Many new cars are fitted with electric handbrakes to replace the traditional lever-operated system. These are designed to make life easier for drivers. But like every new bit of tech, they’re causing a bit of confusion. How do they work? How do you use them as part of standard driving manoeuvres, like the hill start?
This is your essential guide to the electric handbrake. But more importantly, it’s a basic guide to doing a hill start with an electric handbrake.
How Does a Manual Handbrake Work?
The handbrake is designed to stop your car from rolling when you stop on inclines. For decades, it’s been operated by a lever situated between the driver’s seat and the passenger seat. When you pull the lever, you pull a pair of cables connected to your rear brakes. These cables hold your rear wheels in place, to stop the car from rolling.
Where is the Electric Handbrake?
The electric handbrake is also situated between the driver’s seat and the passenger seat, and it’s also designed to stop the car from rolling when stopping on an incline. But that’s where the similarities end.
What is an Electric Handbrake and How Does it Work?
Unlike a traditional handbrake, an electric handbrake is operated by a small switch, or a button. And rather than securing your rear wheels with a cable, it secures all four of your wheels with electronically-controlled brake callipers.
Another key difference: With traditional handbrakes, you have to physically disengage them before you can move off. With some electric handbrakes, this is still the case. But in a lot of new cars, you’ll automatically disengage the handbrake as soon as you try to drive off.
And that’s one major reason why electric handbrakes are fast becoming the norm! They make life easier for drivers. It’s one fewer thing to worry about, which frees you to pay that little bit more attention to your surroundings as you move off.
Plus, it takes a certain amount of physical effort to engage a traditional handbrake. It’s all too easy to not pull quite hard enough, in which case your handbrake won’t work. With an electric handbrake, just a touch of a button is all it takes to give you full peace of mind.
But how are you supposed to do a hill start with an electric handbrake?
How to do a Hill Start with an Electric Handbrake
It’s easier than you might think. The process might take some getting used to but once you crack it, you’ll probably find hill starts easier than ever.
- With your handbrake engaged, push the clutch fully down and choose first gear.
- While bringing the clutch slowly up to the biting point, gently push the accelerator.
- Once it’s safe to move, push the electric handbrake button to disengage while bringing the clutch up a little higher.
- Gradually increase your acceleration while you continue to slowly bring the clutch up, and you’ll start to move up the hill with complete control.
How to do a Hill Start with an Automatically Disengaging Electric Handbrake
But if your car’s electric handbrake disengages automatically the moment you push the accelerator, then the process will be slightly different:
- Push the clutch down and choose first gear.
- Bring the clutch slowly up to the biting point.
- Check that it’s safe to move, then gently push the accelerator.
This will disengage your electric handbrake, and after this it’s just a case of balancing your pedals like you normally do when setting off.
Hill Start Assist Technology
If your car’s advanced enough to feature an electric handbrake, then it’ll likely also include hill start assist technology. This system will automatically keep your car in place on a hill for about three seconds – long enough for you to find the clutch biting point. If you don’t find the biting point in time, then no worries – you’ll just have to engage the handbrake again.
Total Peace of Mind
As we said above, electric handbrakes are designed to deliver total peace of mind. Once the handbrake’s engaged it is totally secure. It’s a complete failsafe that will keep you stationary on even the steepest of gradients.
For total peace of mind beyond your car’s advanced safety features, choose a comprehensive car insurance policy that’ll cover you for all possibilities. That way you can rest assured that, should anything ever go wrong, your insurance will be able to take care of everything.
At Go Girl, we specialise in providing safe drivers with the cover you need at an affordable price. Head here to get a free quote in minutes.