I am new and interested in car driving.

I have seen several videos using hand brake for, turns, drifting, parallel parking by race car drivers, donuts etc, to prove the ability of what a vehicle/driver can do.

But, I have heard/read that, using handbrake often, will cost a lot if that system is damaged.

I am not satisfied by what I have heard.

If, it is going to cost a lot, then how people are using it?

May be using in proper manner in all cases, will not damage the system? If not, is it possible to achieve the performance with minimal wear and tear?

Could some one share some inputs on this one on, how bad the wear and tear to the system will be, with different differential system.


3 Answers 3


First of all, realize the handbrake in and of itself is used for holding the vehicle, not stopping the vehicle. You could possibly use it in an emergency if so needed, but that's most likely a once in a lifetime ordeal. If it's a dedicated hand brake, there's very little friction material or surface area on the drum/disk to actually do the job. If it's a shared hand brake (one where it's used for braking under normal use and for holding as for the handbrake), there only a little bit more friction material or surface area. Under normal use, the rear brake pads are used for about 30-35% of the braking for the entire vehicle (the fronts do the rest). This is the reason they are smaller without much friction materials. To continually use the handbrake will cause a huge amount of wear and will destroy the friction material it uses well before its time, because it's getting used for something it wasn't designed to do (ie: stopping the vehicle). This applies to either handbrake solution.

How much damage will occur? It isn't that it will cause damage, per se, but rather it will wear the braking items out much faster by doing this. The factors involved are: how much it's used like this; how big the car is; how fast are you going when you pull the handle; what type of friction materials are involved; etc; etc; etc. There is no equation which is going to give you an "if I do this 20 times, my brakes will be shot" type of output. There's just no way of telling. Just know, it's going to happen much quicker. Realize, since a dedicated handbrake sees very little frictional wear ever, any abuse of it is going to cause severe wear. There's just no way around it.

The big thing you need to be made aware of is in most of the situations (if not all) you pointed out in your question don't use a parking brake to do the deed. They have a separate braking caliper along with a braking handle which allows them to operate either side independently, then still have normal braking besides. A system could look something like the following image:

enter image description here

Plus they use a braking mechanism which could look something like this:

enter image description here

When you push on the handle it applies brakes to one side of the car, while when you pull the handle it applies brakes to the other side. In other words, they never use the emergency brake at all, which is the typical way drifters and the like will manage their braking needs.

  • Hi @PAULSTER2, thx for the reply. I saw some videos from utube for BMW. bit.ly/2pFyN9x and bit.ly/1rYcFSl. I have seen only single caliper mounted both rear and front. And lot more videos too. For some turns, they used handbrake. I am struggling to match the above one with the videos. Could u pls clarify a little more, with respect to these ones. So, I can understand better. Thx. Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 4:10
  • @NANDAKUMAR - I'm not saying people don't do it. I'm saying it's really bad for using the parking brake for anything other than parking. I would suggest in the Pennzoil commercial, they are using the parking brake more for visual effect than they are for true braking ability. One other thing, look at 1:53 of the same video. It states: "Professional driver on a closed course. Do not attempt. Respect all traffic laws and never drive recklessly." If you want to learn how to drive a car correctly, go to a driving school. Don't depend on YouTube videos for your education. Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 12:05
  • I don't really disagree with anything that you said, but if it's true that using the handbrake just causes more wear to friction surfaces, then those specific parts (brake discs and pads) are intended to be replaceable with fairly little work anyway, so it doesn't sound like something that should be considered a big problem.
    – Dolda2000
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 17:30

I have seen hand brakes fail more due to lack of use, which can cause the linkage to freeze up after having been exposed to water, but I have never heard of excessive use causing a problem. It's intended to be used every time the vehicle is parked. Repairing worn out hand brake pads should not be any more costly than regular brake servicing. Driving with the hand brake on and then needing to replace the rear brake parts used by the hand brake is a fairly common occurrence.

The hand brake can share the rear brake shoes or it can have dedicated brake shoes or pads depending on the vehicle. It's not meant to be used for normal braking since rear only brakes are hazardous, and in the case of separate handbrake pads or shoes, they don't have as much wearable surface or heat handling capacity as the rear brakes, which are usually already much smaller than the front brakes.

It low speeds this should not be an issue, and replacement is as easy as normal rear brake servicing.


One more aspect to consider.. if a handbrake is used to stop the rear wheels on a four wheel drive car, you can potentially destroy the center differential (especially on Subarus).

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