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How does the handbrake work?

The handbrake, also known as the parking brake or emergency brake, makes sure to keep the car fully stopped when parked, preventing your car from rolling away on an uneven surface. To engage the handbrake, the driver pulls the lever up until it cannot go any higher. When releasing it, the driver must press the button located a the end of the lever before lowering it. The handbrake itself is located between the driver's and the passenger seat.

The handbrake works thanks to a cable which, when the lever is pulled up, will divide itself into two parts in order to activate the braking system on the rear wheels on most of the cars, and therefore blocking the wheels.

When the handbrake is engaged, the handbrake warning light will turn on. It is represented by an exclamation mark, or by the letter P, surrounded by two parentheses in the dashboard.

However, if the handbrake warning light is permanently on, this might indicate a dysfunction: the handbrake may be damaged, the handbrake cable may be broken, or a wire in the harness may be exposed.

Electronic handbrake

The manual handbrake with a handle is slowly starting to disappear, and more and more cars are equipped with electronic parking brakes.

To engage an electronic handbrake, the carowner presses a button located on the dashboard. Then, the electronic handbrake works the same way as a mechanical handbrake. The only difference between a mechanical and electronic handbrake is only the activation of the mechanism: The manual action when pulling the lever to activate the handbrake is now automated.

Benefits of the electronic parking brake

The main benefit of the electronic parking brake is the absence of some mechanical parts, reducing the wear and maintenance. Moreover, the electronic handbrake is connected to the car's computer, which make it easier to diagnose any kind of failures.

Another benefit is that the electronic handbrake gets engaged and disengaged automatically. For instance, when approaching a hill start, the handbrake will get activated automatically, and the brakes will be released upon restart.

Electronic handbrake failure

Having more and more electronic components in cars increases the risk of failures. It is, therefore, necessary to perform electronic diagnostics at a garage in case of breakdown. For example, the handbrake can get stuck in case of low battery, or because of problems with the power supply.

Electronic handbrake repairs are way more expensive than mechanical handbrakes repairs: It is important to get a check at the slightest malfunction before the handbrake has a failure.

Handbrake adjustment

Handbrake adjustment is important when you want to avoid uneven brake wear. As the handbrake is essential for your safety, it is advised that the adjustment is carried out by a mechanic who will perform the adjustment underneath the car. It can also be done from the inside of the car: In that case, it will be necessary to dismantle the centre console of the car.

This job is usually cheap and quick and should cost just a few dozen pounds, depending on the garage's hourly rate.

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Prices on a brake repair

The average prices and savings for the car brands shown are based on different models and years. You must therefore create a job and compare quotes to see your actual price and savings.
Make Save on average*
£102 / 23%
£141 / 23%
£84 / 22%
£121 / 26%
£74 / 23%
£74 / 23%
£86 / 22%
£94 / 26%
£80 / 22%
£91 / 25%

Over 1 Million happy customers

Junction 59 Classics Ltd
6 months
The. Service I received was very friendly and professional. The price was reasonable and everythi...
Michelle Q.
Ford Fiesta (2018)
RSH Performance LTD
7 months
Richard was very helpful, the service was quick and friendly. I am definitely using this garage a...
Helena H.
Ford Focus (2011)
D&G Auto Car Repair
7 months
Service and quality of work, would definitely recommend😊👍
Clare S.
Ford EcoSport (2019)

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