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Some People Asked - Why Use Your Handbrake When The Gear Is On Park? - See 6 Reasons

This is a million dollar question and many people wonders why use the handbrake when you put your car in P - Park for automatic vehicles. Well, first of all, if its not important, the manufacturers wouldn't deem it fit to leave it there.

I decided to write this post because of whats someone posted on Nairaland this morning;

Hello guys, out of my curiosity, I'll like to ask;

For Automatic cars, it's impossible for the car to roll when the gear is on Park(P), still i observe some people engage their handbrake while the car is on P.

As for me, the only time i use my handbrake for Automatic cars is while I'm on traffic and i want to relax my foot, i prefer to use the Neutral(N) gear (because it's more closer to D for a quick start) when I'm on a hilly road to prevent the car from rolling.

What you need to know about the handbrakes

The handbrake is an essential component of your vehicle's safety system and it should be used on a regular basis - not just when the car is parked on a hill. While a handbrake is usually recognized as essential in a manual transmission vehicle, it should be considered just as important in an automatic transmission vehicle as well.

When a car with an automatic transmission is put into park, a device inside the transmission called a "parking pawl" engages. A parking pawl is a metal pin that engages into a notch ring that is attached to the transmission's output shaft. When engaged, the pawl restricts the transmission's output shaft from turning. 

Unfortunately, parking pawls can break or possibly become dislodged. While this is not a common occurrence it can happen, and if it does your car may end up rolling down the street. To further cement this notion, consider reading this article on why Toyota recalled about 300,000 sienna vehicles @ Toyota Recalls 300,000 Sienna Minivans As They May Roll-Away Unexpectedly

A handbrake on the other hand will hold the vehicle in place even if the parking pawl breaks or dislodges. The handbrake is a manual system that puts a stronger hold on the vehicle than simply putting it into park.

When it comes to manual transmissions, the handbrake is essential. Leaving a manual transmission in gear does not lock the vehicle in place, it simply makes it harder to move, but it can still roll away. The handbrake should be engaged every single time a manual transmission vehicle is parked as well as automatic system.

How handbrakes work

The handbrake is a completely mechanical system that bypasses the hydraulic braking system to stop the car in an emergency or keep it in place when parked. Steel cables are attached to the parking brake lever and when the lever is pulled the cables tighten, pulling another lever that compresses the brake shoes (on drum brakes) to stop the vehicle or hold it in place. 

On a disk brake system, when the handbrake lever is pulled, it engages a corkscrew device, which pushes a piston into the brake pads stopping the vehicle. Handbrakes are also outfitted with a self locking mechanism so the parking brake will not release until the lever or in some cases the parking brake pedal is released.

Below is the major reasons why its important to engage your handbrake even when the gear lever is on P - Park positive.

1. Handbrake is more useful than u think. Have u ever wondered why it is difficult to engage your gear while u are parked on a slope? Ha ha u think it's normal and harmless for u to be engaging your gear with force and a loud bang? That is because the transmission is resting on the slope, it can wear your transmission faster. 

The right way to park is first engage your handbrake while your foot is on the foot brake. Then put your car in park. That way the handbrake stops the car from rolling and the transmission will be free. So that when u want to get your car out of park it will be so easy without that loud bang.Thus this reduces the stress on the gearbox (or something similar). 

FYI - The rule is - (handbrake, then shift into park).

2. Also useful when u parallel park on a very steel slope, let's say a car is parked closely behind u. When u want to move forward, on engaging drive, u would want to take your foot off the brake to accelerate, your car might back up before going forward due to the steep slope thereby hitting the car behind u. But with handbrake engaged that can be avoided. Just floor the throttle before releasing hand brake.

3. If the car is hit while parked the handbrake will provide stability to the vehicle, and in most cases will prevent it from rolling away.

4. It is best to engage the parking brake while the brake pedal is being depressed, before shifting into park this will reduce the strain on the parking pawl.

5. If the parking brake isn't used regularly, the cables, which are located under the car can corrode and get stuck in place. This can become a big problem, as you may not be able to use the brake or the cable will snap when you try to engage it.

6. Most importantly, do not forget to disengage the parking brake before driving, as it can damage the entire braking system

Now you know how important it is.

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