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?

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.

I use the parking brake every time I park, for reasons I gave in this old thread on parking brakes.

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.

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.

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.

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.

using the parking/hand brake periodically can adjust your rear brake mechanism.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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).

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.

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!

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 :slight_smile:

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

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.