transmission in gear is nowhere near as safe from rolling as an automatic in park.

Machine Elf
04-11-2012, 07:32 AM
My car has a manual transmission. When parked, I leave it in first gear and I always use the parking brake. On a hill, if I leave the parking brake off, the engine will slowly roll over, and the car will creep downhill.

My wife's car has an automatic. I don't bother with the parking brake unless I'm on a hill. Going without it isn't particularly hard on the power-transmitting parts of the transmission, but it does put some strain on the linkage between the gear selector and the transmission when you later try to take it out of park (in some cars on some hills, it can even be physically difficult to get out of park). So to get going again, I put my foot on the main brake, release the parking brake, and take it out of park before releasing the main brake again.

If I'm parallel-parked on a hill in either car, I turn the steering so that the front end of the car will come against the curb if things let loose. This is such an easy step I'm amazed at how rarely I see it done.

Johanna
04-11-2012, 07:56 AM
It's been about 20 years since I drove manual, but even with an automatic I always engage the parking/hand/brake at the same time as putting into park, and release it when starting, just as habitually.

Especially since seeing The Omen. :eek:

Dendarii Dame
04-11-2012, 08:00 AM
Our driveway is very steep. I definitely use my parking brake on it. I use it everywhere else, too, because that's what my driving instructor taught me.

Smapti
04-11-2012, 08:03 AM
I can't imagine why you'd ever not engage the parking brake.

kanicbird
04-11-2012, 09:34 AM
I've noticed on a FWD car, perhaps more then one, that the PARK position does not stop the wheels from rotating, but causes counter rotation of the front wheels. If you jack up the front end and spin the right front tire forward the left front will rotate backwards and visa-versa. But here is is mentioned that the parking prawl locks the gear which would seem to indicate that the wheels should not turn at all. So how does it work?

control-z
04-11-2012, 09:47 AM
II drive a manual, I engage the parking brake when I'm parked on any sort of incline. So yes, just about daily.

california jobcase
04-11-2012, 11:04 AM
Kanicbird, that's because of the differential. RWD cars would do the same thing. There's a good animation here-
http://auto.howstuffworks.com/differential2.htm

When the car's in park, the pinion is locked and can't move. Neither can the ring gear, but the pinion gears can rotate. Turn one wheel, and the pinion gears turn the other wheel in the opposite direction. When both wheels are on the ground, neither can turn.

I have also had cars with bench or bucket seats that had the hand-operated brake located under the dashboard. You pulled the handle out to engage the brake and gave it a twist to release it (usually, but Corvairs were different). Dodge Dart, Corvair, Chevelle, Ford Maverick and Studebaker Lark come to mind. I may have owned others.

Tom Tildrum
04-11-2012, 11:06 AM
I habitually use mine, because otherwise, when I've stopped the car, it often will rock a little bit when I take my foot off the brake pedal. Using the e-brake smoothes that out.

My wife's car is a 2010, and her parking brake is electronic. One just pushes a button instead of yanking on a lever. Progress marches on, I guess, but I kind of miss the sound of the physical parking brake. Also, while I've never yet had occasion to drift or do an emergency 180, at least I had the option, but not in her car.

mkecane
04-11-2012, 11:57 AM
ETA, I should add that I ALWAYS use my handbrake on a manual transmission car even though I know a lot of people just put it in second. I never trusted that, at all. It always feels like it's going to roll away.

Why 2nd? I have a manual and put it in 1st gear and use the parking brake, too. What's the advantage to 2nd gear instead of 1st?

Patty O'Furniture
04-11-2012, 12:44 PM
In Thailand it's possible that you may have to push another car out of your way in order to get out of your parking space, so you can't apply the parking brake whenever you park in a parking garage or large parking lot. I've personally had to do this a dozen or so times in the six months I've been here. It's a lot like those puzzles where you have to slide tiles around inside a small frame to get the picture to appear properly.

Link below shows people pushing cars out of their way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wn6jTsXNjmM

Boyo Jim
04-11-2012, 12:55 PM
I think (someone correct me if I'm wrong) the foot operated parking brake was pretty much standard in the US years ago, my first two or three cars had it. My more recent cars have all had the hand operated brake.

I think it depends on whether you have bench or bucket seats.

With a bench there's no space between the seats, so the parking brake becomes a foot operated pedal on the far left and the shifter is on the steering wheel.

My father, for some reason, hated bucket seats; so his cars always had the foot brake and the shifter on the wheel. My mother still has the last car he bought and it has that arrangement.

I seem to recall that long ago when I was a kid there was a third location -- in the dashboard. It was a handle you would pull out to engage, and to release it you would turn the handle 90 degrees to unlock it and let it slide forward again to the dash. I think maybe my dad's Ford Falcon had an emergency brake like that.

Chopper9760
04-11-2012, 01:18 PM
I always have manuals but I don't use the brake unless I'm on a very steep hill.

Idaho has big temperature spreads, even in the summer we might wake up with frost on the windshield. Since parking brakes freeze so easily we were always taught not to use them habitually.

I can't think of anyone who sets it habitually so this thread surprised me.

Joey P
04-11-2012, 01:58 PM
Why 2nd? I have a manual and put it in 1st gear and use the parking brake, too. What's the advantage to 2nd gear instead of 1st?
I honestly don't know, just something I've heard, but since I don't do it I never really investigated it or gave it much thought. I'm sure if it was something I did, I'd probably do some research on which gear to use.

enipla
04-11-2012, 02:10 PM
When I drove a manual, I sure did. But it was a hand brake right there almost in the way of the shifter. My current automatic has a foot brake parking brake, and itís easy to forget about both putting it on and taking it off. Canít even see the thing if youíre in the drivers seat. Unless Iím on a steep hill, I donít use it.

enipla
04-11-2012, 02:12 PM
Idaho has big temperature spreads, even in the summer we might wake up with frost on the windshield. Since parking brakes freeze so easily we were always taught not to use them habitually. Huh. Never heard of this being a problem and have never experienced it.

pulykamell
04-11-2012, 03:10 PM
I've been driving a manual for the last ten years, so, yes, I always use my parking brake, incline or no incline. When I drove automatics, I never used the parking brake, except in the case of inclines. I honestly do not know of a single other automatic driver that uses the e-brake when driving. I will use it now when I drive my wife's car (an automatic) out of habit, but normally I would not use the parking brake on a slushbox.

Hermitian
04-11-2012, 03:58 PM
I can't imagine why you'd ever not engage the parking brake.

Well, if you are driving an automatic and you aren't parking on a steep incline (probably 99% of the time, if not more), then you don't need to. I think the thread backs that up.

Pixel_Dent
04-11-2012, 04:43 PM
When I was a teenager I parked in my parent's slightly inclined driveway. Half an hour later I came out and found the car across the street in the middle of a neighbor's lawn. Another neighbor said he saw it roll across by itself.

At this point I've been driving a manual transmission for the last 25 years so of course I always use the parking break but I do even when renting an automatic. I also turn the wheels into the curb. What's the harm in putting all the odds in your favor?

Girl From Mars
04-11-2012, 05:19 PM
Well, if you are driving an automatic and you aren't parking on a steep incline (probably 99% of the time, if not more), then you don't need to. I think the thread backs that up.
It backs up what people do, but not necessarily what's best. Interesting, seems to be a geographic thing, with most Aussies using it, and most USers not. Wiki is predicably definitive and unreliable as to be expected:
Automotive safety experts [who?] recommend the use of both systems to immobilize a parked car, and the use of both systems is required by law in some places [where?]. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parking_brake)

kushiel
04-11-2012, 05:21 PM
What are these...hills...you speak of? The running joke around here is that you can watch your dog run away from home for days!

So my answer is: I have never engaged my handbrake. I have also never operated a manual vehicle.

Really Not All That Bright
04-11-2012, 06:05 PM
Well, if you are driving an automatic and you aren't parking on a steep incline (probably 99% of the time, if not more), then you don't need to. I think the thread backs that up.
It does nothing of the sort. It backs up the belief that most Americans don't do it, which is indicative of nothing. Most Americans also consume too many fatty foods and salt, too; doesn't mean it's a good idea.

I suppose Rick's data-cum-anecdote sort of proves that it's not necessary, but if you're the sort of person who frequently forgets to disengage your parking brake you shouldn't be driving anyway.

pulykamell
04-11-2012, 06:22 PM
Out of curiosity, what's the purpose of the parking pawl in an automatic, if it's not meant to be used instead of the parking brake in most cases? I understand they can break and all that, I'm just wondering why they bothered to put one in. Why not just park the car in neutral and set the brake?

Emtar KronJonDerSohn
04-11-2012, 06:41 PM
Out of curiosity, what's the purpose of the parking pawl in an automatic, if it's not meant to be used instead of the parking brake in most cases? I understand they can break and all that, I'm just wondering why they bothered to put one in. Why not just park the car in neutral and set the brake?


All vehicles are required to have an emergency brake separate from your service brakes. If your service brakes fail, you can stop yourself with the emergency brake. You cannot stop a vehicle with a parking pawl, it will shear off without necessarily even slowing you down.

I drive a manual and an automatic and a tractor trailer which is an automatic that does not have a parking pawl. I always set the brake when I park without exception.

begbert2
04-11-2012, 06:48 PM
All vehicles are required to have an emergency brake separate from your service brakes. If your service brakes fail, you can stop yourself with the emergency brake. You cannot stop a vehicle with a parking pawl, it will shear off without necessarily even slowing you down.

I drive a manual and an automatic and a tractor trailer which is an automatic that does not have a parking pawl. I always set the brake when I park without exception.I think you misread him - it looked to me like he was saying "They gave me this parking pawl - presumably the thing's there for a reason!" Logically, if the pawl was generally not sufficient to the task of holding your car stopped, putting it there would be a bad idea because it would encourage unsafe practices. But it's there, so logically (well, mostly logically) it should be safe and sufficient in most situations. And thus we don't need to use the emergency brake because we're already covered.

Unless of course you're driving a vehicle that doesn't have a parking pawl - in those cases I think we can all agree you can't rely on it to hold your car stationary.

pulykamell
04-11-2012, 06:53 PM
I think you misread him - it looked to me like he was saying "They gave me this parking pawl - presumably the thing's there for a reason!" Logically, if the pawl was generally not sufficient to the task of holding your car stopped, putting it there would be a bad idea because it would encourage unsafe practices. But it's there, so logically (well, mostly logically) it should be safe and sufficient in most situations. And thus we don't need to use the emergency brake because we're already covered.

Yes, this is what I mean. A manual transmission doesn't have a parking pawl. You set the car in neutral (or leave it in gear) and engage the parking brake. Why does an automatic bother to have the parking pawl? Why not design it just like the manual transmission, so when you park, you just put it in neutral (or gear) and set the parking brake?

davidm
04-11-2012, 07:48 PM
This whole conversation raises a question for me. As I said, I habitually use it regardless, and I'll continue to do so, but I'm wondering if it's really necessary in my current car.

The consensus seems to be that it's not really necessary (but won't hurt) to use it with an automatic transmission unless you're on a steep hill. My current car has an automatic transmission, but it's a continuously variable transmission, So, is it necessary in my car? Does it even have a parking pawl?

aceplace57
04-11-2012, 08:04 PM
I drive an automatic transmission.
I haven't used my parking brake in at least 8 years. Thankfully, I don't park on really steep hills in my daily travels.

Joey P
04-11-2012, 08:11 PM
This whole conversation raises a question for me. As I said, I habitually use it regardless, and I'll continue to do so, but I'm wondering if it's really necessary in my current car.

The consensus seems to be that it's not really necessary (but won't hurt) to use it with an automatic transmission unless you're on a steep hill. My current car has an automatic transmission, but it's a continuously variable transmission, So, is it necessary in my car? Does it even have a parking pawl?

Of course it has one. If the gear selector has a P on it and you can put it in P and it doesn't roll away, it has a parking pawl. If you're on a little bit of an incline and you put your car in park, when you take your foot of the brake and it rolls an inch or so, that's the parking pawl pushing up against one of the teeth in the sprocket slot it landed in. The parking pawl (http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/askville/3138086_26878801_mywrite/parkinggear.jpg) has nothing to do with the style of automatic transmission. In fact, I don't see any mechanical reason there couldn't be one on a manual transmission. It would just take a separate lever to engage it whereas on an automatic transmission it's integrated into the gear selector.

davidm
04-11-2012, 08:45 PM
I get your point about "park" but I'm not sure it has such a thing as a sprocket. As I understand it, there are no physical gears.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuously_variable_transmission

davidm
04-11-2012, 08:58 PM
Okay, it looks like it does have a "parking pawl" except that it's labeled "parking brake pawl". Maybe that just means that it acts like a brake, or maybe it means that the parking brake causes it to engage somehow. I don't know.
It's part # 6 on this diagram.
www.hondapartsunlimited.com/find-parts/Honda/INSIGHT/2010/5DR EX/KACVT/AT STARTING CLUTCH

Joey P
04-11-2012, 09:15 PM
I get your point about "park" but I'm not sure it has such a thing as a sprocket. As I understand it, there are no physical gears.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuously_variable_transmission

Okay, it looks like it does have a "parking pawl" except that it's labeled "parking brake pawl". Maybe that just means that it acts like a brake, or maybe it means that the parking brake causes it to engage somehow. I don't know.
It's part # 6 on this diagram.
www.hondapartsunlimited.com/find-parts/Honda/INSIGHT/2010/5DR EX/KACVT/AT STARTING CLUTCH

Same car I have, neither here nor there however.

What I'm saying is that whether you have a 4 speed automatic, 5 speed automatic, CVT etc and whatever style, internally, of automatic transmission you have, it doesn't matter. The parking mechanism is independent of it. The parking pawl locks into a sprocket on a gear that only works with the parking mechanism.......ooooh, I see where the mix up is. The gear that it locks into isn't one of the gears that has anything to do with driving.
That gear (to the best of my knowledge) is on the end of the transmission's output shaft. It doesn't no what's going on before it. All it knows is that a spinning shaft is coming into it and when the cable/wire/linkage is pulled it has to make that shaft stop spinning.

ETA, if you look at the diagram you linked to, there are two shafts coming out of the transmission. Look at the upper one, on the left end of it you can see a sprocket. I believe that's the sprocket the pawl would lock into.

california jobcase
04-11-2012, 09:16 PM
Corvairs with automatics had no parking pawl. If I remember correctly, neither did some early air-cooled VW automatics. Yep, I'm posting while bored.

Really Not All That Bright
04-12-2012, 10:01 AM
Why does an automatic bother to have the parking pawl? Why not design it just like the manual transmission, so when you park, you just put it in neutral (or gear) and set the parking brake?
Because you don't want the weight of the vehicle resting on the gear teeth if you can help it. In order to incorporate a pawl into a manual transmission you'd have to add a position for the lever, which would make it more difficult to use (not to mention adding the risk of accidentally engaging park instead of the next gear).

madmonk28
04-12-2012, 10:17 AM
I drive a manual so I always use the parking break. When I drive someones automatic, I use it too, but probably out of habit.

Chopper9760
04-12-2012, 11:17 AM
Huh. Never heard of this being a problem and have never experienced it.

I Googled (http://auto.howstuffworks.com/auto-parts/brakes/brake-types/emergency-brakes3.htm) as I realized I'd never read about e-brakes freezing, only heard it.

I always leave it in first. I've heard people say they're worried about being struck while parked, is that the only reason to leave it in neutral?

Really Not All That Bright
04-12-2012, 11:32 AM
Brake. BRAKE. Break is what you car does if you forget to apply the brakes and hit a tree.

KAndre
04-12-2012, 12:28 PM
It's never occurred to me to use the parking/emergency brake; I don't recall it being mentioned in my driver's ed class many, many decades ago and that probably has more to do with being in Houston (one of the flattest places around; I think the official high point in the city is one of the freeway overpasses) and learning nothing but an automatic. We didn't even have an option of learning stick.

Mister Rik
04-12-2012, 01:38 PM
I think (someone correct me if I'm wrong) the foot operated parking brake was pretty much standard in the US years ago, my first two or three cars had it. My more recent cars have all had the hand operated brake.

I think it depends on whether you have bench or bucket seats.

With a bench there's no space between the seats, so the parking brake becomes a foot operated pedal on the far left and the shifter is on the steering wheel.
Yup. My first two cars were 1970s models with bench seats and a foot-operated emergency brake. My last three cars have been '80s and '90s models with bucket seats and the e-brake between them.

I seem to recall that long ago when I was a kid there was a third location -- in the dashboard. It was a handle you would pull out to engage, and to release it you would turn the handle 90 degrees to unlock it and let it slide forward again to the dash. I think maybe my dad's Ford Falcon had an emergency brake like that.
I remember my grandpa's old Willy's Jeep having one of those, as did his tractor.

What are these...hills...you speak of? The running joke around here is that you can watch your dog run away from home for days!
Are you from Texas? I was listening to the Mariners playing the Rangers in Texas last night, and the announcers were making this exact joke.

Anyway, I always set my brake when parking. There's no such thing as "level" parking around here - even apparently-level spots will have some minor incline. When you park, if you don't set the parking brake before taking your foot off the regular brake, you're going to roll just a bit one way or the other. I've discovered that that little bit of roll affects the locking steering wheel (since it's somehow tied into the transmission*) in such a way that when I come back to the car, it can require some effort to get the ignition switch to turn. I have to muscle the steering wheel one way or the other to counteract the "tightening" caused by the roll before I can even turn the key.

*EDIT: Er, actually, I guess it would be the front wheels moving ever-so-slightly during the little roll that would cause the steering wheel to tighten up, not the transmission.

Hermitian
04-12-2012, 01:40 PM
It does nothing of the sort. It backs up the belief that most Americans don't do it, which is indicative of nothing. Most Americans also consume too many fatty foods and salt, too; doesn't mean it's a good idea.

I suppose Rick's data-cum-anecdote sort of proves that it's not necessary, but if you're the sort of person who frequently forgets to disengage your parking brake you shouldn't be driving anyway.

I would say the burden of proof would be on the people who say that the brake is needed. I know that atnecdotes are not data, but apparently millions and millions of Americans don't use the e-brake when they park and they don't have a problem. How many people in here admitted to having their parking prawl break? If I read it right, none.

If anyone wants to take the side that it is absolutely necessary, they are going to have to put up some some darn convincing data.

Deegeea
04-12-2012, 03:58 PM
Every driveway I've had has been sloped. I used to not put on the emergency brake when I parked, and resulted in having to replace transmissions twice. After that I started using it when parking and never had to replace another transmission since.

nudgenudge
04-12-2012, 04:16 PM
I drive a manual, as is usual where I'm from, and not only do I use the handbrake while parking, I also apply it at traffic lights and whenever I come to a full stop on a slope. That's just how I roll, or rather, don't roll.

Girl From Mars
04-12-2012, 04:53 PM
If anyone wants to take the side that it is absolutely necessary, they are going to have to put up some some darn convincing data.

Hard thing to Google, but again seems to be more common outside the US:
Everything for the learner driver (http://www.2pass.co.uk/auto.htm#.T4dKlxBhiSM)
Exeter small automatics (http://www.exetersmallautomatics.co.uk/faqs.asp)
I've also just checked the owner manual for the Mazda 6 car we own, which says To always set the parking brake and make sure the shift lever is in P. (http://www.mazdausa.com/MusaWeb/pdf/manuals/2009_Mazda6_OM.pdf)(Page 150)
A parking pawl prevents the transmission from rotating, and therefore the vehicle from moving, although the vehicle's non-driven roadwheels may still rotate freely. For this reason, it is recommended to use the hand brake (or parking brake) because this actually locks (in most cases) the rear wheels and prevents them from moving. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_transmission)
And it's noted as one of the steps to check when passing your driving test in Australia's Northern Territory (http://www.transport.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/19924/section4.pdf).

Really Not All That Bright
04-12-2012, 05:05 PM
If anyone wants to take the side that it is absolutely necessary, they are going to have to put up some some darn convincing data.
I don't think anyone has said it is "absolutely necessary". Wearing a seatbelt isn't absolutely necessary either. It's still a good idea.

My cite is your owner's manual.

Jennmonkye
04-12-2012, 07:25 PM
I have an automated manual transmission (no clutch pedal) and I always use the parking brake.

Krouget
04-13-2012, 09:41 AM
I learned to drive a manual, but currently drive an automatic, but I would use the handbrake each and every time I parked my car - wouldn't think of not using it, regardless of situation. Is this unusual? Is this a throwback to my manual car days, and not required on an automatic?
Personally, I use it in any car I drive, auto or manual. There is no downside to engaging it, and regular use of it is a good thing, much like other parts of the car.

I have on the other hand seen dozens and dozens (maybe hundreds) of cars that have had the e-brake left on either wearing out the rear brakes prematurely, or causing other issues. This driver created problem is much much more common.
Most modern cars alert the driver if the vehicle is in motion, while the parking brake is engaged. Nonetheless, you're right in identifying the driver as the problem...no two ways around that.

I know that atnecdotes are not data, but apparently millions and millions of Americans don't use the e-brake when they park and they don't have a problem. [...] If anyone wants to take the side that it is absolutely necessary, they are going to have to put up some some darn convincing data.
Millions of American's don't do a lot of things when it comes to their vehicles. They'll drive around on poor tires (under-inflated or worn, for example), which isn't a problem until it becomes a problem...but I wouldn't use indifferent habits and attitudes towards driving, as a counter-point to the idea that regular use of the parking brake is better practice, than not.

In my state, the MVA dictates that we use the parking brake for safe parking and it's also the law in some states, mainly because it reduces risk.

http://www.mva.maryland.gov/resources/dl-002b.pdf (section 3, J)

In other cases with insurance, there can also be liability issues, and in most owners manuals I've read, they advise it. Therefore, the burden of proof isn't on anyone advocating its use... At most, I'd say you can do far worse, so far as habits go, but there is no real basis for not using it, other than simply not wanting to deal with "the hassle".

davidm
04-13-2012, 01:09 PM
Years ago, when I had only been driving for a few years, and before the advent of key fob remotes, I parked an automatic transmission car in a shopping center lot that had a slight down slope. Somehow, when I got out of the car, I managed to leave it in neutral and without the parking brake engaged. I got out of the car, locked it, turned and started to walk away.

Something, maybe a noise noticed by my subconscious or maybe just dumb luck, made me look back as I was walking away. My car was slowly rolling down the slope towards the next row of cars.

I ran back and (remember, no remote) trotted alongside trying to get my key in the slot. I got it in, opened the door, jumped in and slammed on the brakes just in time.

After I reparked it properly, an older couple who had witnessed the event walked up and said that I had turned white. Now, I am about the whitest person you'll ever meet, so for somebody to say that I had noticeably turned white, I must have looked like a bed sheet.

I don't know that this adds much to the discussion, except to say that having multiple restraints may payoff one day if you stupidly forget to use any one of them. Yes, I stupidly neglected to use all of them, but that's not the point.

Martini Enfield
04-16-2012, 05:44 AM
Like GreedySmurf I'm astounded - not sarcastically, either, but actually astounded - that significant numbers of people in the US don't put the handbrake on when parking their car.

As he says, it's drummed into everyone here (well, it was in NZ and the road rules are pretty much the same as they are in Australia) when they're learning to drive. It's as much a part of motor vehicle operation as "Wearing a seatbelt" and "putting petrol in the fuel tank" and "Turning the steering wheel to make the car change directions" and "locking the doors when you get out."

You guys know you can also use the handbrake to make sudden turns*, right?

*Don't try it at home. Or on a public road. Or at all, unless you're on Top Gear. There's almost certainly a law against it wherever you are.

Corcaigh
04-16-2012, 05:56 AM
When I park my automatic I put it in Park and pull the handbrake on. That's what my father used to do, so ...

I can remember an American relation being shocked at how often I used the handbrake (basically everytime I stop, at lights, or a junction, or whatever I take my foot off the foot brake and apply the handbrake- unless there's someone driving up behind me, I'll tap the foot brake so they know I'm stationary). I was told to do this as it saved wear and tear on the foot brake. Also as part of your driving test you are required to stop uphill, then drive on without rolling back at all and is to demonstrate that you know how to use the handbrake.

FairyChatMom
04-16-2012, 07:05 AM
I drive a 5-speed and I always set the parking brake. I've never set it in the truck, which is an automatic, nor in our new Sonata, which is also automatic. However, I notice that the Sonata moves a bit after its parked and you take your foot off the brake. If I drove it all that time, I'd probably set the parking brake, but it'd confuse my husband if I did it now, so I don't.

Lightnin'
04-16-2012, 08:59 AM
Manual transmission, so yes- always. I generally don't leave it in gear, though, unless I'm on a hill.

Mijin
04-16-2012, 09:19 AM
Manual driver, so always handbrake + neutral when parking.

(I also frequently do this if stopped for a while at a red light. It's the only way to rest both your feet in a manual, and also guarantee you won't roll when you pull away.
I don't quite get why most manual drivers just hold the footbrake instead.)

Really Not All That Bright
04-16-2012, 09:39 AM
"Turning the steering wheel to make the car change directions"...
You Kiwis and your newfangled technology. Changing directions in a car. Hmph.

Mister Rik
04-16-2012, 09:49 AM
I was told to do this as it saved wear and tear on the foot brake.
This doesn't make sense. The hand brake engages the same brake pads as the foot brake ó it just engages them "manually" instead of "hydraulically". If you're already stopped, there's no further wear and tear. Unless I'm misunderstanding.

Corcaigh
04-17-2012, 09:17 AM
This doesn't make sense. The hand brake engages the same brake pads as the foot brake ó it just engages them "manually" instead of "hydraulically". If you're already stopped, there's no further wear and tear. Unless I'm misunderstanding.

I'm merely repeating what I was told by a driving instructor, that sitting in traffic with your foot on the brake caused more wear and tear than using the handbreak. I'm not a mechanic, or petrolhead, so I dunno if he was being accurate or not.

Mijin
04-17-2012, 09:29 AM
I wasn't going to reply on this point, because I'm no expert, but since no-one else has, I think the handbrake and footbrake engage the brakes to a different degree.
The footbrake mostly engages the front brakes and engages the rear brakes to a lesser degree, to prevent rear wheel skid.
Whereas the handbrake completely engages the rear brakes but not the front brakes. I'm not sure why this is, but it's the reason why you can perform a "handbrake turn".

Baracus
04-17-2012, 09:51 AM
This doesn't make sense. The hand brake engages the same brake pads as the foot brake ó it just engages them "manually" instead of "hydraulically". If you're already stopped, there's no further wear and tear. Unless I'm misunderstanding.
Most of the time yes, but my CRV actually has a separate little drum brake inside the rear discs that is engaged by the parking brake.

I agree that what the driving instructor said doesn't make much sense to me in either case though. If the car is stopped, where is the wear coming from? The only possible thing I can think of is that the brake lines and seals spend a little additional time under pressure.

Jumpbass
04-17-2012, 10:42 AM
I drive an automatic and always set the parking brake. Just a habit- I don't even think about it.

I will also set it and put it in park when dropping or picking up passengers. That's a habit I learned from driving school busses. Someone clobbers you while dropping passengers, it's less likely they'll get hurt. The passengers, I mean.

When I was a driving instructor, I taught everyone the same routine. It's been a while, so I don't remember if California requires it or not.

Data point: my 2001 Chrysler Town & Country minivan has bucket seats and a foot operated parking brake.

Leo090
05-01-2012, 11:51 AM
I drive an automatic. I occasionally engage the parking brake(emergency brake) while im traveling around 20 mph to make sure it works and to rub off any rust that may have developed from lack of use. also if you do not engage the brake regularly, it can lock up, and/or it can break and then not work in an emergency when you really need it. Too late

I use the parking brake when on a incline because otherwise it makes getting out of park a little more difficult and I read that switching to park and then allowing the car to roll a little as it settles in its parked position can wear at the transmission.

But for a manual, I dont know why you would ever NOT use the parking brake. Even on a flat surface, do you want someone rolling your car away???? Or better yet if your parked car gets hit by another car would u want it rolling into the car in front or into the street and receive more damage????

Use your brains people, and your parking brake.