Using the Handbrake

The handbrake on my car is “playing up”… and I’m getting conflicting advice… so I am throwing the subject open to the Forum.

When using the handbrake… do you push-in the button when lifting the lever… or only when releasing the lever… or both ?? :thinking:

I push the button in in both directions but I don’t think it’s necessary when pulling the lever to apply the brake. It’s a ratchet, the lever will go up with the button pushed or not but will only go down and release the brake with the button pressed.

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If you don’t push the button in when you apply the handbrake it will go click click click click on every notch of the ratchet. Or as my driving instructor used to put it ‘don’t do that, it buggers the ratchet’.


On all the cars I’ve driven in the last 40 years or thereabouts you can’t release an engaged handbrake without pressing the button to lift it out of the engaged (pulled up) position.

Once the brake lever is released, it can be raised and engaged without using the button. It engages or locks once you stop lifting it and let go of it.

As for letting the ratchet click, I think the click and the proper tension needed for full engagement of the brake rules out the risk of the car rolling downhill by itself.

Without the click you may not engage the brake safely. That’s my firm opinion.

If you hold the button in and lift the handbrake and then release the button, it will engage at the highest notch having bypassed all those on the way. The end result is the same.


My old habits and ideas die hard :face_with_hand_over_mouth::stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

I always engage the clutch when starting the engine. It’s a habit I established 64 years ago, from my father, and have never had the guts to abandon…:thinking::cow:


Old habits do indeed die hard!
I also disengage the clutch when starting the engine (would start with a kangaroo hop if you engaged it!).
I park in gear with the handbrake disengaged unless I’m on a steep hill.
I turn the wheels in to the kerb when I park on a hill.
I always reverse park when possible (that was NAAFI training, so that all vehicles could be evacuated out of the hangar as quickly as possible in case of fire or, more likely in 70s when I worked for them, bomb alert).


I don’t let it click on the way up because of mechanical sympathy. There is no need for the click and it’s easy enough to know when the the handbrake has been applied.
Perhaps Stella needs to give more detail about her need to start this thread.

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A very necessary correction, @anon27586881, for which I am very grateful. I should have said ‘depressed the clutch pedal’. I have a morbid fear of kangaroo jumps.

I’ve only twice had clutch failures, though, both due to perished cables on older cars.

Isn’t a handbrake only used to perform sharp turns at speed as it is absolutely guaranteed to impress The Ladies!

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The Ladies aren’t impressed by such behaviour.
The Gels might be :roll_eyes:

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That’s what I was told too.

It’s been well over a year since I drove an rhd but as I recall I used to pull the handbrakes up without pressing the button and only pressed it to release the handbrakes…:thinking:

My French lhd doesn’t have a handbrake at all which for a start caused me much cognitive dissonance…frantic explorations into the door compartment and many embarrassing moments in the first few days when I stalled the car…

Even now with no handbrake except a red light that lets me know the brakes are on I still leave the car in gear as my driveway slopes down towards my house…

With the caveat that I have no mechanical expertise whatsoever and my knowledge of cars is reduced to whether they start or don’t…then maybe you need a new handbrake cable…??? :slightly_smiling_face:

Modern cars aren’t mechanical, any apparently moving parts are a visual hallucination generated by the cunningly evil brain that is installed at eye level in a bulge above the rear mirror.

The vehicle itself is a paranormal brain that interprets you in all your dimensions by the contours of your own rear end, the distance between your eyes, and your ( or to be less invasively direct my personal ‘fragrance’ :thinking::stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:.

Between journeys it implants the route and destination of your next journey into your lizard-brain at the top of your spinal cord, so you respond accordingly at a time pre-programmed by Renault, according to an algorithmic master-plan made by gnomes in the bunker under the European Commission in Strasbourg.

If you ever decide “I won’t use the car today, I’ll walk and get some fresh air” the idea has been planted in your in cortex by your car, when you last took off the seat belt, because you were beginning to annoy it, and it needed to calm down.

I hope this helps. My next message will try to demystify greasing the nipples, which the car will not be expecting, but will put the car in its place. It’s a kind of #metoo tactic for bullying cars.

If you doubt any of this, just let the idea surface briefly in your thoughts before the car takes them over and decides it’'s time for you to release the handbrake…:robot::alien:

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It really would help if Stella explained what her handbrake issues were.

From what I see around here, handbrakes are an optional accessory. You can see them at a “circulation alternée” with their brake lights on and their engines running even when the countdown tells them they are going to have to wait 5 minutes.
I always find this problematic. Chances are they are going to roll back when they start, so do you keep well back, or do you get really close so that they won’t have gathered much speed when they hit you?

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Depends on the handbrake. My Morgan has a “fly off” hand break so you press down the button to pull it back and release the button to lock it. Then one press of the button and it… flies off. With a normal hand break you don’t have to press the button when pulling back and the ratchet clinks notch by notch into place, however more mechanically sympathetic folk would advise pressing the button when pulling back so that over time you do not wear/damage the ratchet. However this can be somewhat time wasting if you are emulating Stig Blomquist and approaching a hairpin flat out in the Kilder forrest.
Alternatively you can ask your passenger to take charge of the hand break or just press the “Auto” button on the dashboard or just put it into “park” and ignore the hand break altogether (depending if it is normal or dual clutch auto of not) :upside_down_face:

Some automatics have a known tendency to jam in the ‘Park’ position, especially if left stopped on an incline with the weight of the vehicle resting against the transmission. The manufacturers recommendation is to fully and firmly apply the handbrake BEFORE releasing the footbrake and moving the gear selector into the ‘Park’ position.

I agree with this totally, & add something else; when you are stopped behind someone who doesn’t use their handbrake at lights etc. & it is dark you end up being blinded, unless you studiously look elsewhere for the duration.
Having said that I now have an electric car with an e-pedal option which means that as long as one judges distances correctly you never touch the brake pedal. The car then sits on any gradiant ready to move off with a simple press of the accelerator. Believe me, once you’ve driven with this option you don’t go back.
The downside of this is that the cars sits with it’s brake lights on until moving off. I only use the (electric) parking brake when actually parked (as with a normal automatic it prevents the roll-back/forward you get if you only use P).

Good to know that you won’t be pumping out poisonous exhaust fumes, so I’ll forgive your brake lights!