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Auto handbrake or not - Leon Cupra

Jul 13, 2020
2
0
Hi all

First post, please be gentle. I have an 18 reg Leon Cupra, owned from new, before this i had a diesel 184 FR Leon. Its a manual gearbox

I took my car for its 2nd service last week and all was fine, no issues or worries. I got home, parked on my drive, started getting out the car and it rolled back into my garage wall and garage door. Breaking the garage door, but also nicely scratching and denting the car too.

I immediately ran the garage and asked why they had turned my automatic handbrake off and not informed me, and i am holding them responsible for the accident. They did tell me that they would have switched it off during the service. They claimed that the car doesn't have an automatic handbrake and that there is no way for the handbrake to come in, without me pulling the level and also that its my fault for not checking the car before i got out. They said that every time i exit the car i should pull up the "P" lever to engage the handbrake.

Now i can see their argument, i am the responsible person behind the wheel, but conversely, having owner the car for 2 years, i have always been under the impression that it has an automatic handbrake, hence i don't need to pull the "P" lever.

So yesterday i checked:
  • "A" button activated, switch off the ignition, the handbrake seems to come on.
  • Unactivate the "A" button, switch off the ignition, the handbrake doesn't come on.
So it seems to me it does have an automatic handbrake!

Can anyone confirm, as i will chase with them if i think i am right, but if not will drop it.

Thanks in advance :)
 

Damo H

Carbon Snob
Staff member
Moderator
Oct 3, 2012
3,958
2,340
Car Length In Front
It does have an automatic handbrake as you say. When in (A) engages soon as you turn off the ignition.

However as you are the one in charge of the vehicle, I can't see how you can blame the dealer I'm afraid, just bad luck.
 
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Jul 13, 2020
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Thanks Damo, and tend to agree, my argument to them is from a duty of care position they should have told me that they'd switched it off, but from being a responsible driver, i should have checked i wasn't about to roll into my garage door!!
 

Mike the_cupra

Active Member
May 29, 2020
30
15
I vaguely recall this happening to me in my Golf R. I think with an auto it's different, because it always engages the handbrake in park. They had turned the 'auto-hold' off, which clicks in at traffic lights, etc. They always turn the auto lights off too, but this is less problematic. I sympathise with your situation, as I never consciously apply the 'handbrake' anymore, you just put the car into Park. I would plead your case in the hope they repair the car, but I think you might have to deal with the damage yourself, sadly!
 

andycupra

status subject to change
ultimately you are in charge of the vehicle. However, i think you are right that there is a duty of care to inform you if they have altered settings, particularly something this important.
However i am old school and generally hate most things automatic on cars for this very reason. Electronic handbrakes in particular i just cant get to used to or like. Being old school i always leave my car in gear.
If i had an automatic handbrake feature i can see that i might end up liking the lazyness of it, but when it fails or gets deactivated or i use a different car there is clear danger with systems like this.
There are loads of cases of people getting out of their cars with the engine running to do something like check the front door is closed or they stopped to far away from the ticket machine to find the car rolls away. At least there was when they were first introduced, would they now activiate come on if a door is opened and the car is not moving?
 
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RUM4MO

Active Member
Jun 4, 2008
6,160
423
South Scotland
We do tend to be creatures of habit and lots of these features are arranged that you can end up setting them up to suit you - once, so this is always going to be potentially an issue.

I noticed that the lights had been set to OFF in my older daughter's car at service time, so I changed that in case she had not noticed, she obviously had set her handbrake back to auto - maybe after discovering that it was set OFF.
There was a time when I read on a motoring forum that one dealership boasted about fitting 2 bits of sticky tape to the driver's seat so that the car was handed back with the seat in the original position, then they removed the tape - doing that is not asking for the impossible either - jumping into a hire car you are expected to get everything the way you want or like it, jumping back into your own car - that should never require doing once you have set it to suit you, so maybe just too easy to get caught out!
 

Mr Pig

Active Member
Jun 17, 2015
1,570
454
I'm sorry you're bashed your car but no way the dealer is responsible. You're driving the car, you are responsible for making sure the hand brake is on, end off. I don't like these automatic features and I particularly dislike these handbrakes but you can't get around it. Unless the system itself fails, you are responsible for checking it is set correctly.
 
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BoomerBoom

Active Member
Jun 1, 2018
376
129
When I got mine I thought it was a neat feature, until the first time I drove another car and forgot about setting the manual handbrake.

Since then I've still enjoyed the automatic hold and release feature in mine, but now I make a habit of pulling the P lever every time I park - that way avoids any embarrassment.
 
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CupraGeezer

Active Member
May 11, 2018
262
108
I'm with @Mr Pig and @andycupra on this. Electronic handbrakes are a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. On top of that, they have all sorts of failure modes that don't exist in manual handbrakes and are much less reliable. I'm not a luddite by any means but manual handbrakes have worked perfectly well for over 100 years.
 
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Mr Pig

Active Member
Jun 17, 2015
1,570
454
Electronic handbrakes are a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. On top of that, they have all sorts of failure modes that don't exist in manual handbrakes and are much less reliable.
Exactly. They are a terrible idea with no real benefit for the user and lots of down sides. There should be more independent research into new car features before manufacturers are allowed to put them into cars and bad ideas which negatively impact safety should be banned.
 

Damo H

Carbon Snob
Staff member
Moderator
Oct 3, 2012
3,958
2,340
Car Length In Front
Exactly. They are a terrible idea with no real benefit for the user and lots of down sides. There should be more independent research into new car features before manufacturers are allowed to put them into cars and bad ideas which negatively impact safety should be banned.
Pretty sure they're not a terrible idea, just because you don't like it or want it ;)

Benefits:
No stretched cable by people being over zealous applying the handbrake as they don't know any better.
Ensures doesn't release when the brakes are hot because people who don't know better have not allowed things to cool down on the final bit of the drive back, if they've been ragging it.
Potentially less mechanical parts to go wrong, although admittedly their maybe more electronic parts to go wrong.
And that ignores the general benefits of it auto applying, linked to hill hold etc etc.

However, it is like a lot of things, improvements are made for peoples convenience. A lot of those things people didn't like, are now taken for granted by the larger population.

After being sceptical of it when I had the 280, I now personally think its a great feature. I haven't forgot to apply the handbrake in other cars I have driven because of it.

I'd say this is one feature that won't make people any worse at driving. But there are plenty of other features that have been created in the name of 'convenience' that have reduced the quality of people driving.

Car safety is probably the biggest culprit. I wonder how many accidents would happen if all the cars had their driver airbag swapped out for a sharp pointy spike for example ;)
 
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Lozzy15

Mods mods mods
Staff member
Moderator
Mar 24, 2015
384
201
Ilkeston, Derbyshire
I'd say this is one feature that won't make people any worse at driving. But there are plenty of other features that have been created in the name of 'convenience' that have reduced the quality of people driving.
That point especially is too true. I work on the roads and see people on the verge of crashing on a daily basis. Not necessarily because of being distracted either but due to total failure of driving skill in most cases!

In regards to the original post, as said yeah it is automatic, but honestly I can't see the garage giving in on this one.
 
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RUM4MO

Active Member
Jun 4, 2008
6,160
423
South Scotland
When I got mine I thought it was a neat feature, until the first time I drove another car and forgot about setting the manual handbrake.

Since then I've still enjoyed the automatic hold and release feature in mine, but now I make a habit of pulling the P lever every time I park - that way avoids any embarrassment.
I can see that happening to some people, as far as my mate's wife is concerned no user input is now required wrt the handbrake, and that is not very good! I hope she never has to drive any older cars than their VW T-Roc.
 
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Kirky

Active Member
Apr 10, 2019
996
467
I've not had a manual handbrake in my main car since 2010. Doesn't mean I forget to put a handbrake on in a different car. Same way I can still ride a motorbike when I ride one and don't get the controls mixed up.
Nothing wrong with electronic hand brakes.
 

andycupra

status subject to change
it's cheaper. thats the point. they sell it as convenience, much like the touch screens that are sold as progress but are appauling to use on the move and require you to look at what you are doing on the screen (rather than the road). but they are cheaper to make than mechanical parts and buttons. but they charge to loads when they go wrong.
The electronic handbrake is all about cost and convenience. Safety, i am not sure is the driver. afterall, why is automatic handbrake application not the default, and why can it be toggled anyway.
oh and my car has a manual handbrake and hill assist, so electronic handbrake and such things are not bound.

I still don't agree that the modern approach is NOT to leave a car in gear when parked. I do, and always will.
 
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Astrix92

Active Member
Aug 30, 2018
4
0
I've not had a manual handbrake in my main car since 2010. Doesn't mean I forget to put a handbrake on in a different car. Same way I can still ride a motorbike when I ride one and don't get the controls mixed up.
Nothing wrong with electronic hand brakes.
I guess it depends how often you are switching between vehicles with and without the electronic handbrake.
If you swap over once in a blue moon you are much more likely to forget.
 

Mr Pig

Active Member
Jun 17, 2015
1,570
454
Pretty sure they're not a terrible idea, just because you don't like it or want it
Pretty sure that are. You listed benefits. Here are a few problems:

They are less reliable. That's not a guess. Talk to a mechanic, they don't speak very highly of them. One said to me 'They feck up all the time'.

When they do go wrong, they are harder and more expensive to fix. If you want to fix it yourself you're dealing with a more complex caliper which you can't manually wind back. It's an electro-mechanical system rather than a fairly simple mechanical one.

But the real problems are user interface.

A manual handbrake can be operated without looking at it with tactile conformation. You know if the brake is off, on and even how hard the brake is on by feel. The switch of an electric brake gives no feedback and required an LED tell-tale to let you confirm that the brake is activated, which you have to look down to see. Anything which takes your eyes inside the car unnecessarily is not an upgrade.

Electric brakes are slower in operation. You can drop a manual handbrake off instantly at exactly the time of your choosing. Electric ones are much slower as the motors take time to wind back making it difficult to time the transfer of power, when picking away up hill for example. Less of a problem in an automatic but don't get me started on them!

Also, you never have full control over the brake. What is actually happening is that you ask the computer if it could please let the brake off, and it might disagree with you. Depending on the car, it may not release the brake if a door is open for instance. In practice, this being second guessed by the car leads to confusion and lack of confidence that it will do what you want when you want it done. Or conversely, overconfidence that the car will make the right choice.

You have no control over how hard the brake is applied. To cover all eventualities, an electric brake has to put the brake on very hard every time. Most of the time you don't need the brake on that hard and only really crank the brake on when parked on steep hills. Putting it on really hard all the time puts more strain on the parts and makes the brakes more likely to freeze on it winter.

Less feedback in a fault or misuse situation. If a manual handbrake fails, you feel it. You know the brake is not working correctly. An electric brake leads you to trust the car with control of the brake so if there is a fault you are less likely to pick up on it. With the car directly controlling the brake instead of you there is more chance of a disconnect between what you expect and what has actually happened, which the OP knows all about!

For a real driver certain things lead to satisfaction in a car. The feeling that you are in control of the car, the car is effectively communicating what it is doing and the performance of the car closely matches your desires and expectations. Electric handbrakes are compromised on all three. Which is why electric handbrakes are crap!
 

Peller

2018 Cupra 290 without the copper bits
Mar 29, 2016
489
143
Edinburgh
There is two stages of automatic handbrake. If you park on a flat surface and flick the switch obviously the car will hold.

If you park on an incline then you should hold the brake pedal fully down then engage the switch.

You should feel the pedal 'sink' to give the braking system maximum hold.

I don't tend to use the full braking feature on a flat surface as it can cause the pads to stick therefore you'll get a nasty clunk when setting off.
 
Last edited:

daniel_ley

Active Member
Mar 3, 2018
73
27
Dudley
I've not had a manual handbrake in my main car since 2010. Doesn't mean I forget to put a handbrake on in a different car. Same way I can still ride a motorbike when I ride one and don't get the controls mixed up.
Nothing wrong with electronic hand brakes.
Agreed, I think they're a great feature. I won't ever go back to a car now without one!
 

Mr Pig

Active Member
Jun 17, 2015
1,570
454
There is two stages of automatic handbrake.
I've had two cars with electric brakes and didn't know this. How many other users are the same? Yet another operational quirk that's far from intuitive or obvious? Simply flicking the lever does not give you full brake strength?!
 
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