When Should I Use My Parking Brake?


Electronic E-Brake | Lou's Car Care Center, Inc.

Out of all the buttons, levers, and switches in your vehicle, the parking brake is the feature that you most likely commonly overlook. The parking brake is also known as the emergency brake, e-brake, or handbrake. And is more important than you think. Find out how often you should be engaging your e-brake and why.

How Does The Parking Brake Work?

The parking brake is part of your vehicle’s overall braking system. It is a vital part of keeping your car from moving after you’ve parked it. The emergency brake was originally designed to be the secondary braking mechanism that would stop your vehicle if your main braking system failed. The parking brake will press against your rear brakes with less force than the primary braking system. Many people use the parking brake to keep their car in place when parked, especially on hills or steep inclines.

When you shift your car into “Park”, you engage a device called the parking pawl. The pawl is a small, metal part in your transmission that locks the gears into place. This device can wear out over time and can cause your vehicle to roll back a little after you park. Engaging the parking brake can ease the stress put on the parking pawl.


What Are The Types Of Parking Brakes?

There are 3 main types found in modern-day vehicles:

  • Center Lever – This lever is located between the two, front seats.

Hand Lever Parking Brake | Lou's Car Car Center, Inc.


  • Foot Pedal – This pedal is located on the floor, under the steering column. It is to the far left of the gas and brake pedals.
Foot Parking Brake | Lou's Car Care Center, Inc.


  • Push Button – This button or switch is located on the center console near the gear shifter.
Electronic Parking Brake | Lou's Car Care Center, Inc.

When Do I Use My Parking Brake?

Lou’s Car Care recommends using your parking brake often. It doesn’t matter if you are parking your car on a flat spot, incline, or decline. This will keep your vehicle from rolling away should the parking pawl fail or if your car is struck by another vehicle.

We DO NOT recommend using your parking brake when parking the car for extended periods of time. The emergency brake can lock up and you won’t be able to move your vehicle.

The parking brake is a part of the overall braking system and can seize up if not used often. This can cause premature brake wear and possible transmission issues down the road.

Please be aware that if you have never used your parking brake and you try to use it now, your e-brake may freeze up. Ask a technician to inspect your braking system to find out the condition of your parking brake, the next time you’re in for service.

Also, the parking brake is subject to many State Vehicle Inspections. New York State requires a functional parking brake to pass inspection. If your emergency brake cables or actuators are frozen or broken, you will have to have them repaired before you can receive a New York State Inspection sticker.

Most of the new cars on the market today come equipped with an electronic parking brake. For some, this automatically engages the e-brake when you shift your gears into “Park”.

Will your parking brake pass inspection? Schedule an appointment today! And one of our experienced auto technicians can perform a Digital Vehicle Inspection for you. Lou’s Car Care is the right choice for your vehicle repair and maintenance needs. Serving Baldwinsville, NY, and surrounding areas since 1976.



Let's Connect! Click on the links below to stay in touch with the Lou's Car Care Community:

Facebook Icon | Lou's Car Care Center, Inc.    Instagram Icon | Lou's Car Care Center, Inc.    Pinterest Icon | Lou's Car Care Center, Inc.    TikTok Icon | Lou's Car Care Center, Inc.    YouTube Icon | Lou's Car Care Center, Inc,    LinkedIn Icon | Lou's Car Care Center, Inc.
LinkedIn Icon | Lou's Car Care Center, Inc.
Lou's Car Care & Fleet Services is committed to ensuring effective communication and digital accessibility to all users. We are continually improving the user experience for everyone, and apply the relevant accessibility standards to achieve these goals. We welcome your feedback. Please call Lou's Car Care Center, Inc. (315) 638-0281 if you have any issues in accessing any area of our website.