Always Set the Parking Brake
The parking brake is called the parking brake for a reason: you should use it when you park your car. Many people think you only need to use your parking brake (also called the emergency brake) when parking on a hill or if your car has a manual transmission. This is incorrect; whether your car is a manual or automatic, the terrain is hilly or flat, you should use your parking brake every time you park.
A car is held in “park” by a device inside the transmission called a parking pawl. The parking pawl can break or become dislodged and the car will roll away. Granted, there is a low chance this will occur, but there is a chance nonetheless.
The parking brake will hold the car in place while it is parked and will help protect the transaxle, constant velocity joints, and transmission. A parking brake is capable of a stronger hold than only putting the car in “park”. Of course, you still need to put the car in “park”. Additionally, if your car was hit while parked, the parking brake would provide further stability, lessening the risk of your car rolling away.
You should set the parking brake while your foot is still on the brake pedal and before shifting into “park”. This reduces the strain on the parking pawl.
Most parking brakes are hand-operated levers located in the center console. To set the parking brake, pull up on the lever. To release the parking brake, press the button on the end of the brake handle and lower the lever. In some vehicles, the parking brake will be a foot pedal located on the far left side of the driver’s pedal area. To set the brake, push firmly on the pedal.
Depending on your vehicle, there are two ways to release the parking brake. In some vehicles, the pedal is pushed down until you hear a click. In other vehicles, you must pull on a brake release lever located near the parking brake pedal.
Lastly, don’t forget to disengage the parking brake before driving again. Trying to drive with the parking brake on does not sound good and it is not good for your car either. Setting the parking brake when you park and disengaging the parking brake before you drive should become habit, so you should never forget to do either part.