Electric parking brake vs manual hand brake vs foot brake, which is better?

Adrian Chia · May 22, 2020 02:48 PM

Parking brake is a safety mechanism that prevents a stationary car from rolling away. Parking brake is also commonly referred to handbrake because of its hand-operated lever.

However, there are also different types of parking brake such as foot-operated pedal (footbrake) as well as the increasingly common electric parking brake (EPB). Each of these parking brakes has its benefits, but which is the best?

First, we will explain how each parking brake works. The manual handbrake and footbrake work exactly the same by locking the rear brake disc (or brake shoe for cars with brake drums) when applied.

It bypasses the brake servo pump and has a direct connection to the rear brakes. Besides preventing the car from rolling away, it also doubles up as emergency brakes in the event where the hydraulic braking system fails.

Manual parking brakes are also cheaper to repair/maintain as it only involves mechanical hardware.

EPB also functions similarly to the hand and footbrake, however, the difference is that the EPB is operated via a switch. Simply press to engage or disengage the parking brake.

Most EPBs come bundled with the ‘Auto Brake Hold’ function which automatically engages the brakes when the car is at a stop. Auto Brake Hold is especially convenient when crawling in stop-go traffic.

Having EPB also allows car manufacturers to free up precious cabin space as compared to manual parking brakes. Besides that, EPB is part of the car's wider network of electrical systems which is connected to the ABS, Brake Assist, and ESC.

EPB at times is a hardware requirement for certain functions on Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS). This is also the reason why the previous-generation Honda Accord’s Honda Sensing does not have Low-Speed Follow function.

Whenever any of these systems malfunctions, the EPB would not be able to function, and warning messages would light up your instrument cluster. At times this would cause your car to not be able to move and require a tow truck. A problem that you won’t have with manual parking brakes.

We admit having the car to breakdown on you is a major inconvenience but knowing that the braking system on your car has malfunctioned, not being able to drive the car is actually a failsafe to prevent the risk of an accident.

Although mechanical handbrakes, whether is it hand or foot-operated, have their benefits, the convenience and functions brought about by EPB far outweigh the ability to initiate handbrake turns.