Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving



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These terms below are used interchangeably to refer to the mechanism that allows the driver to manually engage the braking system to prevent a vehicle from rolling or to keep it stationary while parked:

  • Emergency brake

  • Parking brake

  • E-brake (slang abbreviation)

  • Hand brake (separated form)

  • Brake lever

  • Parking lever

  • Brake handle

  • Hand-operated brake

  • Manual brake

Useful tips on the use of the handbrake:

? Questions:

Defensive Controls Handbrake


  • Ensure the handbrake is released and dashboard light off before pulling away.

  • If a manual handbrake (as shown in the accompanying photo), always push and hold the release button in when either pulling up or releasing the handbrake.

  • You don't want the ratchet sound when pulling up the handbrake. Aside from preventing the annoying noise, it also has the benefit of being able to quickly release the handbrake if necessary.

  • You will have more control over the handbrake when holding the release button in.

When should a car handbrake be used?

The car handbrake, also known as the parking brake or emergency brake, should be used in the following situations:

  • Parking on an Incline: When parking on a slope or incline, engaging the handbrake helps prevent the vehicle from rolling downhill. It provides an additional layer of safety to ensure the vehicle remains stationary.

  • Parking on a Flat Surface: Even when parking on a flat surface, it is recommended to engage the handbrake as a precautionary measure. It adds an extra level of security and prevents the vehicle from moving unexpectedly.

  • Manual Transmission: When driving a vehicle with a manual transmission, engaging the handbrake when parked helps prevent the vehicle from rolling or moving when starting or shifting gears. It reduces strain on the transmission and makes it easier to engage the clutch.

  • Automatic Transmission: While not always necessary, it is still advisable to engage the handbrake when parking an automatic transmission vehicle. This helps prevent strain on the parking pawl, which is a component inside the transmission responsible for keeping the vehicle stationary.

  • Emergency Situations: In emergency situations where the primary braking system may fail, such as a hydraulic brake failure, the handbrake can serve as an additional means of stopping or slowing down the vehicle.

Remember to apply the handbrake fully and ensure it is engaged securely. In addition to engaging the handbrake, it is essential to turn off the engine, remove the keys, and follow any other parking guidelines or regulations specific to your location.

It's worth noting that the handbrake should not be used as a substitute for regular braking while driving. It is primarily intended for parking and emergency situations. For regular driving, rely on the foot brake system, which is designed for effective braking under normal driving conditions.

? Can you drive a car with the handbrake on?

Technically, it is possible to drive a car with the handbrake (parking brake) engaged, but it is not recommended or safe to do so. Driving with the handbrake on can cause significant damage to the braking system and adversely affect the vehicle's performance. Here's why:

  • Increased Resistance: The handbrake applies resistance to the rear wheels, which can make it difficult for the vehicle to accelerate. It puts extra strain on the engine and can cause excessive wear on the clutch or transmission components.

  • Overheating: Driving with the handbrake engaged can cause the brakes to overheat due to continuous friction. Excessive heat can damage the brake pads or shoes, leading to reduced braking efficiency or complete brake failure.

  • Uneven Braking: The handbrake usually operates on the rear wheels only, while the primary braking system (foot brake) operates on all four wheels. Driving with the handbrake on can cause uneven braking, which can lead to instability, poor handling, and increased stopping distances.

  • Premature Wear: Constantly driving with the handbrake applied can cause accelerated wear on the handbrake components, such as cables, pads, or shoes. It may require more frequent repairs or replacements, adding unnecessary costs.

If you accidentally drive with the handbrake engaged, you should immediately release it and ensure it is fully disengaged. It is important to check the condition of the brakes and have them inspected by a qualified mechanic to ensure there is no damage or excessive wear.

Remember, the handbrake is primarily intended for parking and should be fully released before driving. Always rely on the foot brake for regular driving and ensure the handbrake is only engaged when the vehicle is parked and stationary.

Why does the car still roll with the handbrake on?

If your car is rolling even with the handbrake engaged, there could be a few potential reasons:

  • Insufficient Handbrake Engagement: The handbrake might not be fully engaged or properly adjusted, resulting in limited braking force. Ensure that you pull the handbrake lever or push the foot pedal firmly and verify that it is fully engaged.

  • Worn or Faulty Handbrake Components: Over time, the handbrake cables, pads, or shoes can wear out, lose tension, or become damaged. This can reduce the effectiveness of the handbrake, causing the car to roll. A professional inspection and potential replacement of worn handbrake components may be needed.

  • Hydraulic Brake System Issue: The handbrake is often connected to the hydraulic brake system of the vehicle. If there is a problem with the hydraulic system, such as low brake fluid, air in the lines, or a malfunctioning brake caliper, it can affect the handbrake's performance. Have your brake system checked by a qualified mechanic.

  • Inclined Surface: If you are parking on a steep incline, the force of gravity might be stronger than the handbrake's ability to hold the car in place. In such cases, it is recommended to additionally use wheel chocks or blocks behind the tires to provide extra stability and prevent rolling.

If you consistently experience issues with the handbrake not effectively holding the car in place, it is important to have it inspected and repaired by a professional mechanic. Proper functioning of the handbrake is essential for safety when parking and preventing unintended vehicle movement.

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Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving