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How does Electronic Parking Brake Work?

Here's where you can find out all about the electronic parking brake (EPB)
In this article, you’ll learn all about the electronic parking brake (EPB)

What is Electronic Parking Brake (EPB)?

When packing your vehicle, there are two ways to make it stay put; either shift the manual transmission into gear or set a parking brake. Mostly, a driver does both, but either can do the job.

To many people, electronic parking brake (EBP) is a new feature in their car, therefore knowing how the system works can go a long way when conducting a system repair.

Primarily, the traditional handbrake has a straightforward mechanism; when you pull the level up and the cables, the rear brakes are pulled squeezing the brake drum.

An electronic parking brake replaces this mechanism with an electronic one. Basically, this means that your car will stay intact with moving backward when parked.

In essence, the EPB system has been there since early 2000. Initially, they arrived with little fanfare, but today, there are solid reasons why almost every automotive manufacturers are adopting the new technology.

The improved system makes controlling the brake operation optimal and in accordance with the gradient if the road, the car is stopped.

How does Electronic Parking brake works?

Unlike the traditional handbrake where the driver pulls the level, in EBP the driver presses a switch. The switch then sends a command to the electronic brake module.

The module senses that the parking brakes need to be operated then sends a command to actuators in the brake calipers.

Thus, the brake pads are forced on the brake disc thereby restricting the wheels movement.

The module senses that the parking brakes need to be operated then sends a command to actuators in the brake calipers.

Due to the use of the electronic mechanism, the operation of this system is instantaneous and undoubtfully very efficient. In fact, you can easily hear a reassuring whirring of the motor as soon as the button is pulled or pressed.

Basically, this means that the brakes are more reliable than the traditional one since there is no mechanical connection involved.

Different types of Electronic Parking Brake

There are different types of Electronic Parking Brake. The most common includes:

The Cable-Pull systems

The cable operated parking brakes are essentially a development of the traditional levels.

As soon as the driver presses the switch, the cable is pulled using the internally threaded gears, squeezing the brake drum. Typically, these are not very common, but, you are likely to find this system in Lexus lS 460, Jaguar X-type, some BMW models and lang Rovers.

Electronically-hydraulic brake caliper system

This type is not fully electronic, and its primarily designed for the use of a hydraulic brake system. Its mechanism is the same as any other EPB, but in this model, there is a hydraulic pressure generation, electronic control and pressure regulation in one.

Unlike the traditional model, this type is electronically locked without the need for hydraulics pressure as soon as the switch activates the parking brake.

Full-electric drive-by-wire.

These are a fully electric system using a motor and a gearbox. The two apply pressure on the pad and hence on the brake disc.

In essence, the key component in these types of EPB is the parking brake latch that prevents pressure in the piston from rotating the motor, therefore keeping the brake applied.


  • The response time for EPB is very short.
  • EPB also has some other automated functions.
  • The operational is quite reliable.
  • It improves the vehicle control event when at a standstill condition on a slope.


  • Given its convenience, the system is rather costly.
  • Besides, you will need a professional to have the brake pads changed.
  • By themselves, the EBP system isn’t strong enough to stop vehicles quickly, but they will definitely hold it.

The bottom line

Other than the fact the system is costly, but they are very convenient while comparing to traditional cumbersome levels.

The tiny switch will free up the drive space, and give an important convenience such as more space for the cup holder or audio system. It is definitely, a simple, but a very clever system for any car model.

When conducting a repair, it is important to know that working on them is not only a matter of convenience but also safety.

Read the car manufacturers manual or at the system suppliers’ website and understand your car’s other systems as well. Remember the key drivers for EPB is functions, comfort, and safety.

Tim MillerFounderOBD Advisor

I’m Tim Miller from Denver, Colorado. I’m the founder of obdadvisor.com, an automotive blog about "Auto Diagnostic Tools and Repair Guides". My fan page is facebook.com/autozikcom. I've been working as an automotive mechanic and blogger for over 10 years writing articles to share my experiences and expertise.

Web: https://www.obdadvisor.comEmail: [email protected]
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