With my years of testing brand-new cars, I’ve witnessed the resurgence of cars equipped with manual handbrakes to electronic parking brakes – most especially in recent years. While the importance (and reliability) of e-parking brakes is arguable at this point, we can’t deny the convenience and design freedom that electronic switches and buttons bring to the table.
But like what Robin is to Batman, electronic parking brakes usually come with a sidekick: Auto Brake Hold (ABH).
Auto Brake Hold, or in some instances like in Subarus, Auto Vehicle Hold (AVH), is a feature that automatically keeps the brakes engaged whenever you come to a full stop.
I would like to emphasize the word ‘usually’ as not all e-parking brakes are partnered with Auto Brake Hold, but all cars with ABH automatically come with e-parking brakes. Moreover, ABH isn’t exclusive to vehicles with automatic transmission; the Honda Civic Type R, equipped with a 6-speed manual, surprisingly comes with Auto Brake Hold and, wait for it, cruise control.
So why am I fussing about the Auto Brake Hold feature again?
As someone who lives in Metro Manila, specifically in Parañaque, frequenting the traffic-laden stretch of Doña Soledad Avenue is unfortunately a chore. If there’s a real Highway to Hell, that must be it – except that it’s narrow, riddled with irresponsible tricycles and motorcycles, and has a weird traffic scheme. Fair enough.
Imagine leaving your house at 8:00 am for a 9:30 am meeting in Makati only to find yourself glooming in frustration amid the standstill traffic at 9:15 am (yes, that happened). Even when driving a car with an automatic tranny, taking this road is tiring and cumbersome to the legs.
Good thing, the car that I was driving then was equipped with an Auto Brake Hold. That’s when I came to a realization – Auto Brake Hold system is an understated MVP of Metro Manila driving.
In stop-and-go situations like what I experience daily, I don’t need to keep the pressure on the brake pedal to keep the car from moving. All I have to do is make a full stop and lift my foot from the pedal. It’s that simple. I don’t even need to disengage the gear away from Drive or engage the e-parking brake. When I need to move, I just have to press on the accelerator again.
Now, will the prolonged pressure on the brakes affect the longevity of the gears? Not necessarily. Auto Brake Hold feature is designed to put an adequate amount of pressure into the system, enough to prevent the car from moving forward without damaging the gears. You know, for every smart feature created, a team of equally smart people is behind the engineering and design. I doubt they missed adding a failsafe mechanism into the mix.
Besides, after around 5 to 10 minutes, the system automatically switches to Park and disengages the brake hold, which appears to be the threshold of keeping brake pedals continuously engaged.
Truth be told, Auto Brake Hold systems still aren’t a necessity, but as with most high-tech features, having one is a luxury that your money can buy in modern cars these days. So don’t be a tech snob and appreciate that convenient features are now available as options in the local market.