Different Uses of the Parking Brake in European Cars

Parked Cars

You have probably heard of a vehicle’s parking brake as well as emergency brake. You might wonder if these terms are used interchangeably or if there is a difference between those two vehicle features.

An auxiliary brake is a braking system that is different than your regular brake system that is operated by a foot pedal. Auxiliary brakes are most often called a handbrake, emergency brake, or a parking brake. These brakes aren’t the same kinds of calipers used by regular brakes because the emergency brake system is separate from the regular brakes in case your brakes fail. There is no difference in an emergency brake and a parking brake. For performance vehicles, it is often called a handbrake.

Why are Different Names Used for the Same Brake?

The name used for a specific brake is dependent on the manufacturer’s intended use of the brake. If a car as a manual transmission, or in a vehicle where the brake is controlled electronically (which means it is button activated other than by a lever), the parking brake is used to keep the car in place regardless of where it is parked. Unless they are left in gear while parked, manual vehicles are left in neutral, so a parking brake will keep them in place. Automatic vehicles benefit from a parking brake’s use, since it protects the parking pawl in the transmission to hold the car in place while the transmission is already put in park.

Emergency brake is a misleading term. While you could use the auxiliary brake in the event of an emergency, it is more useful to use it for parking in the practical sense. If you have an automatic transmission and put your car in “park” when you turn your vehicle off, the brake is instead called an emergency brake, which can be confusing to some. It is basically a backup break for when your car is in park.

If the brake is in a performance or race vehicle, it is called a handbrake. This brake locks up the vehicle’s rear wheels enabling drivers to slide their car around curves or corners with relative precision. It shouldn’t be attempted on public roads, since it is not a safe practice.

New Single Button Switches

Modern luxury cars have gotten away from the pull lever and pedal parking brakes. Instead, in some models a single switch or button will enact the brake. Electronic parking brake systems are convenient and do not leave you guessing if it is properly engaged. You just switch the brake off and on.

This type of brake still operates independent of the car’s primary braking system. The BMW 7-Series debuted the electronic parking brake in its 2002 models with the 2003 Jaguar S-Type following suit. Now, they are basically in every vehicle that you encounter, but the deployment of the push-button feature in cars in the United States has been sluggish because more vehicles have automatic transmissions, and drivers engage the parking brake less frequently.

Your owner’s manual will explain how to engage and disengage the brake. You should have it checked by your expert automotive repair facility to make sure any issues are corrected, as you certainly need to be sure that the brake will function in the event of an emergency or when you need it. An emergency brake can play an important safety role in the event of a real emergency.

Getting Your European Vehicle’s Parking Brake in Order

Car Handbrake If you have any problems with your vehicle’s parking brake, take your vehicle to a qualified European automotive repair facility. When it comes to expert service in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Glendale, and Anaheim, CA, Pro Car Mechanics has a proven track record as a dealer alternative in taking care of Land Rover, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Bentley, Jaguar, and MINI vehicles.

We can take a look at your parking brake to ensure it is in perfect working order, ready to help hold your car steady in case you end up parking on a hill or in another situation where you want a little extra security. To schedule maintenance or service, call (310) 516-8110 today. We offer the gamut of services for your vehicles – sales, service and collision.

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