To us my e-brake or not


this is advise I got from an old boyfriend (was boyfriend at the time of the advise)…Never use your emergency brake on your automatic, it will stick over time. Then, the current boyfriend (2 years later) tells me I should always use my e-brake no matter if I have an automatic or manual because not using it will damage my transmission. Who do I trust?


The only thing an ebrake is good for in an automatic is sliding around in snowy/icy parking lots! Seriously though, you don’t need to use it, ever. You might want to if parking on a steep hill or if you are launching a boat.


Use it every time you park. It will reduce strain on the parking gear in the transmission, and the frequent use will keep it from ever sticking. That way if you need it in an emergency (real brakes fail), it will work.


Go with the second boyfriend and use your handbrake (technically a parking brake, or p-brake) frequently. Never using it at all promotes rusting in place and it may become useless.

I always use it whenever my manual transmission car is parked. Always. My automatic cars have less need for the p-brake to be engaged but I do give the p-brake an occasional workout just to keep it in good repair.


Unfortunately, Xebadaih and your first boyfriend are both wrong. (Maybe X is actually your old boyfriend, trying to justify his bogus advice.)

An e-brake that is never used is an e-brake that you may not be able to rely upon in an emergency. Just as with certain parts of your body, things that are never used tend to function poorly when suddenly called upon to do their job. Using it regularly (like every time that you park the car!) will keep rust from forming on the e-brake cable, will keep the entire e-brake mechanism “limber”, and on some cars, will actually adjust the e-brake.

Additionally, with an automatic transmission, relying solely on the “pawl” inside the transmission to hold the car in place can put strain on that part and can eventually cause the parking pawl to fail (Translation–big bucks to repair it). It might be less critical to use the e-brake when parking a manual transmission car, but even a car with a manual transmission can wind up creeping or rolling under certain circumstances if the e-brake is not used.

The e-brake was put in your car for a reason, and I suggest that you use it regularly. The only time that I might not use it is in sub-freezing weather, as it might stick under those conditions. However, an e-brake that is regularly used is less likely to stick, even in sub-freezing conditions, than one that is used only rarely.


Car manufacturers don’t install parking brakes on cars for their looks. Use it. If you have regular maintenance, the brake will be checked and/or adjusted if needed. Using it won’t make it stick.


You probably should use it (although most people don’t bother). Personally, I use if if I’m parked on a significant slope to reduce the strain on the transmission. Using it occasionally should help keep it from binding in place, not using it at all is likely to make it useless.


The current boyfriend is right.

Some people feel you shouldn’t use it if you’ll be parked on level ground for a long time (more than a week) in damp or freezing conditions because it could rust or freeze in place. I did have that problem myself with a car twenty years ago, but never since then.

Absolutely use the parking brake if you get out of the car while it’s running.


You should always use it on hills. Using it on flat spots may not be needed. The only place I don’t use it is in my garage. One of my kinds tells me that it’s illegal in MD to park without using the emergency brake. I don’t think the cops will ticket you for not using it, but if the pawl lets loose and you hit someone, it’s definitely your fault.


I was only speaking from experience. I’ve never had the parking pawl fail in any of my cars and I don’t know anyone who has had one fail. I’ve also never had a parking/emergency brake stick, or ever not work. But I really do not believe it is critical to use your parking brake more than once every couple months, just because, maybe…


Use it! On automatic transmissions, the parking pawl is a lousy 1/4 inch of steel and subject to failure under strain and repeated heating and cooling with the transmission. On manual transmissions-use it! The only thing holding your car in place while in gear is the engine’s compression and if that is low and the hill is steep your car is ROLLING! To those who don’t use it in icy or sub zero weather because it will freeze in that position I say, “Yeah, right. Once in a thousand times”.


I agree with everyone that has advocated using the parking brake often.

Beyond the reasons already mentioned, in some states/provinces it is required by law to have a functional parking brake (i.e. 2 functional braking systems, the regular brakes and parking/emergency brake). If you’re ever pulled over by the police and they want to do a safety inspection (if this applies to your location), and they find the parking brake inoperational, you could be paying some fines and having your vehicle towed/plates seized.

This applies to Ontario, not sure about other provinces/states.


Boyfriend #1 is wrong.
What everyone is saying about the park pawl is true, it can fail. And it is a parking brake, not an emergency brake.
What you must also understand is this. If you car is a front drive and you park on a slick hill then you have all 4 wheels locked, preventing sliding. If you don’t use the pbrake on a slippery hill you only have the ft wheels locked and may slide and hit a car, on your insurance.

Also, if the car has rear disc brakes the only way to keep them adjusted is to use the park brake.
Gee, I’m glad we had this talk and glad to see you got rid of bf #1 (joking)


Also, if the car has rear disc brakes the only way to keep them adjusted is to use the park brake.

That may be true on some make/models, but certainly not on all cars with rear discs.