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Old 29th March 2020, 08:49   #1
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Default The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars

The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars-2017skodakodiaq55.jpg

Many new cars today are opting for the e-parking brake & there is no denying that it frees up space on the center console. Most owners will also prefer flipping a lever versus a mechanical handbrake which can sometimes be cumbersome to disengage. This is a "premium" feature that will inevitably make its way down to mainstream cars (new Creta has it too).

My main problem = its STUPID location! End of the day, this is a small lever that can & will be accidentally engaged. On a recent outing, I'm driving with my friend in the passenger seat and suddenly, the 530d starts decelerating . After being disoriented for a second or two, the warning on the instrument console reminded me that the e-parking brake has been activated, mistakenly by my friend. I'm pretty sure its happened to others too.

This can be outright dangerous if it happens on the highway. Imagine being rear-ended by a truck! The primary issue is the e-brake location and I'm extremely surprised that manufacturers didn't think of this. The center console is where the co-passenger rests his hand too. Humans have a tendency of fidgeting with their free hands & it's far easier to engage an e-parking brake than to pull up a mechanical handbrake. The problem can be amplified if you have a mischievous youngster on the front seat (in some cars, the e-brake switch is easily accessed from the backseat too!).

My suggestion is to move it to the dashboard. I would prefer to have it on the right of the steering so that only the driver can reach it. However, I do understand that the passenger would sometimes need to access it. In that case, it can be to the left of the steering (on the dash). But for heavens sake, placing it in such an easily accessible spot where we rest our arms is just asking for trouble. I'm willing to bet that we'll see a lot of crashes once the e-brake gains volumes via mainstream cars.

Some do have it on the dash. Mercedes - being safety-obsessed Mercedes - has smartly placed it out of accidental reach, and so is the case in a handful of other cars. The dashboard is the only place to have this control. All Indian car manufacturers read Team-BHP and I hope this thread influences some of them. Here's the current E-Class:
The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars-lightswitch.jpg

And another Benz:
The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars-annotation-20200329-084255.png
Source

Some Cadillacs too have it smartly placed on the dash:
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Source

Although not my first choice, here is a car that has it on the slanted edge of the driver-side center console. Still acceptably distant from passengers, although I don't rule out drivers also being guilty of accidentally engaging the e-brake:
The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars-annotation-20200329-084555.png
Source

Sadly, thanks to the "herd mentality" of car designers, a majority have it on the center console. The Jeep Compass gets an e-brake switch that is within easy reach of the front passenger, is surprisingly effortless to engage, and brings the car to an immediate halt:
The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars-2017jeepcompass61.jpg

Some models (like this VW Passat) actually have it on the passenger's side (an obvious carryover from their primary LHD markets):
The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars-cupholders.jpg

A related video:

Last edited by GTO : 29th March 2020 at 11:10.
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Old 29th March 2020, 11:10   #2
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Default Re: The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to Tech Stuff!
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Old 29th March 2020, 11:20   #3
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Default Re: The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars

I had never seen the E-parking brake on the Merc, but its following the same trend as their foot operated parking brake in their earlier models, being far away from passengers.

I personally prefer the mechanical hand brake and agree with you that the e-parking brake button being easier to engage should be kept well away from the centre console.

The new Hondas having all buttons for their gears (in automatic) are creating a more dangerous trend, which I hope other manufactures don't follow. Its the same as rotary knobs for gears in other cars like Jaguar, which is again a danger.
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Old 29th March 2020, 11:43   #4
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Default Re: The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars

I just hate the whole idea of an e-brake. The satisfaction you get each time after pulling the handbrake is unmatched. Personally, I see this whole action of pulling a sturdy handle as a full stop to a good drive. It gives a sense of accomplishment and completion.

Anyways, if the manufacturer wants to provide an e-brake switch in the centre console, it should have a flip cover over it, just like the Lamborghini's start/stop button.
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Old 29th March 2020, 11:46   #5
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Default Re: The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
My main problem = its STUPID location!
This is a simple electronic switch that activates an actuator, which in turn engages the brake. The positioning shouldn't be an issue IMO.

The elephant in the room is the software I would say. Simply get the stuff programmed in a manner that the actuator won't work when the car is moving in either direction and above a pre-set threshold speed. I don't see this as a problem, it is just a set of lines in the code IMO.

But yes, what surprised me is the fact that manufacturers should have already applied the same. Parking brake is supposed to hold a parked car and not bring a running car to a screeching halt after all.

Example: What a software can do, can be seen in Hyundai Smart Pedal, where one pedal input is simply over ridden when another one is touched - even an i20 gets it. The computer knows what has to be done in the situation, and the problem is solved.

Edit: Look how thoughtfully VW does it in Passat (Video from 2008 car):



Quote:
Originally Posted by Radiator View Post
I may be wrong, but the p-brake could act as a backup incase of a total brake failure.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AMG Power View Post
it would defeat the purpose.
Requesting you guys to go through the Passat video. In this one, if you simply press the button, the brake engages but gets immediately disengaged too. But if you press and hold the button, the parking brake holds on and brings the car to a complete halt.

My point is, automakers need to do it thoughtfully, and it won't be a problem at all.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 30th March 2020 at 08:24. Reason: typo edited
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Old 29th March 2020, 12:02   #6
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Default Re: The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by VKumar View Post
. Simply get the stuff programmed in a manner that the actuator won't work when the car is moving in either direction and above a pre-set threshold speed.
I may be wrong, but the p-brake could act as a backup incase of a total brake failure. So, if a threshold is set, the p-brake would be reduced to just keeping the vehicle stationary(Similar to the P mode in an automatic transmission).
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Old 29th March 2020, 12:02   #7
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Default Re: The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by VKumar View Post
Simply get the stuff programmed in a manner that the actuator won't work when the car is moving in either direction and above a pre-set threshold speed.

Parking brake is supposed to hold a parked car and not bring a running car to a scratching halt after all.
While the predominant use of the parking brake is to hold a parked car, it also serves to bring the car to a halt if and when the brakes fail.

Slotting the gear lever into P also helps in similar brake failure situations.

So if the parking brake is programmed not to work after the car moves past a threshold speed it would defeat the purpose.
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Old 29th March 2020, 12:18   #8
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Default Re: The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by VKumar View Post
This is a simple electronic switch that activates an actuator, which in turn engages the brake. The positioning shouldn't be an issue IMO.

The elephant in the room is the software I would say. Simply get the stuff programmed in a manner that the actuator won't work when the car is moving in either direction and above a pre-set threshold speed. I don't see this as a problem, it is just a set of lines in the code IMO.

But yes, what surprised me is the fact that manufacturers should have already applied the same. Parking brake is supposed to hold a parked car and not bring a running car to a scratching halt after all.

Example: What a software can do, can be seen in Hyundai Smart Pedal, where one pedal input is simply over ridden when another one is touched - even an i20 gets it. The computer knows what has to be done in the situation, and the problem is solved.

My point is, automakers need to do it thoughtfully, and it won't be a problem at all.
Sorry in advance if this post is factually incorrect, but were'nt handbrakes or parking brakes designed to work on the rear wheels in the event of a failure in the primary brake system? If so, then it would be wrong to program the system such that the emergency brakes not working in case the vehicle is in motion.

Why can't the parking brakes continue to be a supplementary brake system to the primary brake system and be in working condition at all times?
I agree with GTO that the switch location is such that it may be easily engaged, and probably a switch cover may be an easy fix to the problem. Probably can fit that as an aftermarket fitment too.
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Old 29th March 2020, 12:40   #9
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Default Re: The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars

Just thought of one more reason = With a mechanical handbrake, if you gradually or lightly pull on it, nothing really happens. With the e-brake being pretty much an on / off switch, it's crazy!

Hope the smart brands take note.
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Old 29th March 2020, 13:55   #10
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Default Re: The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
The problem can be amplified if you have a mischievous youngster on the front seat*
I've a different experience to share - not with the electronic parking brake though. I've an automatic Seltos. This took place while on a highway drive recently. My just into the teens son was in the passenger seat. He accidentally slotted the shift lever to N while the car was on the move as he was trying to take out a tangled usb cable from the cubbyhole right in front of the shift lever. This can lead to a potentially dangerous situation if it happens midway into an overtaking manoeuvre.

Just wondering why there shouldn't be a lock mechanism that prevents the shift lever from accidental moving once D is engaged. And the unlocking can happen when the car comes to a standstill. The other slots of N, R and P are anyways not required when the car is on the move .

(No harm if it gets accidentally slotted into the sports mode which is by moving the shift lever towards its right as the car would be still in gear )

By the way, my son is far from being a mischievous one


Besides , if at all the e-braking switch has to repositioned , I feel this is a great spot too as shown in the attached pic. The old Maruti 800 's had the hazard switch placed there. It also has the ease of access to engage it while at start stop traffic to free your right foot off the brake pedal. That's one area the driver's hands doesn't go. If it's on the dashboard I feel it goes a bit far off from driver's reach if one has to constantly use it like in b2b start-stop city traffic.
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The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars-screenshot_20200329140335_whatsapp.jpg  


Last edited by Bibendum90949 : 29th March 2020 at 14:09.
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Old 29th March 2020, 14:07   #11
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Default Re: The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars

The objective of the Parking Brake is to ensure the car remains stationary securely. The other option is Park or lock into Gear. The e-handbrake helps in idiot proofing those who cannot manipulate a clutch properly.

Why the electronic brake? Apart from more space, it is the best method for cars with rear discs as it clamps the disc with high pressure. Most cars had small drums within the rear hub for a hand brake. Again, it idiot proofs the car - so more excuses about

"Did not pull handbrake up"
" Handbrake cable stretched"
"Shoes got worn"

Coming to the Mercedes and the Passat. The handbrake switch is relegated to the dash as there are alternate methods to activate the brakes.

1: Press hard on the brake when at rest
2: In the case of the Mercedes, dab the Park button

Nowadays, brakes rarely fail due since one is warned well in advance about wear or low fluid levels. Most countries have fitness checks in place. Of course, anything can happen but likelihood is low.






Quote:
Originally Posted by AMG Power View Post

Slotting the gear lever into P also helps in similar brake failure situations.

.
I doubt it. "P" locks the transmission, that too with the brake depressed. I dont know instances where this has been tried but I am betting, you can move to P only when stationary and anyway, if you engage in motion, you might damage the drive train. Its a bit like stuffing a pole between the spoke of a spinning wheel.

Last edited by ajmat : 29th March 2020 at 17:20.
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Old 29th March 2020, 14:55   #12
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Default Re: The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars

Hi @GTO

Not sure how this incident happened in the 530D. The EPBs off late have a program built in their ECM. It checks for various parameters like speed, steering input, accelerator input etc. If there is an accidental application like in your case, the algorithm is supposed to dismiss off that input and will continue to be in "off" mode. However, if the driver wishes to engage the EPB while driving, the ECM is programmed to sense this need and it stops, that too progressively and without much drama. In short, the ECM of the EPB is clever enough to identify an accidental EPB application.

The EPB also has various features like drive away assist, comes on as soon as the doors are opened, serves as a secondary brake incase of primary brake failure and also the ability to package a parking brake in the front axle.

EPB is an evolution of the good old hand brake lever. Guess the technology will be honed and a decade from now, we may not even have a button to operate it!
Cheers
WC

Last edited by wild child : 29th March 2020 at 14:55. Reason: spacing
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Old 29th March 2020, 15:57   #13
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Default Re: The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars

To start off with, it must be an easy fix.

Anyone has used the remote trunk opener through the smart key in the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz? (and similar in many other cars) It is in the key fob and I have never accidentally opened the trunk unless I need to. Reason: Delay.


If we have to press the hand brake button for 2-3 seconds to engage it, then many cases of untoward pressing could be avoided, and without changing the design at that.

Last edited by kaushik_ak : 29th March 2020 at 15:58. Reason: added additional content
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Old 29th March 2020, 16:59   #14
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Default Re: The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars

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Originally Posted by kaushik_ak View Post
If we have to press the hand brake button for 2-3 seconds to engage it, then many cases of untoward pressing could be avoided, and without changing the design at that.
But then, if one has to constantly use it in a start stop traffic to ease off your right foot from brake pedal, this long press activation of EPB would be cumbersome I feel. Guess many drivers practice this method at long waiting traffic signals and in B2B start stop traffic.

Last edited by Bibendum90949 : 29th March 2020 at 17:01.
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Old 29th March 2020, 18:29   #15
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Default Re: The dangerously stupid e-parking brake location of modern cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post

On a recent outing, I'm driving with my friend in the passenger seat and suddenly, the 530d starts decelerating. After being disoriented for a second or two, the warning on the instrument console reminded me that the e-parking brake has been activated, mistakenly by my friend.
Was the switch pulled and held up or was it just a flick? If it was the former, I'd place a large part of the blame on the human since this is a conscious action and not an unconscious brush against a switch.

Yes, the manufacturer could improve on the location but I doubt it will ever be completely idiot-proof.
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