Learn about your Parking Brakes
How do parking brakes work?
A parking brake, also called an emergency brake or e-brake, is a mechanical hand lever or foot-operated brake that is a backup braking system. It is located either between the front two seats or to the left of your gas and brake pedal. A parking brake controls the rear brakes and is a completely separate device from your vehicle’s regular hydraulic brakes. It is in charge of keeping a parked vehicle stationary; it will prevent the car from rolling down a hill or moving. The emergency brake name comes from the brake’s ability to stop the car if the regular hydraulic brakes totally fail. Parking brakes are completely mechanical and use only cables and levers to operate. When a parking brake lever is pulled (or when a parking brake pedal is pushed), these cables transmit the necessary force to keep your vehicle in place or to stop the vehicle. The steel cables are attached to the parking brake, and when the parking brake is pulled, the steel cables are tightened. Most vehicles have drum brakes on their rear wheels; so, when the parking brake is pulled, the cables will pull a lever that compress the brake shoes to stop the vehicle. If your vehicle has rear disc brakes and you pull the parking brake, then the cables engage a corkscrew device that pushes a piston into the brake pads, which stop the vehicle. In both instances, the parking brake bypasses the regular hydraulic brakes to stop the vehicle. Parking brakes also have a self-locking system, which means that the brake won’t be released unless the lever or foot brake is released.