When it comes to technology, nowhere has seen bigger leaps in technology than cars in the last 20 years (maybe phones actually…). Manufacturers strive to make every aspect of driving as easy, safe and comfortable as possible. This guide will take you through how they work, how they have been accepted, and if they are easy to live with or not!

How does an electric handbrake work?

An electric handbrake does much the same job as a normal manual lever handbrake. In a manual, you pull the lever up and a wire pulls the car’s rear brake pads tight and holds them there. An electric handbrake archives the same result but instead with a button controlling electrically controlled motors. You can usually hear the sound of the electric motors locking the brakes, good to hear! 

The E-brake has been around since 2001 when it appeared first on the BMW 7 Series and was kept exclusively for expensive cars, but in recent years the likes of Ford, Volkswagen and even Vauxhall now have adopted these in many new cars. 

Most electric handbrakes are operated by the driver pulling/pushing a button to activate it, but some modern cars can now even sense when you have come to a stop! 

What is Auto-Hold?

This is an added feature on some electronic parking brakes. Using the car’s anti-lock brake technology, it senses when the vehicle has come to a stop and continues to apply the brakes, even after you have taken your foot off the brake pedal. It can be a very useful tool when it comes to hill starts! 

This can be frustrating though, as it can come on when you don’t want it to and in some models can be very jerky and irritating. Best if you are trying to park, leave it off! 

There have been cases of people not pressing the brake hard enough for it to come on. This can be a problem if you don’t realise and take your foot off the brake on a hill. Always make sure the light has come on the dash before taking your foot away. 

How does a manual handbrake work?

The old-fashioned lever and cables handbrake is still reliable and an important tool in the car. As mentioned before, you pull the lever up and a wire pulls the car’s rear brake pads tight and holds them there.

Some old Mercs have a lever under the dash or even a pedal down at the footwell to operate the handbrake! These can be more straightforward to use, but can be confusing if you have never driven one before!

Pros of E-Brakes:

  1. More convenient 
  2. Easier to use
  3. Free’s up space
  4. More reliable than manual

Cons of E-Brakes:

  1. More expensive to repair
  2. You may miss analogue controls
  3. Slower to engage

Can I still do handbrake turns?

We would never condone the use of a handbrake turn on the public highway! But, in certain circumstances, it can be quite fun (when in a controlled + safe environment). Unfortunately, there is no safe way of performing a handbrake turn with an electric parking brake. 

You can find videos of the Top Gear guys trying to do it, but unless you are trying to damage the e-brake, we would NOT recommend doing this!

Posted 14/12/2021 Back to Blog

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