What is the Difference Between a Parking Brake and a Service Brake?

Parking Brake and Service Brake

You’ve likely heard the terms parking brake and service brake being used interchangeably when referring to a specific brake system in a vehicle. Although they have different terminologies, the purpose is generally the same – to stop the vehicle from moving.

The question is: what’s the difference between the two and what are their main functions? When bringing your car in for car brake services, it’s an advantage to know how these two systems operate. We explain this in detail below.

What are the service brakes?

Service brakes are the foot pedals that every driver uses when operating a vehicle. This system used hydraulics as the power source to bring the car to a gentle and smooth stop when applied.

A hydraulic brake line is connected to the brake pedal, which activates the pistons in the calliper to effectively stop the vehicle. The effects of heat, corrosion, and normal wear and tear can cause these components to seize.

What are the parking brakes?

A parking brake, also known as an emergency brake or e-brake, is designed to keep the vehicle secure when parked. This mechanism can be found as a hand-operated lever, a pull handle located near the steering wheel, a foot pedal close to the other pedals, or a push-button.

When the parking brake is activated, steel cables that are attached to the parking brake are pulled and a lever compresses the brake shoes to stop the vehicle. Automatic transmissions are typically used in an emergency or to prevent the car from moving when parked on a steep hill. On cars that have a manual transmission, the parking brake must be applied each time the vehicle is parked.

Key takeaways

The name that a particular brake system has depends on its intended use, but both are critical in ensuring the safety of the driver and passengers in any vehicle. Service brakes and parking brakes must be in good working condition and the best way to ensure that is to maintain regular car brake services.

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