Safety of electric parking brakes - Have you had to use the handbrake while driving?

Have you ever had to use your parking brake while driving because of a problem with your brakes? Around here in road salt land I’ve heard two people tell stories about using the parking brake to slow down due to suddenly blown out brake lines that had rusted. Apparently the redundant dual system brakes aren’t always so redundant in all cases.

The electric parking brakes seem to just be there to satisfy the legal requirement, and they can’t be used while moving. What’s going to happen in a few years when the brake lines on these vehicles get rusted and the service brakes start to fail? I know of an 8 year old RAM with a section of brake line that must have had its coating damaged, because it’s already half way rusted through.

Yes, I have had the brakes fail on more than one car which I owned. Since I realized there was a problem, I was able to safely get to my destination by taking advantage of the engine braking and using the parking brake.
Personally, I would not buy a car with an electronic parking brake, any more than I’d buy a car with an electronic throttle body, or a car with touchscreen displays, etc.

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I’m sure it happens but I have never had a brake line rust through driving in Minnesota and South Dakota. I can’t imagine rear brakes having much stopping power though.

If you have to use a foot pedal parking brake, I guess you better pull the release lever the whole time so the brakes can be released quickly if the wheels lock up. Everyone should practice!

In most if not all cars (including my Lexus and my wife’s BMW), they can be used while moving.

In addition, you’re overlooking other useful features of an electronic parking brake, such as having it automatically applied when you park (which far too many people wouldn’t otherwise do) and as a hill holder when starting on a steep uphill slope.

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Yes. My first car, withOUT a dual system, failed a metal hard line. No brakes at all. Drove it to a shop with the foot-operated parking brake.

Another Yes, my '04 truck blew out BOTH circuits during an emergency brake apply because the lines rusted out. The parking brake on that truck was essentially useless because of ITS poor design! I still got the truck home so I could repair it.

Also Yes, FMVSS135 is the legal requirement. Must be able to stop the car, must be able to hold the car on a 40% grade. E-brakes will work to stop the car in the event of a brake failure.

See above! Push button, stop car.

So brake-by-wire is a non starter, huh? What about electric steering assist or electric rear-steer? I suppose those go on the no-go list, too? But we already know you are a Luddite! :wink:


From my experience of more than 3 decades as a professional Counselor, I can tell you that the vast majority of people who say that they would “never” do something will eventually find themselves in a position of doing exactly what they had proclaimed that they would never do.


Apparently applying the electric parking brake while moving varies depending on the vehicle. Some will partially apply the parking brake and then fully apply it when the vehicle stops. I don’t know what happens if you’re on slippery road conditions at high speed; such as driving on snow when your passenger pulls the parking brake while trying to use the window controls.

Can you imagine what would have happened if the rear wheels locked up when these idiots pushed the brake button at 90 MPH? What Happens If You Pull An Electronic Parking BRAKE WHILE DRIVING! - YouTube

Speaking of parking brakes, is it normal for the parking brake in a 9th gen F-150 to lock up the wheels in forward motion, but to hardly have enough strength to keep it from rolling backward down a hill?

Didn’t the video tell you what happens? Seems pretty clear.

The E brake is controlled with information from the ABS so the wheels don’t lock.

I must say I do miss the handbrakes on my 1960’s era VW’s. One pull and both rear wheels would lock up…….of course time marches on and I’m glad I now have a dual master cylinder and four wheels discs on my highway traveling car.

Fortunately i don’t ever have a passenger that stupid.


I had a 1999 Monte Carlo with a foot parking brake. But there was not a release lever. You stepped on the pedal to apply the brake. And you stepped on it again to release the brake.

I guess I could have used it as an emergency brake if I had to. But in 19 years and 240,000 miles I never lost my brakes.

Better not fly either, many aircraft controls are now fly by wire. Better stick to a Ford Tri-motor, the cable controls are clearly visible on the exterior.


What happens if your demented passenger decides to downshift your transmission to first gear while you are traveling at expressway speeds? What if he/she decides to wrest control of the steering wheel from you? What if he/she decides to bust-out a window if they can’t locate the window control?

Just like another forum member, I’m really glad that I don’t transport the same type of passengers that you apparently do.

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As I said before, my bil used to show off with his 54 desoto. He’d slow down to about 20, then put it into reverse. Tires just smoked but nothing else happened. With my own eyes.

Computer changes desoto to desktop. Sheesh

With the control to open the sun roof being a 6 inch tall lever that is right next to the gear shift lever, that could be a serious issue!

But really the critical controls to operate a vehicle are all very big and usually require some force to operate. The steering wheel, shift lever, parking brake lever are huge! It’s hard to mix them up.

But–in theory–not for the people whom you apparently transport, based on your previous statement.

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And what vehicle is that /