Do you actually know what the point of your hand brake is? In various parts of the world the hand brake holds a few different names; the ‘E-brake’, the ’emergency brake’ and the ‘park brake’ are all names for the same mechanical component of your car.
If you’re truly honest with yourself, you probably have no idea what it’s intended use is. You have blindly pulled the hand brake every time you have parked and never bothered to think what’s the point.
The hand brake in Japanese sports cars can and will lock up the rear wheels. Fanging along McCarrs Creek Road in your Honda Prelude and ripping up the hand brake will cause the rear wheels to lock up, it will also stretch the living daylights out of your hand brake cable. It also demonstrates to all your mates following you in a VT Commodore station wagon, that you can’t actually drive, have no control over a sliding car and that you are the tool that your mates always knew you were.
Take the same scenario in a Toyota Yaris, the factors change here a bit, a Yaris has the same acceleration as a fat kid on a treadmill. Ripping the hand brake on a Yaris will probably only cause the car to slow down a bit, it will only be marginal as the drop from 45 kilometres and hour to 42 is somewhat minimal. However the Yaris does run a drum rear brake and hand brake set up. So if you in fact manage to redline your Yaris in top gear before pulling the hand brake up, you may manage to squeeze 62 kilometres an hour out of it and the act of pulling the hand brake up will cause the rear brake shoes to delaminate, as well as turn the brake pad to powder. This will render your now rocketing Yaris into a hairpin corner with no rear brakes at all. The end result is the same, you have proven to the world that survival of the fittest is a lie.
Now take the same scenario with Mum’s Holden Commodore, the hand brake comes on, in fact it comes up so high that your now scratching your ear with the hand brake leaver, the dash starts singing the hand brake warning song, a loud bang is heard and the car does not slow down, the rear wheels don’t lock up and your hand brake never ever works again.
The truth is the hand brake is not intended as a optional sports pack accessory and is a safety feature used for when you car is parked. It is intended to hold the car stationary once you have come to a complete stop or assist you in a hill start on steep hill when your car rolls back. That is all.
Two common mistakes made with hand brakes need to be cleared up in order to save consumers some dollars.
The first of these mistakes is made when driving an automatic transmission. Putting the car into ‘P’ for Park engages a component inside the transmission called a ‘Parking Pawl’. This prevents the car from rolling when in park. However applying the Park gear before the car has come to a complete stop can cause massive damage within the transmission. Don’t do it. Come to a complete stop with the car before putting the car in Park. Additionally the hand brake should be your primary brake here. The Parking Pawl is a back up for if the hand brake fails, not the other way around.
The second error made by almost all of mankind is how tight you pull the hand brake on. The hand brake applies a breaking mechanism that applies the rear brakes. Once the rear brakes are applied the job is done. The hand brake will come up more after this happens, this does not mean you should pull it up more. all you are doing is stretching the cable which will eventually require replacing, something that is completely avoidable if you would just stop pulling the hand brake on so tight.
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