Do You Ever Use the Emergency Brakes on Your Car?

I think I have only used them on cars with a manual transmission–which I haven’t had for many years.

Emergency brake is something of a misnomer; it’s been decades since most cars’ secondary brakes were capable of stopping the vehicle from any significant speed. They tend to actuate a very small puck caliper or pad, and even if they actuate the primary brakes (almost always on the rear), they exert only a fraction of the force of the mains.

If you mean parking brakes and setting them to hold the car while parked, yes. I use them all the time as a backup to “locking up” the automatic transmission. It’s wise to park, set the brake firmly, and then put the vehicle in Park; that keeps the weight of the vehicle from rolling onto the park pawl within the transmission and making it hard to shift back out of Park. Under some conditions, putting the tranny in park and then allowing the vehicle to roll hard against the lock can break the park pawl, leaving the transmission jammed. (Very rare, but it does happen and doing it repeatedly can cause wear to the park components.)

Always in manual cars, with the gearshift left in 4th or 5th.

I always use it for parking, of course, and occasionally for slowing down just to convince myself that I can actually use the emergency brakes as, you know, emergency brakes.

Question: Are the emergency brakes a completely separate system from the regular brakes? If my brakes ever fail, can I still generally count on the emergency brakes?

I have a stick shift car, but I don’t need to use the emergency brakes (AKA hand brakes) on hills. My car has some device called a “hill-holder” that prevents the car from rolling backward when I stop on a hill (facing up-hill only – it doesn’t work facing downhill). I can take my foot off the brake pedal but the brakes still don’t let go, until I also take my other foot off the clutch.

I drive a manual, so yeah, everytime I park. When I was younger and poorer, it wouldn’t be unkown for me to drive a car that needed brake work that I couldn’t afford and I’d use the handbrake to supplement the floor brake while driving.

For parking, and only on hills. I don’t use them every time I park.

My car doesn’t have “emergency brakes” but I do use the parking brake when, you know, parking.

I know at least on my 1995 Ford F-150, the parking brake just seems to be a cable to goes to one rear wheel. Not sure what it is on modern cars.

About twice a year, for parking on hills.

Every since I had a car with automatic transmission decide to roll backwards down the driveway and into traffic on it’s own I’ve used the parking break every time I park. This is also influenced by the fact that I only drop manual transmission cars for 20 years so it’s an ingrained habit.

If you’re looking for more data there were a lot of replies to this thread last year: Parking Break Use Thread

they are mechanical. they might engage the rear wheel brakes mechanically instead of hydraulically.

Handbrake emergency brakes are, of course, essential for a good bootleg turn. I remember an LJK Setright story in which he committed to a handbrake turn, yanked the lever… and only then remembered that in this obscure model of British car, the emergency brakes were in front.

We have a manual and an automatic. I use the parking brake every time I park either car.

Heh. I had that happen to me, too, though not into traffic, rather a neighbor’s lawn. It was, of course, my fault as I had somehow in my excitement to see my girlfriend at the time forgotten to put the car in “P” and my 1985 Chevette apparently allowed me to remove the keys anyway. Quite a funny scene as I run up to her door, ring the door bell, look back and am utterly confused by the disappearance of my car. Took me about a good 10 seconds or so to figure out what happened, as I didn’t see the car down the hill in the neighbor’s front yard on first glance.

Anyhow, I drive a manual, I always use the parking brake and, in addition, will leave the car in gear on a hill. For an automatic, I sometimes engage the brake, sometimes not, but always on a hill.

Always when I park. It may not be necessary, but it’s better to be in the habit, just like taking the keys and making sure I have them before I lock the doors.

Always, when taking the car ferry.

I always set the parking brake. It’s a habit I’ve deliberately cultivated. I figure it costs nothing to do it and not need it, whereas it may cost a lot to need it and forget it.

What are “emergency brakes” as opposed to parking brakes? If you mean have I used parking brakes as an emergency, maybe once, two times – other than that, no, never. And that was mainly for ‘fun’ as in doing donuts.

Parking brakes, OTOH, I use all the time…just a habit to park the car put it in “park” and hit my parking brakes.

Until last November (2012), I had never owned a vehicle with an automatic transmission. For the 22 years prior to that, all my cars were manual. I always parked in 1st gear and used the parking brake.

I drive a 2012 Mazda CX-9 Crossover/SUV now. In addition to being my first automatic, it is also the first car I’ve had a with a parking brake applied by a foot pedal. In the past it was second nature to put the car in 1st and pull the hand brake. But the only time I’ve used the parking brake on my CX-9 is when I’ve parked on an incline. There are few things more cringe-inducing than that loud “THUD” forcing an automatic out of PARK when it’s parking on an incline without the parking brake.

BTW, in snow/ice/wet I’ve used ABS a lot – is that what you mean by emergency breaks?

I always use the parking brakes. I used to drive school busses, and they taught us to put the transmission in neutral (or park) and put on the parking brake when letting off passengers. I still do that. Apparently, it helps in case someone hits you while loading or unloading passengers.