Parking BrakesHow often do you actually use your parking brake? Your answer may be "rarely." Therefore, you may ask yourself, "Do I really need to get my parking brake serviced?" the answer is "Yes." For most parking situations people do not use their vehicle's parking brake and you may wonder, "When should I be using my hand brake? The answer is “Probably more than you are right now.”
All vehicles have two brake systems. The 'service brake' which is the primary brake system is the one that activates when you step on the brake pedal. The secondary brake system, also known as a 'parking brake', an 'emergency brake' or, a 'hand brake' is independent of the service brake system and is engaged by levers or cables. This functions as a backup in case the service brake fails, which is why it’s typically referred to as an “emergency brake.”
If you’re driving a manual-transmission vehicle, your car rests in a neutral position therefore, using the hand brake is prudent, and it reduces wear on the clutch. If you’re starting on a hill, it is essential to use the secondary hand brake on a manual-transmission because you will find your car rolling down the hill. Even in an automatic-transmission vehicle, the gravity which is discharged onto the vehicle from the incline or decline forces more pressure on the brakes and can wear out the life of your braking system.
If your parking brake does not work properly and you find yourself in a situation where you have to use your "emergency brake", the pressure forced onto the brakes may not be enough to "hold" your vehicle in order to regain control. Bring your car in to Auto Repair Service and have one of our ASE Master Certified technicians to have it serviced.
It can also benefit you to use your parking brake under "normal" parking conditions because this practice can help to extend the life of the braking system on your vehicle. Using the emergency brake regularly when you park also has a secondary benefit: It keeps the cables and levers moving. Most often found on automatic-transmission vehicles, unused cables and levers tend to oxidize and seize in place. If a real emergency comes up, you’ll be glad you kept those cables in motion.
Whether you’re driving or parking, get in the habit of using your emergency brake to keep the parts moving. In case you need to use your emergency brake in a real emergency, it will be ready to act, and could save your life.