Is my manual '02 GTI going to roll away?
December 3, 2007 8:11 AM   Subscribe

Is my manual '02 VW GTI going to roll away? My emergency brake appears to still be working, but all of a sudden it now requires me to pull it up so it's almost vertical in order to feel it engage. Previously, I've never had to yank it up more than a couple inches.

I've already made an appointment to get my car looked at (it's almost due for an oil change anyway), but the earliest I could get an appointment is on Thursday. Meanwhile, I'm a little leary of driving my car. Actually, no - i'm leary of parking my car. I've got visions of the ebrake not holding and my car rolling away across the parking lot, or worse. Obviously, i'm checking that the car's in gear and okay when I leave it (it doesn't move when i try to rock it, or try to push it) but I'm still a little nervous.

Does anyone know what would cause this? Is it a big fix? Should I actually be worried about my car rolling away, or is it all in my head?
posted by cgg to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
E-brakes can slip over time. Frequent use can loosen the tension, though the grade of the incline and amount of gear in the storage area can influence the amount of resistance against inertia.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:18 AM on December 3, 2007

It's normal for emergency brakes to loosen. Park it in gear until your appointment and you will be fine, the car will not, can not, go anywhere. Just remember to start it with the clutch in.
posted by jessamyn at 8:22 AM on December 3, 2007

well, if you're on a steep enough slope your car will roll even if it's in gear. unless you have an automatic and you leave it in park.

as always, if you're parked facing up a slope, park with the wheels turned away from the curb, and if you're facing down, turn them into it. i had a pathfinder with a weak parking break. what i'd do is allow the car to roll unti the wheels made contact with the curb. that way, i'd be sure it couldn't build enough momentum to jump the curb if it did roll.
posted by klanawa at 8:26 AM on December 3, 2007

Best answer: "All the sudden"= something is wrong.

If the handbrake brakes two wheels, it's probably a good bet that your cable (or half of it) has broken or become disconnected. Now there's a bunch of slack as one of the wheels isn't "pulling" on the cable. Expect to pay $150-$300 if it requires replacement.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:32 AM on December 3, 2007

Since your car is a TDI, it has a higher compression engine than it's gasoline-powered counterparts and will offer even more resistance to rolling away while in gear.

That said, a working parking brake is a better option, and yours should be easy to adjust or repair.
posted by OilPull at 8:32 AM on December 3, 2007

Oh, never mind. I see now I mistook GTI with TDI. Sorry 'bout that.
posted by OilPull at 8:33 AM on December 3, 2007

park in gear.
posted by stratastar at 8:36 AM on December 3, 2007

well, if you're on a steep enough slope your car will roll even if it's in gear.

Just put it in reverse if you are pointed downhill, first gear if you are pointed uphill.
posted by Forktine at 8:37 AM on December 3, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks kwanysar - that's kinda along the lines of what I was thinking. Now, if could only get away with only paying $150-300, i'd be happy. (Damn VWs are so freaking expensive to fix...)
posted by cgg at 8:42 AM on December 3, 2007

Unlikely that the cable is broken if it still works. It needs adjustment. It's not good for the transmission to take the continual strain of going into parking mode. Google Groups, or a similar forum, will tell you where and how the adjustment is made--or just crawl under the car and follow the cable. Pretty simple, usually.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:18 AM on December 3, 2007

It's not good for the transmission to take the continual strain of going into parking mode.

I really don't want to set off the whole manual / automatic thing again, but this really isn't the case. The tiny amount of force exerted on the gearbox etc by keeping a car in gear pales into utter insignificance when you look at the forces caused by accelerating or traveling at speed. Keeping it in gear will not cause any appreciable damage to your transmission.

However, it is also true to say that your car can roll away, even if left in gear, if the handbreak fails totally and the hill is steep enough (you can prove this for yourself by sitting in the car on a steep enough gradiant and lifting the handbrake for a bit). Hence it's probably a good idea to get it fixed without too much delay....
posted by prentiz at 10:16 AM on December 3, 2007

Best answer: Park in gear, and make sure the car is in reverse. Reverse gear has the lowest ratio and is the best one to use with no e-brake.

Also, it won't matter if the car is pointed uphill/downhill. Your engine will happily turn both ways while the ignition is off.
posted by sideshow at 10:21 AM on December 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seconding sideshow. My e-brake gave out a few years ago on my manual Sentra, and the guys at Nissan told me to always park it in reverse until the part came in. Never had a problem, even on our VERY steep driveway.
posted by xsquared-1 at 10:30 AM on December 3, 2007

Park in gear, and make sure the car is in reverse.

n'thd. The direction of the slope makes no difference whatsoever, it is the ratio of the gear that makes the difference.

And yes, it is purely the handbrake cable if normal braking seems unaffected. Fixing it may be the cost of a handbrake cable, or just adjustment.
posted by Brockles at 10:31 AM on December 3, 2007

« Older How do I get my Kinesis Ergo PS2 keyboard to work...   |   Recommend a bomb-shelter restaurant in Elkhart... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.