Hand Break at speed

What would be the effect of putting a car’s hand break on heard whilst the car is moving?
At 30mph, at 60mph, whilst turning a corner?

Fishtailing, fishtailing, fishtailing and probably ending up in oncoming traffic.

Probably a spinnout. If you pull the handbreak at any kind of speed it’s pretty easy to lock the wheels.

If done correctly, a nice drift.

If done incorrectly, some time in the hospital. :smiley:

I used to wonder what it might do. And if I might need to do it if the driver had a heart attack and I was the passanger. Also I wondered if it could be used if someone tries to kidnap you in a car.
So there is no safety feature against doing this, or physical difficulty in doing it (unlike changing straight down to first which is near impossible at high speed).

Well, it’s not THAT easy to lock your rear tires. I’ve pulled my hand brake several times (in the snow in a parking lot and on a track just to see what would happen). It requires a lot of force. If you HAVE to slow down the car from the passenger seat, it’s better than screaming.

You can double clutch into first at any speed as long as it’s not beyond your red line. I’ve done it coming up to a light at 50 km/h. The driver would have to be pretty decent though.

I’ve done it many times on several cars and up to hiway speeds and the cable brake is nowhere as effective as the hydrolic brake. I was told that using the handbrake to slow yourself did not cause the typical nose dive when slowing down when a cop is spotted. The braking force was alway minor and the only time I fishtailed was when snow was on the ground and that was minor and a low speeds.

I lost my power brakes once on the DC beltway (cracked check valve on the vacuum booster) and managed to use the parking brake to slow down without any ill effects. Of course, I modulated it, rather than just grabbing for all I was worth.


It’s handbrake, not hand break. I was wondering how you’d broken your hand at high speed.

I was starting to wonder if I had the right break/brake. Sorry it wasn’t a story about putting my arm out the window and trying to grab a lightpost.

Lots of assumption in these answers that may not prove to be true in real life.
If you apply the parking brake (brake not break) the rear wheels will slow and if the brake is applied with enough force, lock. The if the rear wheels are just slowed, then braking will occur as if you had used the foot brake, however stopping distances will be much greater. If the parking brake is applied with enough force to lock the rear wheels then they will slide in the same direction in which they were traveling, at the point the slide started. So if you are traveling in a straight line, the rear wheels will continue in a straight line.* If you are going around a corner then and only then will the rear wheels swing wide and the car will oversteer. if you are in the driver’s seat and know how to drive an oversteer, then this presents no problem. If you are in the passenger’s seat or have no clue about what to do when a car oversteers (or you don’t know what oversteer means :smiley: ) they, most likely, you are in for a very interesting ride. :eek:

Here is a suggestion, go out on a lonely road (no body behind you since your brake lights won’t work) and apply the parking brake @ 30 mph
*assuming of course that the parking brake on both sides of your car function in a similar manner. In other words you did not break your brake on one side. :wink:

Aren’t most parking brakes only on one side of the car? Also, most are (were?) an extra drum brake on cars with rear disc brakes because drums were better at holding the “on” postion for long periods of time.

Every car I have worked on for the last 35 years (or so) the parking /emergency brake acted on both rear wheels. I seem to recall a truck or something where the parking brake acted on the driveshaft, which while only being one brake acted on both (sort of anyway).
Cars with rear disc brakes may either have a small shoe type parking / emergency brake built into the rotor hat (Volvo did this for years), or have a seperate e-brake caliper operated by cable (Jaguar), or a very popular method having the e-brake cable operate a screw inside the caliper that forces the normal rear pads against the rear rotors.
As far as which is best, who knows, the screw in the caliper is the least expensive, the seperate brake shoe is more complex. The seperate caliper is probably the most expensive, and least effective (handbrake pads for a Jag are tiny).

None of you have ever heard the term “bootlegger turn?” That’s when you make an abrupt turn by using the hand brake to break the traction of the rear wheels and spin the car around faster. If you get it right you can elude the G-men and revenuers. Works best with Foggy Mountain Breakdown on the CD player.

I’m the handbrake expert :smiley:

-First of all make sure that the handbrake acts on the REAR wheels. While that is true for most cars today, some older Japanese cars and Citroens (and some others) have the handbrake acting on the front wheels.

-Then, in order to lock the rear wheels, you don’t really have to pull the handbrake very strongly, but you have to do it with a sharp hand motion. If you pull it gradually, it will need much more force to lock the wheels.

-Braking a car with just the handbrake is a tough thing. It will take a long time for the car to stop completely and in will overheat the rear brakes. (Normally, due to weight transfer, most of the braking is done by the front brakes)

-To do a handbrake (180) turn, have the car going at about 30-35 km/h in first gear. Then turn a little but sharply the steering wheel and just when the car starts to change direction, pull the handbrake. **DISCLAIMER: Don’t try this at public roads! Also, it is not my fault if you somehow screw it :stuck_out_tongue: ** I have done 180 turns in all the cars that I have owned in the past, with no ill effects: Seat Toledo, VW Polo MkI, Hyundai Atoz, Hyundai Santa Fe.

-Doing 180 degree turns is very funny, but there are two things to consider. Go a little faster than 20-30 km/h and pull the handbrake sharply and hard. If not, the car will only do a 90 degree turn, which can make it roll over (I did that once and the car was on two wheels for a split second). Also remember to push the clutch so the engine won’t stall.

-I’ve pulled the handbrake while travelling at a straigh line with speeds a little over 100 km/h with no ill effects (other than tire, brake and suspension wear). But I’ve never done a 180 turn while going faster than 50 km/h. At that speed the car will turn 180 degrees, but then it will continue travelling in the initial direction. I feel that a 180 turn at a higher speed must be really dangerous.

I recently left my handbrake on without noticing, and traveled a mile or so at freeway speeds before exiting, coming to a stop, and then noticed a very acrid odor.


It didn’t seem to affect the car’s braking ability noticeably. But then, Ford brakes suck anyway.

I’m gonna take it in to the dealer on my next scheduled maintenance and say “my wife drove this car for a few days, and now the handbrake feels kinda sloppy. Can you check it?”