Do You Ever Use the Emergency Brakes on Your Car?

I think you’ve got it backwards–you want it in first or possibly reverse, depending on which has the higher gear ratio and possibly whether you’re on a hill. (You also want to remember to take it out of gear when you first take your foot off the clutch starting it up… :smack:)

I’ve always had the habit, manual or auto. I did forget once recently, and had a minor freak-out when the car started drifting away after I took it out of gear… :eek:

Why would you do that? :confused: Manual cars are best left in reverse on a hill if facing downwards and in first gear otherwise – and yes, hit the parking break either way.

I always use the parking brake when I park. It’s a good habit to be in, even when it’s not necessary.

I had never heard them called emergency brakes until the previous thread about them in this board, which, iirc, wasn’t very long ago.

I can’t imagine why one would ever not set the parking brake. Is there ever a reason you would want your car to start moving when you’re not in it?

OK, people, it’s brake, not break. Anyway, on cars with rear drum brakes, the parking brake engages one of the rear drum shoes. On rear disc brakes there are two types of parking brakes. One kind has an auxiliary drum brake setup inside the rear rotor. The other engages the rear disc brake.

On many cars with rear drum brakes, the shoes are automatically adjusted whenever the vehicle is stopped after reversing and/or when the parking brake is engaged. Some people drive with a minimum of reversing because of where they drive, park, etc. and never use their parking brakes. These people have long lasting rear brakes since they aren’t really fully working and quick-wearing front pads.

Anyway, it’s a particularly good idea to use the parking brake regularly to keep rear drum brakes adjusted. It also is good because it keeps the moving parts freely operating so they won’t be rusted stuck when they are really needed.

Always. When I was a kid some guy didn’t set his in a parking lot with a slope. I was about to get out of the left rear door when my mother told me to get out the right. When I was closing that door, this car slammed into the left rear door of our car. So I almost got killed by someone not setting his brake.


Whenever I park, or am in an exceptionally long drive-thru line and want to give my foot a rest.

It’s a parking brake, and I use it every time I park. It’s one of those things that should be a habit, because if you don’t make it a habit, you might forget when it’s really necessary.

I use it rarely, and only in the summer. In the northern tier states, you really shouldn’t use it in the winter, as it can freeze if your brakes have gotten wet.

I don’t set mine because I have an automatic. I have never had a car slide out of Park. Almost everywhere I park is level, though. I rarely, if ever, have to park on an incline, but if I did, I would set the parking brake. But under normal circumstances, I don’t.

Always, no matter what kind of car. 45 years worth of driving has taught me that!! Unplanned events can happen, and your parking brake is your backup
If your hydraulic brake lines fail when driving, (leaks or broken) the manual cable pulling upon your rear brakes can safely stop your car, given enough time and…if you can remember where it is!!! :eek: (foot or center console depending on vehicle!!)

Parking brakes and emergency brakes are synonymous. Your parking/emergency brake absolutely 100% should be capable of stopping your car from speed in an emergency. Granted it won’t stop in nearly as short of a distance as your service brakes, and you very likely will damage your parking/emergency brake if you use it to stop from high speed, but the whole point of having a secondary redundant braking system is to stop your car in the event that your service brakes become inoperable. If your parking/emergency brake will not stop your car you really should have it repaired. You’re risking lives (not just your own) by driving with a brake system defect of any kind.

I drive a manual so I set my brake every time I park. I also set it when I drive an automatic out of habit.

That’s a possibility, but if you use your parking brake regularly it’s not much of a problem. I’ve never had the problem in 25+ years of driving in wet and cold northern tier states.

My ex-wife once “used” (i.e. forgot to disengage) the parking brake for the whole trip to the mall and back (about 40 miles round trip):smack: She complained that the car didn’t seem to have much power. And I’m pretty sure there is a light on the dash that advises you when the brake is on.:rolleyes:
Didn’t give me a lot of confidence in its value as a stopping mechanism.

I always used it. I’ve mostly owned cars with manual transmissions, so I’ve gotten used to it. I park with the brake on and the transmission in first gear.

I remember when cars (or at least American cars) had a front bench seat and a foot-operated parking brake, with a separate release that was a handle under the dashboard. Pull on it and the brake would disengage. I don’t really care where the brake is located, but I do miss those bench seats – much more comfortable (at least for me).

I also remember when American cars had the bright headlight switch located on the floor. There was a very small foot-operated switch on the left side of the driver’s footwell.

I haven’t seen a car with anything other than a hand-operated parking brake and a bright switch on a stalk on the steering column in years. I miss the old layout. . .

Many U.S. cars had a third type of parking brake actuator- a handle that pulled straight out from under the dashboard. You twisted it a bit to make it retract and release the brake.

Handbrake? Every time.

depends on the mechanism but there can be different levels of application.

This is backwards. If the brake slips you want the engine to turn in its normal direction of rotation. There are some cars that if the engine is turned backwards via gravity when you next go to start it, the timing belt will skip and bend valves. So facing downhill, 1st gear. Facing uphill, reverse

I had some students come to class once telling me they had a tow in the day before with 2 complaints.

  1. Car had very low power
  2. Both rear tires had flats.

Yup you guessed it, customer drove with the ebrake on. they drug the rear tires until they wore a hole in them. They totally missed the large red light on the dash that said BRAKE