Electric brake instead of hand. What is better and what is worse than the classical solution?

Electronic handbrake vs mechanical: who will win?

Electric brake instead of hand. What is better and what is worse than the classical solution?

Electric Parking brake (handbrake) in recent years, beginning effectively to replace the conventional mechanical brake, which is usually activated with a lever. Due to this, in modern cars there are many useful features, and their operation has become easier. However, the electrical handbrake is not without flaws. And they are quite significant.


Electric Parking brake (EPB) is a solution in which instead of the traditional lever located near the driver seat or pedal for the left foot, there is a small button that activates a sophisticated braking mechanism. This technology has several advantages:

  • extra space for storage between the front seats
  • the aesthetics of the interior of the car
  • more effective braking in emergency situations
  • automatic vehicle hold on the rise (assistance lift)

Let’s look at the last two advantages of the electronic Parking brake because the first two are so obvious. It turns out that this modern system the Parking brake not always safer than a mechanical handbrake. However, to thoroughly understand the nature of the subject, you need to first know at least the General structure of the system.


Two widely used systems

Electric brake instead of hand. What is better and what is worse than the classical solution?

Typically, today, automakers have not abandoned the use of traditional manual Parking brake in favour of the electric handbrake. In the end, currently the automotive industry uses both the old mechanical and new electrical.

It should be noted that there are two types of electric Parking brakes. Today car manufacturers use both systems. The first is the Electromechanical handbrake – very similar to the classical mechanical solution, which is the mechanism for braking the rear axle of the vehicle. If this design is to activate the Parking brake uses a cable, which clamps the brake pads on the rear wheels. The only difference from the conventional handbrake is a lack in the cabin of the classical activation lever of a manual brake. Instead of a lever use a button located on the console between the front seats. Most often, such a system can be found on French and Japanese cars.


The second solution is a little more complex is all electric Parking brake system, rear brake calipers, equipped with tiny engines, the task of which is to move the clips. For example, the decision to use German and American automakers. In particular, the company Volkswagen Group.


Safer when, and when not?

Electric brake instead of hand. What is better and what is worse than the classical solution?

The EPB system uses the hydraulic brake system all four wheels in critical situations and at higher speeds. Therefore, the emergency brake electric Parking brake is not working as the classical Parking brake. Thanks to all hydraulic brakes, the braking power is significantly higher than that of the traditional handbrake-lever. And thanks to the ABS system the car is more stable (the system prevents the wheels from locking during braking).


So when, for example, the driver loses consciousness, even the passenger can stop the vehicle (of course, provided that he knows how to do it and where is the button for the electronic handbrake). In this case, you must press or pull the button and hold it to achieve the goal. Unfortunately, it’s not always as easy as it seems at first glance.

The fact that the button of the electric Parking brake can be small enough. In an emergency, while passengers will find the handbrake button, it may take a long time, with the result that it may be too late. In modern vehicles the button may be surrounded by many other buttons allows you to quickly figure out where the button is the handbrake. Quickly grab and pull the hand brake easier and more intuitive.


Electric brake instead of hand. What is better and what is worse than the classical solution?

Seems obvious where the button of the Parking brake. However, in a stressful situation to find her can be difficult.


Also on some models (for example, on the Volkswagen Passat B6), this button is located to the left of the driver door, so the passenger can’t reach her if necessary. However, you can argue about the differences. For example, in many cars Mercedes classic mechanical handbrake is not presented in the form of a lever between the front seats, and in the form of a conventional foot pedal on the left, to which no one else has access except the driver.


Another aspect. If modern electric emergency brake works in all hydraulic brake system, what will happen when the leaking brake fluid? Fortunately, this is an unusual situation, and the system will work even if one braking circuit. If you fail all the circuits of the circuits of the brake system, then there is, of course, is to think. Especially if the machine is used electric Parking system based on small engines on the brake calipers. In the absence of brake fluid the whole system will fail.


In the end the car can be stopped only at a low speed. After initially electronic handbrake is only used to stop on a slow-moving car or to lock in a fixed state (for example, in order for the car not pushed on an uneven surface).


Additional features for convenience

Electric brake instead of hand. What is better and what is worse than the classical solution?

Through the use of an electric handbrake in the car there were two very useful functions. One of them is the system auto hold, which automatically activates the Parking brake immediately after stop. This is especially useful for vehicles with automatic transmission, as it saves the driver from having to keep your foot on the brake pedal during short stops on the road (eg at traffic lights).


When activated, the system automatically hold the car without holding brake pedal will not slide, as it will stand on the Parking brake. But as soon as you press the gas pedal, the Parking brake will shut off automatically. This is also the same solution used on some vehicles with a manual transmission.


Electric brake instead of hand. What is better and what is worse than the classical solution?

Help system during the descent when moving from the mountain – actually the same solution as the system of automatic deduction of the car, but only works in other situations. When, for example, the driver going down a hill, it limits the speed of the car using the brake pedal. Help system during the descent relieves the driver from holding the brake pedal during the descent. This function automatically brakes the car, limiting its speed of descent. By the way, the help function when driving on a slope is also available on vehicles with the classic hand brake lever, without EPB.


There is no electricity, and then what?

Electric brake instead of hand. What is better and what is worse than the classical solution?

The EPB system, of course, depends on electricity, and sometimes it happens that the battery is discharged. What in this case? This, unfortunately, leads to the fact that you can’t move the car after stopping as to unlock the brake system, which activates the electric handbrake, you need electricity. In this case, you will need to manually release the brakes, the procedure described in the instruction manual of the car.


Also you should know that the electric Parking brake EPB works only in one direction when the car key is not in ignition lock or inside the car (if the car is equipped with Keyless entry). That is, you can activate the Parking brake without the ignition key but can’t unlock the Parking brake until you insert the key into the ignition switch (or replace in the cabin Keyless key FOB). Of course, if the car battery is dead then shoot the car with the electric handbrake, you can’t.


Technical problems

Electric brake instead of hand. What is better and what is worse than the classical solution?

Unfortunately, the biggest drawback of electric Parking brakes is that it is significantly more complex design and operation, as well as the frequency of possible failures. It should be noted that this system is used today much more often than the old classic system based on manual mechanical handbrake. For example, all vehicles with automatic hold machine when stopping at the moment is only used electronic handbrake. For more complex designs have a higher risk of potential damage.


The biggest enemy EPB is moisture and dirt, which cannot be avoided. It is not surprising that after several years, some cars may require maintenance or even repair of the electric Parking brake system. Worse yet, fix the problem the electronic Parking brake a lot harder and more expensive than mechanical Parking brake. Even to replace the brake pads used electric Parking brake not so easy. For example, in many cars you can’t do without a computer. Of course, when you call the Studio where there is such a computer, you will have for replacement of brake pads to give more money.


Simple need to replace one of the components of the EPB system creates additional costs for the owners compared with the costs necessary for the maintenance of the classical Parking brake. Yes, of course, electric handbrake is not evil, but nevertheless the fact remains – to serve the modern car is much more expensive than the old one, where there is no such advanced systems. Yes, to use a modern hammer is more convenient and even in some situations, safer. But there are also disadvantages, which we told you. But, alas, such is the modern world, in which there is no escape from the new technologies. And modernity is always worth much more expensive. So if you have a choice, then decide what you prefer: to pay for the service electric Parking brake system more, but to use the handbrake in a more comfortable environment, receiving in addition a few useful functions or to reduce maintenance costs, buying a car with a mechanical handbrake, but to be modern without the advanced options of comfort and security.

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