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  #1  
Old 12-31-2009, 11:28 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Hand brake vs. pedal 'parking brake'

Most of the cars I've owned or driven have had a hand brake operated by a 'Johnson bar'-type lever. At least one hat a T-handle under the dash. My Prius, and the T-bird dad had, has a foot pedal. I've been in cars where the brake is actuated by pressing down on the pedal and it is release by stepping on it again, and in cars where the brake is released by pulling a separate handle.

Johnson bars seem quicker, easier, more accurate, and safer to employ. Why are there still pedals?
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  #2  
Old 12-31-2009, 11:34 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Mercedes uses a foot operate/handle release parking brake because that's what they've always done. Pain in the ass for a hill start in a manual.
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  #3  
Old 12-31-2009, 11:36 AM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
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Foot operation takes advantage of the strength of the leg, and clears out the center area for bench type seating.

Hand operated works better for manual transmissions. A fourth pedal would compete for floor space and hand operation is useful for starting out on steep hills. A hand released foot applied parking brake can work, but a "push again to release" type is only suitable for automatic transmission vehicles.
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  #4  
Old 12-31-2009, 11:36 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Yes, hand brakes are very useful for starting up a hill in a car equipped with a standard transmission.
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  #5  
Old 12-31-2009, 11:44 AM
Critical1 Critical1 is offline
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Also the hand brake is a perfectly serviceable emergency brake should your hydraulic brakes fail. the foot brakes, not so much. while both will do the job of slowing the car the foot brake offers a serious lack of control while the hand brake is just as easy to control as the cars normal brakes. To much hand brake? ease off a bit because you are holding the button down you can do this. to much foot pedal? either reach under the dash and pull the release lever while you are trying to steer the car or push even harder to make it release...

yeah the push to set/push to release pedals I call death brakes. cause the one thing they are not is an emergency brake.
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  #6  
Old 12-31-2009, 11:53 AM
running coach running coach is online now
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Our minivan has the foot set/release and it's a problem with my weak leg being on the left. I have to cross over with the right as I have neither the strength or control to use the left.
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  #7  
Old 12-31-2009, 01:15 PM
GreasyJack GreasyJack is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevbo View Post
Hand operated works better for manual transmissions. A fourth pedal would compete for floor space and hand operation is useful for starting out on steep hills. A hand released foot applied parking brake can work, but a "push again to release" type is only suitable for automatic transmission vehicles.
On my '76 Chevy truck I've got five foot controls. It's a manual with the pedal parking brake and a floor dimmer. Granted it's a big truck with lots of space, but this setup works well enough (I kind of like it).

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Also the hand brake is a perfectly serviceable emergency brake should your hydraulic brakes fail. the foot brakes, not so much
Have you ever actually tried to stop your vehicle from any great speed with your parking brake? Unless you're fortunate enough to have your brakes fail while traveling at less than 25mph, the procedure is apply the brake as hard as you can and hope it stops you eventually. Fortunately, with modern dual-circuit braking systems, total brake failure is very unlikely and in the vast majority of partial brake failures you are much better off using the regular brake pedal.
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  #8  
Old 12-31-2009, 01:17 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Originally Posted by Critical1 View Post
Also the hand brake is a perfectly serviceable emergency brake should your hydraulic brakes fail.
Good luck with that.
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  #9  
Old 12-31-2009, 02:08 PM
LouisB LouisB is offline
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Using the lower gears will slow you down; forcing the shift lever into reverse is a last ditch effort or so I'm told; I've never done it or seen it done. Assuming one can do that, it will cost you a transmission and maybe an engine but it might save your life. I'm thinking here of automatic transmissions; I really doubt that a stick shift could be forced into reverse; I think the damage that would result would defeat the purpose for doing it.
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  #10  
Old 12-31-2009, 02:43 PM
Dog80 Dog80 is online now
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The Citroen DS had a pedal type parking brake and there was a good reason for that. The car had a single hydraulic circuit that operated the brakes, suspension and steering assist. If one of the trillion tubes and hoses developed a leak while on the road, then you would lose brakes suspension and steering in short order.

The parking brake is entirely mechanical and acts on the front wheels using a separate set of smaller pads. If you lose pressure in the main brakes you can use the parking brake to stop the car. Also you can lock the release latch in the open position so the parking brake pedal won't stay depressed if released, like a normal brake pedal.

I once had the misfortune of losing pressure in my DS. When that happens first the big red stop light in the dashboard turns on, detail here (there's also a button to test the light, this shows how important its proper function is). When the light turns on you have aproximately 10-20 seconds to bring the car to a stop using the normal brakes. After that, you lose steering assist so the steering wheel becomes very heavy, the suspension drops to the bump stops and the brake pedal doesn't work at all. If you somehow miss that time window then your only way to bring the car to a stop is with the parking brake.

That day I actually managed to drive the car for 70 kilometers through a winding country back road until I came back home.
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  #11  
Old 12-31-2009, 03:43 PM
Declan Declan is online now
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Builder of said devices checking in

Roughly depends on the vehicle design. The car companies design the cockpit of the car and everything flows from there. The park brakes (push pedal or push pedal with release cable) are heavier than the console mounted counter parts and may add up to 15 pounds of essentially dead weight.

With the big sedans, that amount of weight is not going to make that much of a difference, but with the smaller econoboxes, the fuel economy is directly related to both engine/transmission and weight of vehicle. Add to that a smaller cockpit that may already have three pedals with the accel, brake and clutch, adding a fourth pedal can get tight.

Declan
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  #12  
Old 12-31-2009, 07:11 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Originally Posted by Critical1 View Post
Also the hand brake is a perfectly serviceable emergency brake should your hydraulic brakes fail.
Good luck with that. Try it sometime as an experiment. You might notice some slowing down at speed but probably not much. If you have several empty street blocks at your disposal, you might be able to minimize the damage before you hit something. I have never had a vehicle with an emergency brake that actually stops the vehicle in any reasonable time-frame and I have tested it over and over.
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  #13  
Old 12-31-2009, 09:38 PM
racer72 racer72 is offline
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Locking up the parking brake is a great way to do a 180 degree turn in a very short amount of space. When the rear brakes lock up, the rear of the car will immediately swap ends with the front. As soon as the car is pointed the opposite direction, slam on the brakes to stop the car, release the parking brake then hit the gas. Learned to do this at the Bob Bondurant driving school. We were told to use the parking/emergency brake for slow speed stops only.
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  #14  
Old 12-31-2009, 11:39 PM
Ike Witt Ike Witt is offline
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I just re-read The Big Sleep and there is reference made to a hand throttle. Did cars in, I guess, the 1930's have hand throttles?

Last edited by Ike Witt; 12-31-2009 at 11:40 PM.. Reason: punctuation
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  #15  
Old 12-31-2009, 11:42 PM
mhendo mhendo is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Mercedes uses a foot operate/handle release parking brake because that's what they've always done. Pain in the ass for a hill start in a manual.
What percentage of Mercedes Benz car sales are manuals, do you think? Maybe 1/100th of 1 percent? Do they even offer a manual transmission on most of their models?

Last edited by mhendo; 12-31-2009 at 11:43 PM..
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  #16  
Old 01-01-2010, 01:54 AM
goldmund goldmund is offline
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Originally Posted by mhendo View Post
What percentage of Mercedes Benz car sales are manuals, do you think? Maybe 1/100th of 1 percent? Do they even offer a manual transmission on most of their models?
I'd wager most of them are available in manual. It's extremely common outside the USA.
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  #17  
Old 01-01-2010, 02:14 AM
EvilTOJ EvilTOJ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ike Witt View Post
I just re-read The Big Sleep and there is reference made to a hand throttle. Did cars in, I guess, the 1930's have hand throttles?
Ah, a 1930's style hand throttle. Sorry, I got nothing.

I know that the name 'emergency brake' is a misnomer, it doesn't brake at all. There's been many times I've left the house with the parking brake still pushed down. The van acts a bit sluggish but I've driven many blocks that way until I figure it out. The way real brakes are designed, when it comes to a war between the gas and the brake, the brake is always supposed to win.
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  #18  
Old 01-01-2010, 03:05 AM
mhendo mhendo is online now
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Originally Posted by teletype View Post
I'd wager most of them are available in manual. It's extremely common outside the USA.
i'm aware that the US is unusual in its focus on automatic transmissions, but i was also under the impression that, even in Europe, most Mercedes models are sold mainly as automatics.

For example the current S-class range is offered only with various automatic transmissions. In the latest E-class range, only the bottom-end models (E200, E220, E250) are available with a manual transmission, even in Europe. The SL class of convertibles is all auto.

Smaller sedans and sports convertibles like the C class and SLK class are listed as having manual transmissions as standard, but the auto transmission is generally a no-cost option, and i'd be willing to bet that, even in Europe, the vast majority of Mercs sold are automatics.
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  #19  
Old 01-01-2010, 04:53 AM
Myglaren Myglaren is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ike Witt View Post
I just re-read The Big Sleep and there is reference made to a hand throttle. Did cars in, I guess, the 1930's have hand throttles?
I have driven a 1950's Volvo with a hand throttle. Brilliant
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  #20  
Old 01-01-2010, 05:44 AM
kferr kferr is offline
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Originally Posted by mhendo View Post
... and i'd be willing to bet that, even in Europe, the vast majority of Mercs sold are automatics.
You're not wrong. I used Auto Trader to look up all the used Mercs within 20 miles of where I live in southern England. Of 607 Mercs (of all classes) available 81 are listed as manual. But most of the automatics will be 5 speed Tiptronic-style gearboxes and not the 3 speed torque converter slushboxes available in most American cars.

On the subject of handbrakes Racer72 got it right. Take a front wheel drive car with a manual transmission and handbrake out in the snow for a play. Handbrake turns are a hoot!
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  #21  
Old 01-01-2010, 06:03 AM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
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Originally Posted by kferr View Post
On the subject of handbrakes Racer72 got it right. Take a front wheel drive car with a manual transmission and handbrake out in the snow for a play. Handbrake turns are a hoot!
Yes, I was wondering about this, because I can remember friends of mine being able to do a "handbrake" at seemingly high speeds and in a short stopping distance.

I'll admit I was usually clinging to my seat in fear, and not paying much attention to the speeds and technique involved, so, is there an optimum speed the vehicle should be travelling at?
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  #22  
Old 01-01-2010, 07:28 AM
kferr kferr is offline
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I would just mess about with it at low (less than 30mph) speeds. I'd start a turn and do a quick pull/release of the handbrake to get the back wheels to lock momentarily and start the back end sliding. You then steer into it and apply power make a nice tight corner. I think rally drivers use this technique for hairpin corners.
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  #23  
Old 01-01-2010, 07:38 AM
kferr kferr is offline
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Here's a good explanation( youtube) of a handbrake turn.
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Old 01-01-2010, 09:58 AM
asterion asterion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Mercedes uses a foot operate/handle release parking brake because that's what they've always done. Pain in the ass for a hill start in a manual.
My father had a 1986 Isuzu Trooper II. Manual with a foot operated parking brake. I took it out one day to practice hill starts and simply could not figure out the coordination required to do a tough hill start requiring the parking brake. I knew how to do it in my even older Volvo with a hand brake and wanted to see if I could do it with a pedal. Between the pedal brake, the long throw on the gear-shift, and the general unfamiliarity of the vehicle, I gave up in about ten minutes.
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  #25  
Old 01-01-2010, 11:34 AM
Gbro Gbro is offline
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Quote:
Ike Witt

I just re-read The Big Sleep and there is reference made to a hand throttle. Did cars in, I guess, the 1930's have hand throttles?
Model A's have a hand throttle on the right side of the steering column and the timing advance (spark) on the left side.
I do not think of them as 1st generation cruse control, but I have used it a couple of times to allow repositioning of my right leg in a coop that wasn't made for GallouŽts

Quote:
racer72
Locking up the parking brake is a great way to do a 180 degree turn in a very short amount of space. When the rear brakes lock up, the rear of the car will immediately swap ends with the front.
Quote:
We were told to use the parking/emergency brake for slow speed stops only
I would put a dollar on those being some hi performance rear wheel brakes. The ordinary parking brake will spin a vehicle around on ice but not so very well on pavement.

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asterion
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Mercedes uses a foot operate/handle release parking brake because that's what they've always done. Pain in the ass for a hill start in a manual.
My father had a 1986 Isuzu Trooper II. Manual with a foot operated parking brake. I took it out one day to practice hill starts and simply could not figure out the coordination required to do a tough hill start requiring the parking brake. I knew how to do it in my even older Volvo with a hand brake and wanted to see if I could do it with a pedal. Between the pedal brake, the long throw on the gear-shift, and the general unfamiliarity of the vehicle, I gave up in about ten minutes.
I have to ask what would require one to need the parking brake for a hill start?
My procedure is, apply service brake, release parking brake, depress clutch, engage 1st. gear, (if very steep use low (L) if so equipped) release clutch enough to hold vehicle's position while transferring foot to accelerator.
Granted a hand operated center mount parking brake lever that Johnny L.A. calls a "Johnson Bar" could be used in a hill start, but that would be a unnecessary practice that would degrade the skill necessary to drive the proper way IMHO

Quote:
Johnny L.A.
Hand brake vs. pedal 'parking brake'
Most of the cars I've owned or driven have had a hand brake operated by a 'Johnson bar'-type lever.
A Johnson Bar is a "Forward-Reverse" lever found on old bull dozers,fork lifts and other off road equipment and probably first was used on steam locomotives.
But then anything one can wrap a hand around and is attached at one point can be now called a "Johnson Bar" Probably where the slang term of Johnson came to ...............
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  #26  
Old 01-01-2010, 12:11 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gbro View Post
A Johnson Bar is a "Forward-Reverse" lever found on old bull dozers,fork lifts and other off road equipment and probably first was used on steam locomotives.
But then anything one can wrap a hand around and is attached at one point can be now called a "Johnson Bar" Probably where the slang term of Johnson came to ...............
It's also the term used for the flap lever on some airplanes. Like many hand brakes, it resides between the seats. I don't know the etymology.
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  #27  
Old 01-01-2010, 12:12 PM
qazwart qazwart is offline
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The parking brake use to be called an emergency brake. When cars started using pneumatic brakes which were easier to press down, car manufactures had a mechanical emergency brake.

In the United States where cars were mainly automatic, this became a foot pedal. This was preferred because your legs are usually strong enough to apply the brakes, but most people couldn't use a hand brake without using both hands. That could present a bit of a problem if you were applying the emergency brakes while attempting to steer the car.

In the rest of the world, the emergency brake never evolved to a foot pedal because most drivers found a hand brake useful for staring a manual transmission on a hill.

Another reason why the U.S. may have gone with the foot pedal: U.S cars had bench seats in the front. That made making out a lot easier, but it did cause problems with where to put a hand brake lever. Once cars started being built with bucket seats, you started to see handbrakes in the U.S.

I don't think that many U.S. cars switched to handbrakes because they're better, but because they looked neat. Sports cars had handbrakes, so if you put a handbrake in your car, it must be a sporty car! This is the same reason why the 1980 Buick Skylark came with a hood ornament. One look and you knew you were looking at a great luxury car and not an overpriced Chevrolet Citation.
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