Everything You Need To Know About Handbrakes

Author Name – Ben Garner

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In this article, we’re going to discuss everything from how a handbrake works, to how to tell if it needs fixing.


How does a handbrake work in a car?

When a handbrake is applied, it triggers a series of cables that apply manual brakes to the wheels, usually the rear two. These brakes will apply more force when the handbrake is pulled higher, until at the stage where the car won’t move under any form of acceleration.

How to use

To apply the handbrake, simply pull the handbrake lever up to a high point. If the car is still moving, you will need to pull the handbrake higher to increase the force of the brakes.

To take the handbrake off, slightly lift the handbrake then click the button on the lever before lowering it down. Make sure that the lever is all the way down before setting off as having it slightly on will impact your acceleration and can cause damage to your vehicle. Most cars have a warning light on the dashboard when the handbrake is applied, so make sure you check for that too.

Should handbrake be up or down when parked?

When parked, you should pull your handbrake up. This will prevent your car from rolling whilst unattended and potentially crashing.

What are electric handbrakes?

You may have noticed a new style of a handbrake on new cars. They work similarly to a traditional handbrake by stopping your car from moving by locking the brakes. The key difference is that it uses electric motors. By pulling the button on the handbrake, the electric motors tighten the brakes to an exact amount of force needed to prevent rolling. This can help the longevity of the handbrake by preventing excessive force from being used.

What happens when you drive a car with the handbrake on?

Usually, the car won’t move if the handbrake is applied with a high amount of pressure. However, if the handbrake hasn’t been put down completely, the car could still move. This can be very dangerous, as it will significantly decrease acceleration and wear down the brakes. Before setting off, we recommend checking the handbrake is fully down and seeing if the handbrake light is still on the dashboard, which indicates the handbrake is still in effect.

How to test if working

To test if a handbrake is working, you should first apply the foot brake. Then apply the handbrake and slowly release the foot brake. If your car remains stationary, then your handbrake is working. You should test your handbrake every time you drive to prevent any accidents.

Book a brake check at National 

If you would like an in-depth brake inspection, which includes inspecting the handbrake, then you can book this online for just £20 and you will receive a written report as well as a quotation valid for 30 days, should any work be recommended. This brake check can be carried out at your local National branch.

Book Now

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