Do you know the hidden brake function?  Push things hard when you stop at a traffic light

Hill holder, i.e. hill start assistant. In only a few cars does the driver have the option to activate or deactivate it, and even that is usually hidden somewhere in the car’s settings, so there’s no point in searching for the appropriate button. Its existence must be verified in practice.

The principle of operation of the hill stand is simple. When we stand on a hill and release our foot from the brake, the system will maintain pressure in the brake system for a few seconds. Thanks to this, the car will not move and we can easily put it in first gear and start moving. In such cars, there is no need to use the handbrake to move smoothly up the hill.

A sort of extension of the Hill Holder, but with a much broader application, is the Auto Hold function. It also maintains pressure in the braking system, but it does so for almost any period of time. When the function is activated, it is indicated by an appropriate light on the instrument panel (this may be the word “HOLD” or the letter “A” in a circle, similar to an exclamation mark in a circle when the handbrake is engaged).

Auto Hold has many applications because it works regardless of the presence of a slope. It prevents the car from rolling when you stop and is automatically deactivated when you want to move. This solution is especially appreciated by owners of cars with automatic transmission. It allows you to take your foot off the brake and the car will not start rolling. Invaluable when you’re stuck in a traffic jam or at long traffic lights.

Activation of the Auto Hold function may vary depending on the manufacturer’s standards. We usually run it:

  • The button next to the electric handbrake switch
  • In the car settings
  • By pressing the brakes hard

In the first case, for the Auto Hold system to work, the seat belts must be fastened. When driving, you can usually turn it on at any time, but if you’re crawling around a parking lot, you’ll usually be asked to stop and hit the brakes.

The second case involves finding the appropriate option in the car’s settings menu – some cars block access to the car’s settings menu while driving. You must then stop in a safe place, and some cars with automatic transmission also require switching to P. In each of the above cases, when we stop, we will see a light on the indicators that Auto Hold is activated and we can safely release the brake pedal.

The third option may seem hidden because nowhere will we find confirmation that our car has this function. There is also no option to turn it on or off. We turn it on by firmly pressing the brake pedal after stopping the car. This way, we can always decide each time whether we want the function to run or not at a given moment. If we approach an intersection and immediately pull off, we simply keep our foot on the brake. When you stop at a traffic light, simply press the brake to activate Auto Hold and the car stops to await further commands.

Moving your car using the Auto Hold function is very easy. If we have an automatic transmission, all you have to do is press the gas and the car will start. If we use a manual gearbox, we start in the traditional way – we put the car in gear, release the clutch and simultaneously press the accelerator.

In either case, the car will only release the brakes when it is ready to move forward. This is especially convenient for cars with a manual gearbox, because when starting uphill, we don’t have to worry about applying the handbrake ourselves and being afraid that the car will start reversing. Auto Hold will only turn off when it “feels” that the car will move forward and will not start rolling back.

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