How hard to pull the parking brake?

A mechanic once told me (I’m female) to pull my (hand-operated) parking brake only one click, so I don’t stretch the cable. When other people drive my car…ok, when guys drive my car (which is an automatic)…they pull the hand brake really hard.

Does anyone know for sure which is best? Yank the handbrake as hard as you can, or baby it?

Your mechanic’s wrong. Pulling it only one click will result in no braking. As an experiment you might find a gentle hill, put your car in neutral, and see how far you need to pull the brake to keep the car from rolling. My cars require a firm pull, so you might do the same.

Im with tex. Find the area that holds your car on a mellow grade and give it an extra click when parking on a grade.

If your parked along a curb turn your wheel the proper direction so as if the brake or park failed the wheel will be turned toward the curb and the curb will hold the car.

It takes an awful lot to stretch those cables, and if they do stretch they can always be adjusted to compensate for the stretch. Giving the hand brake a nice firm yank is the way to go, that way it’s actually doing something other than lighting up the brake warning light in the dash.

On a somewhat related note, I once adjusted a customer’s parking brake so it would actually work, and they brought the car back and complained about it. Their complaint was that they pulled with all their might and could only get three or four clicks out of it. They wanted it adjusted so the lever came up all the way when they pulled on it. Weird.

Pull it as far as you need to hold the car in place and not much further. I put the car in neutral when on an incline and put on the parking brake. If it moves, I put it on a little more. That’s all you need to do. If it’s adjusted right, this point is usually about 1/2 to 3/4 of the travel of the lever or pedal.

My car used to have that typical Toyota mushy dead zone in the brake travel when it was new. After I adjusted the shoes close to the drum, I got the brake feel I wanted and one click was good enough for all but the steepest hill. And no, I don’t think it was adjusted too tight as the mileage was not effected at all. If one click does the job, then so be it.

Yank it. Your mechanics is wrong, incorrect, crazy, or all three.

  1. one click will not hold your car in place. If it does, than it’s adjusted too tight and should be looked at.
  2. I defy you or your mechanic to stretch the steel cable. If you can, than the cable is wearing through and should be replaced. Yes, with constant use it may eventually stretch a bit, and that can be adjusted out.
  3. pulling the parking brake regularly keeps the parts free and gives you an oppportunity to notice if something needs looking into.

Ahile it’s called a “parking brake” rather than an “emergency brake”, I personally believe it’s a “backup brake” should your main system fail and consider it a safety system. It should be used/tested routinely and kept on good shape. And that means a good strong yank on the handle.

Good assessment Same. My one gripe is the move of some back to foot parking brakes…maybe cause drivers with weaker arms can’t apply the hand brakes as well ? My 4 runner foot brake cable has never stretched, much, and my leg is a heck of a lot stronger then most people’s arm. Not really…just making a point.

I had to get used to using a hand brake again when I bought my Nissan Versa last year which has a hand brake…My previous car, a chevy malibu had a foot brake and I hated that thing because I had to push my foot down on it as hard as I could so it would stay in place…or else it would pop back up! I usually just gently pull my hand brake on the nissan…

Dag, I like your point. It would make more sense to have them foot operated, at least on automatic tranny cars.

And that brings up a good point relative to the original post. If we couldn’t stretch the parking brake cables pushing with our feet, how could her/his mechanic possibly believe that one could stretch the cable pulling with his/her hand?

That hand brake is primarily there to keep your car from rolling if you happen to park on a hill. You should be using enough strength to safely hold your car in position even on a hill and with the transmission in neutral.

I once found out how important it is to have real brakes and not rely on the parking brake. I was entering an intersection on a busy intersection and the service brakes gave way. Both service brakes gave way (rusted lines totally failed. Lucky for me the other drivers were awake on their way to work and I brought my car to a stop about a half a block down the road. No damage that time other them my underwear,

Frankly I believe it is best to use the brakes as intended. Set the parking brake every time you park.