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  #1  
Old 04-10-2012, 05:43 PM
Girl From Mars Girl From Mars is offline
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Do you use your car's parking/emergency brake daily?

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?
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  #2  
Old 04-10-2012, 05:52 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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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.

Last edited by begbert2; 04-10-2012 at 05:53 PM..
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  #3  
Old 04-10-2012, 05:59 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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I use the parking brake every time I park, for reasons I gave in this old thread on parking brakes.
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  #4  
Old 04-10-2012, 06:09 PM
Kalypso Kalypso is offline
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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.
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  #5  
Old 04-10-2012, 06:11 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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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.
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  #6  
Old 04-10-2012, 06:15 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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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.

Last edited by Joey P; 04-10-2012 at 06:17 PM..
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  #7  
Old 04-10-2012, 06:15 PM
Christopher Robin Davies Christopher Robin Davies is offline
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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.

Last edited by Christopher Robin Davies; 04-10-2012 at 06:16 PM..
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  #8  
Old 04-10-2012, 06:17 PM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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using the parking/hand brake periodically can adjust your rear brake mechanism.
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Old 04-10-2012, 06:18 PM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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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.
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  #10  
Old 04-10-2012, 06:20 PM
Pork Rind Pork Rind is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
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.

Last edited by Pork Rind; 04-10-2012 at 06:21 PM..
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  #11  
Old 04-10-2012, 06:22 PM
Christopher Robin Davies Christopher Robin Davies is offline
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Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
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.
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  #12  
Old 04-10-2012, 06:23 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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Originally Posted by Pork Rind View Post
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.
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  #13  
Old 04-10-2012, 06:27 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pork Rind View Post
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).

Last edited by Joey P; 04-10-2012 at 06:29 PM..
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  #14  
Old 04-10-2012, 07:23 PM
Al Bundy Al Bundy is offline
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Rome did not rust in one day

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.
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  #15  
Old 04-10-2012, 07:37 PM
pullin pullin is offline
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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).
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  #16  
Old 04-10-2012, 07:44 PM
Rhiannon8404 Rhiannon8404 is offline
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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.
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  #17  
Old 04-10-2012, 07:54 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is offline
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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!

Last edited by Rachellelogram; 04-10-2012 at 07:55 PM..
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  #18  
Old 04-10-2012, 08:02 PM
GreedySmurf GreedySmurf is offline
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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

Last edited by GreedySmurf; 04-10-2012 at 08:04 PM..
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  #19  
Old 04-10-2012, 08:15 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreedySmurf View Post
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.
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  #20  
Old 04-10-2012, 08:16 PM
amarinth amarinth is offline
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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.
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  #21  
Old 04-10-2012, 08:21 PM
davidm davidm is offline
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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.
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:28 PM
GreedySmurf GreedySmurf is offline
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Originally Posted by jz78817 View Post
Yeah, whatever. I don't go around acting all amazed that the verb "root" has a profane meaning in Australia.
Sorry if I offended.

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.

Last edited by GreedySmurf; 04-10-2012 at 08:29 PM..
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  #23  
Old 04-10-2012, 08:34 PM
Sister Vigilante Sister Vigilante is offline
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Originally Posted by davidm View Post
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.
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  #24  
Old 04-10-2012, 08:58 PM
jabiru jabiru is offline
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It wouldn't occur to me not to put on the handbrake. It's as automatic to me as turning off the ignition.
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  #25  
Old 04-10-2012, 09:02 PM
hogarth hogarth is offline
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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.
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  #26  
Old 04-10-2012, 09:02 PM
chizzuk chizzuk is online now
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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.
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  #27  
Old 04-10-2012, 09:03 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Question to all of you Australians calling it the "handbrake": do you not have cars in Australia with pedal-operated parking brakes?
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  #28  
Old 04-10-2012, 10:02 PM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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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.
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  #29  
Old 04-10-2012, 10:26 PM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
using the parking/hand brake periodically can adjust your rear brake mechanism.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Robin Davies View Post
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.
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  #30  
Old 04-10-2012, 10:28 PM
Marconi N. Cheese Marconi N. Cheese is offline
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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.
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  #31  
Old 04-10-2012, 10:34 PM
Rick Rick is offline
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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.
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  #32  
Old 04-10-2012, 10:35 PM
PandaBear77 PandaBear77 is offline
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I'll use mine if parking on a hill, otherwise no.
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  #33  
Old 04-10-2012, 10:53 PM
Suburban Plankton Suburban Plankton is offline
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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.
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  #34  
Old 04-10-2012, 11:05 PM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
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.
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  #35  
Old 04-10-2012, 11:14 PM
california jobcase california jobcase is offline
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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.
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  #36  
Old 04-10-2012, 11:16 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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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.
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Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
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.

Last edited by Really Not All That Bright; 04-10-2012 at 11:17 PM..
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  #37  
Old 04-10-2012, 11:56 PM
Eliahna Eliahna is online now
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Originally Posted by GreedySmurf View Post
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.
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  #38  
Old 04-11-2012, 12:29 AM
Flyer Flyer is offline
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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.
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  #39  
Old 04-11-2012, 12:30 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
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?
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:12 AM
GreedySmurf GreedySmurf is offline
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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
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.
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:25 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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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.
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  #42  
Old 04-11-2012, 01:33 AM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
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.
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:37 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Originally Posted by GreedySmurf View Post
Sorry if I offended.

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.
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:51 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
...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.
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  #45  
Old 04-11-2012, 02:35 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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"Normal" depends on where you live.
Woosh.
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  #46  
Old 04-11-2012, 04:19 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
Woosh.
No woosh. I responded to that in order to explain the differences in terminology.
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  #47  
Old 04-11-2012, 04:57 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Yes, but the "speak normal" was a joke and the foot brake thing had already been mentioned.
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  #48  
Old 04-11-2012, 05:26 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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Location: Near Philadelphia PA, USA
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I understood it was a joke. That's why I said "no woosh".

Last edited by davidm; 04-11-2012 at 05:27 AM..
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  #49  
Old 04-11-2012, 05:47 AM
Philster Philster is offline
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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.

.

Last edited by Philster; 04-11-2012 at 05:48 AM..
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  #50  
Old 04-11-2012, 06:39 AM
tumbleddown tumbleddown is offline
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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.
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