Everything you need to know about parking brakes

A not insignificant element in every car is the parking brake or parking brake. This is why future drivers learn to use them at driving school. In particular, this brake helps drivers to park in a controlled manner on slopes and should not be forgotten when getting out of the car. There are different models of parking brake. In this article, find out where the name comes from and how to best use the parking brake when using a car. This way you can be sure that your car stays firmly in the parking space when you park.

What is a parking brake and what is it used for?

The parking brake is also known as a parking brake. It is the brake lever, which is located between the two front seats, near the gearshift lever in most cars. The parking brake is necessary to ensure that the car can be parked safely. In particular, when the vehicle is parked on a slope, the parking brake must be set to prevent the vehicle from rolling away because of the slope. Apart from this, the parking brake is also useful when starting on a hill, as less fuel is needed to control steep mountains. The parking brake prevents you from losing control and reversing when starting, even if you "stall" the car in the meantime.

How does the parking brake work?

The parking brake is usually installed in vehicles as a drum or disc brake. When the parking brake is applied, the wheels are locked and the braking effect is achieved. If, on the other hand, the parking brake is released again, the braking effect also decreases and you have to brake with the foot brake.

What is the difference between a drum brake and a disc brake?

As already mentioned, vehicles are equipped with drum and disc brakes as parking brakes. Drum brakes are mainly used in small and medium-sized vehicles. With this type of brake, the cable of the parking brake is tightened and acts on the brake shoes of the vehicle. These are located in the brake drum. They are spread apart when the cable is tightened. On the other hand, particularly large and heavy vehicles, such as off-road vehicles or limousines, are usually equipped with disc brakes. When the parking brake is applied on these vehicles, the brake cable acts on the vehicle's brake cylinder. This ensures that the brake pads act on the disc and thus hold the wheel on an incline. This means that even large and heavy vehicles can be parked safely on a mountain. When comparing drum and disc brakes, the disc brake provides the best braking effect.

"Handbrake", a misleading word for newer vehicles

In the jargon, the parking brake is often referred to as a parking brake, which is sometimes misleading these days. Currently, not all parking brakes are operated by hand. Some vehicles are equipped with a special foot brake on the inside that is positioned in place of the hand brake. However, this practice is only common for a few cars or makes in Germany. Most often, however, an electronic parking brake is used. Modern cars, which are equipped with all kinds of state-of-the-art technology, have such modern braking systems. The electronic brake only has to be activated with the finger, so the whole hand is not necessary. However, there are also systems where the parking brake automatically engages by itself when the engine is switched off. Therefore, the term "hand brake" is not applicable to all parking brakes, as there are also automatic systems and parking brakes that are operated by foot.


Today there are different parking brakes available and their use varies from one vehicle to another. The disc brake is particularly safe, and is mainly used in large cars. It is important to remember to apply the handbrake when leaving the car. This prevents the vehicle from rolling unintentionally and thus endangering road traffic.
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