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Do you drive Manual / Standard transmission in the UK?

Do you drive Manual / Standard transmission in the UK?

  • No, why would I ever use the e-brake unless there was an EMERGENCY?

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I don't drive manual transmission... what's a clutch? whats an e-brake?

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


New Member
Jun 13, 2005
Hi there. I'm from the USA and I have a friend in England who is learning how to drive over there in the UK. She tells me that over in the UK the driving instructors teach people to use the handbrake (we call it the emergency brake for a reason) when driving a manual and stopped on a hill. Is this true?

Does everyone in the UK use their handbrake all the time like a 4th pedal? Why don't you blokes use the BRAKE pedal on a hill and just transition to gas like we do over here?

I don't believe that everyone over there does the "handbrake thing" but I want to find out! Let me know! Is it true?
I got my license in the Netherlands and they taught to do it that way in order to prevent rolling back on a steep hill.
Of course in practice it's much easier to not use it, so I think most everybody doesn't.

Now I must say your no option in your poll is flawed, of course there is a good reason to use the e-brake: hairpin turns. :twisted:
you call it emergency brake for some weird reason, the rest of the world calls it handbrake.
what kind of emergency is it where you use it? do you use it when you pop a tyre at 70mph? do you use it when a child suddenly appears in front of you? do you use it if you suddenly drive over ice? :roll:
its called handbrake for a reason, since you operate it with your hand and it is usually used when you park your car (which is hardly an emergency, is it?)

some driving instructors teach people to use it when stopping at lights on a steep hill, because then you can operate the clutch and accelerator with your feet while braking with your hand. thus you don't have to rush things and don't risk to stall the engine (or rolling backwards into the car behind you). its of course only used when the car has a manual transmission (which almost every driving school's car has, since you are often not alowed to drive a manual afterwards if you learned on an auto).
Well if you're doing 180 degree hairpin turns using the e-brake there must be an emergency right? Like... perhaps the police are chasing you? :twisted:
ryosuke said:
what kind of emergency is it where you use it?
Actually the emergency part refers to its ability to stop the car if your normal brakes fail (because of loss of brake fluids or something like that). ;)
I definitely dont discount the use of the e-brake when parking, etc..

For learning, I suppose I understand why it's used, it is easier for someone new to the clutch thing. But is it really a good practice to keep with you forever? Relying on the back 2 brakes to hold your whole car on a hill every time? I would imagine you are wearing out the little teeth on your e-brake lever using it so much thus increasing the chance of a failure... it's just not something you want to rely on.
You use the handbrake on really steep hills. It's not necessary to use it on small elevation, but there's also nothing wrong with it to use it all the time.

What's wrong with relying on the handbrake to hold you car on a steep hill? :?
When you park on a steep heel, and leave the car, you also leave the handbrake on and rely on that to keep your car safe.

I think you have some fundamentally wrong idea about the use and functioning of a handbrake.


Operator said:
Why don't you blokes use the BRAKE pedal on a hill and just transition to gas like we do over here?
Because we have a clutch over here as well, and you can stall the car quite easily, and roll back as well if you mess up.
I was taught to chuck on the handbrake when on a steep hill. prevents rolling back and it's much easier to get away without riding your clutch.

I've had my licence for almost 3 years and I still use the handbrake on a hill, hell, my dad's 55 and he does it too!

Preserves the clutch somewhat and prevents you rolling back into the dick who thinks its ok to sit 10cm from your rear bumper at the traffic lights.
I'm a wheel-shuffler [Institute of Advanced Drivers] UK person, so can probably clarify here.

In a manual car [which the majority of UK cars are], it's best to use the handbrake once stopped on a hill. Sure, use the brake pedal to slow, but once you've come to a halt put the handbrake on.

Why? Well, if it's a steep hill and you're just using the brake pedal when you want to go you have to rapidly move the clutch to the biting point and so forth and risk stalling the car or rolling backwards. Just leave the handbrake on, get to the bite point, then release the handbrake.

Another advantage is the brake light in your rear windscreen. A few people have complained, especially in fog or adverse weather, about drivers who only use their brake pedal when stopped. If you're stopped for any decent length of time [eg at traffic lights] it's best to stick the car in neutral, use the handbrake. Gives your legs a rest too. Means the rear brake light isn't on all the time and dazzling drivers behind [apparently a problem with LED rear lights and so forth].

Hope this helps things! :)
Yeah, they teach us too to use handbrake on hill to help getting moving. New drivers don't feel clutch well yet, so it's much easier. After a while you can let it slip a little and hold a car without brake pedal or handbrake at all.

When I park the car, I usually use clutch and handbrake. But on my own car only clutch, always forget to release the handbrake (it's on the left, and it's a LHD car). And it doesn't hold well anyway. I only use it when I need to step out of the car while it's running.
Funny stuff. I would think that drivers behind you seeing the brake light is a good thing, this way they dont think its time to gas it into your bumper, and wait until your brake light goes off before even thinking of gassing. Rolling backwards is always a slight problem but theres really nothing wrong with having one foot on the brake and one on the clutch and moving it to the engage point right before moving and gassing it, the rollback should be minor, if at all, unless you're a total newbie, and then sure use the handbrake until you're comfortable.

Nice 944 Turbo :) Being a 944 owner myself I will add this: do not rely on your hand brake ever in that car, its a known failure point in 944s.. although I do trust mine for parking I've heard many stories of it failing. Although preserving the clutch in a 944 is probably a good idea considering how they fall apart on everyone, I still dont see how the hand brake really saves it much. You still have to engage it and gas it with your handbrake on and then release.. its just an extra step if anything.

So any Americans want to chime in.. maybe people over here "do" use it? :eek:
MXM said:
Operator said:
Being a 944 owner myself I will add this: do not rely on your hand brake ever in that car, its a known failure point in 944s..

MXM said:
And it doesn't hold well anyway.

Hehe, I should add, I drive 944 as well ;)

Ah yes, the 944 handbrake location isn't what I'd call user friendly. Dad's handbrake is fine but when I was learning hill starts in that car (on my learner's of course, can't drive it now) it felt wierd to be using my right hand and squashing it between the drivers seat and the drivers side door to engage the handbrake.

Of course, having driven the 944T since 1989, it comes naturally to Dad... the bastard :p
When I'm in the UK, I use the handbrake on steep hills. When I'm in North America, I heel/toe it.

I've never thought about it until now. And it's not because I prefer the left hand --- my own LHD car has the handbrake on the left side, between my seat and the door.

Maybe there's something wrong with me.
As I come from the UK I use the handbrake for starting on a hill as I was tought, I find it much more comfortable than riding the clutch.

I know someone who had a Subaru Legacy who burnt his clutch out once riding the clutch on a hill, it was quite heavily loaded with ski gear at the time, loads of smoke, a very bad smell and finally drifting backwards with the engine revving. It was an extreme example of why using the handbrake is better.

I don't think people realise that the poll was intended only for UK drivers, I can't believe there is a bigger proportion of people from the UK who do it the "wrong" way...
teeb said:
Another advantage is the brake light in your rear windscreen. A few people have complained, especially in fog or adverse weather, about drivers who only use their brake pedal when stopped.

That really pisses me off! Lazy **** that enjoy holding their foot down no matter what. Nights with fog/heavy rain amplify all sorts of ilumination. The last thing I need is a big red disco light 20cm in front of me on each crossing. Even worse are the idiots that use fog lamps in city traffic when there's no fog.
^ That's the way to be cool in our (East European countries). 8)

Cool for them = Lame for us. But it is really annyoing indeed. :thumbsdown:
Hmmm . . . I'm not British but maybe this might be useful to some people.

I've never used my handbrake while starting off on an incline.
I just use the heel-toe technique. I use the ball of my right foot for the brake pedal and the heel for the accelerator pedal. Then I use my left foot to feather the clutch pedal for a smooth start.

Nobody ever taught me how to drive a manual though. I just had to get out there and learn by myself. That's why my shifting style can be a bit different from most people.
My post was posed to UK drivers but my poll is actually not intended for any specific driver segment. I'm wondering who, in general, uses the handbrake on a hill method. It really shouldnt matter whether you're in the UK or not right? Hills are hills, maybe there are more of them there, but hills are always inclined last I checked :)

With that said it is funny to think about the things we grow up with that are just inately different. For instance, in a LHD car we shift with our right hand and usually the handbrake is on the right. Although in the 944 it is on the opposite side... just funny to think that RHD drivers shift with their "weak" hand.. impressive too.

Anyway, this is about using a hand brake on a hill not shifting with your weak hand, and I still think its better to use your real brakes (all 4 of them via the pedal) than using your rear brakes with some sort of hand operated device ;)

On a side note: this site is mostly visited by ROW people or what? What are the stats GTV V6? Does anyone know?