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Every summer here in Branson we get several calls from visitors to the area for vehicles

stuck in gear or the emergency brake stuck on. Most people are not aware that they

should always use their emergency brake or more appropriately defined as a parking

brake. What difference does it make if you use it all the time or not?

First reason for always using the parking brake is when a vehicle is parked on a hill and

the automatic transmission is placed in park, the only thing holding the vehicle from

zooming down the hill is a piece, called a parking pawl, about the size of your small

pinky finger. Do you really want to trust a 3000+ lb vehicle to something that small?

Another reason is that the parking pawl could get stuck and require a tow truck to come

out and move the vehicle into an at rest condition in order to get the vehicle out of park.

The average cost for this is about $75 - $100 not to mention the possibility of causing a

very expensive transmission overhaul.

The last reason is for the parking brake cables. If the parking brake is seldom used, the

cables could form corrosion or rust inside the cable. The first time you go to use it, the

cable could freeze into place and cause the parking brake to remain on. This also

typically results in an expensive service call. We have also seen this condition cause a

great deal of damage to the rear brakes. Once we even had a vehicle catch on fire due to

frozen brakes.

The moral of the story is to always use your parking brake even if you are parking on flat


Happy Motoring

Jeff Bain, AAM

ASE Master Certified Technician

Any BODY’S Garage

(417) 973-0333

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