You’ve loaded up the truck, secured all your possessions for the big move, and you’re sitting in the driver’s seat ready to go. But there’s one important step you need to take before shifting into drive – disengaging that parking brake! Releasing the parking brake properly is crucial for ensuring a smooth and safe journey in your U-Haul.
Many first-time U-Haul renters overlook this vital part of the pre-drive routine. But driving any significant distance with the parking brake still on can lead to brake damage, reduced fuel economy, and potentially hazardous situations on the road. Avoid headaches later by learning the right parking brake release process now. We’ll walk you through it step-by-step.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide:
1. Ensure truck is in park
2. Locate parking brake pedal on left side of brake pedal
3. Press pedal firmly until you hear a “click” sound indicating release
4. Ease foot off slowly.
5. Verify brake is released by rolling truck slightly before driving.
Locate the Parking Brake and Put the Truck in Park
The first thing you need to do is ensure the truck is securely in park, with your foot on the main brake pedal. Now look down and to your left to find the separate parking brake pedal. In most manual transmission U-Haul trucks, you’ll see two pedals side-by-side – the one on the far left is the parking brake.
If you’re driving an automatic model, there may just be one lone pedal for the parking brake located left of the brake. Refer to your owner’s manual if you have any trouble spotting it. The parking brake needs to be disengaged before you attempt to shift or put any pressure on the gas.
Apply Pressure Until You Hear the Click
When you’ve identified the parking brake pedal, firmly press your foot down on it until you both feel and hear it click. This clicking noise indicates the parking mechanism has released. The parking brake uses a ratcheting lock that holds the brake pads against the rotor – the click is the sound of that ratchet releasing its grip when you apply pressure to the pedal.
Keep your foot pressed on the pedal for 5-10 seconds once you hear the initial click to ensure full release. You’ll likely hear the ratcheting and clicking continue as you hold pressure.
Ease Off the Pedal Slowly
At this point the parking brake should be disengaged from the rotor and wheel brakes. You can slowly ease your foot back off the pedal to complete the release process. Letting the pedal up quickly or abruptly could cause it to re-engage, so lift gently.
If you attempt to pull away and the truck doesn’t move or responds sluggishly, the parking brake may not have fully released. Just repeat the process by pressing the pedal down until it clicks again.
Verify Full Release Before Driving
Before you shift gears and start rolling, confirm that the parking brake disengagement was successful. Put light pressure on the gas to gently attempt moving the truck forward or backward just an inch or two. If it responds and rolls freely, you know your parking brake is off.
If you meet firm resistance or hear any grinding noises, stop and troubleshoot. Either repeat the release process or consult the owner’s manual if difficulties persist. Never try to just power through and drive any real distance with the parking brake potentially still on or not operating smoothly.
What Not to Do When Releasing the Parking Brake
Now that you know the proper step-by-step process for disengaging that finicky U-Haul parking brake, let’s also highlight what NOT to do:
- Don’t just press the pedal halfway or gently – you need to push it all the way down to hear the click. Anything less risks incomplete release.
- Don’t forget to put your U-Haul fully in park with your foot firmly on the main brake before attempting to release the parking brake.
- Don’t let up on the parking brake pedal abruptly once disengaged – ease it up gradually.
- Don’t just assume the parking brake is off – take a moment to verify by gently trying to pull forward before you hit the road.
Why Releasing the Parking Brake Matters
You might be wondering why it’s so critical to ensure you’ve disengaged that parking brake every time you drive your rental moving truck. Here are some key reasons:
- Driving any significant distance with the parking brake even partially on can overheat the rear brakes and rotors, reducing their effectiveness and lifespan. It causes premature wear.
- It also places added strain on the drivetrain and can reduce gas mileage since the engine works harder against the resistance of the still-engaged brake.
Most importantly, rolling down the highway for miles unaware that your parking brake hasn’t properly released poses safety hazards:
- Locked-up rear brakes could severely reduce control and handling if you need to swerve or brake suddenly.
- Slow response time from the back brakes being heat-strained could increase stopping distance.
- The parking brake could give out suddenly from overheating, especially on steep declines.
So don’t chance it! Taking that minute or two to double check full parking brake release protects your rental truck, ensures optimal driving performance, and most critically, prevents dangerous situations on the road.
Troubleshooting Common Parking Brake Problems
Despite your best efforts, you may encounter some hiccups at times getting that stubborn U-Haul parking brake to disengage smoothly. Here are some of the most common issues and what to do about them:
Problem: The parking brake pedal is stuck and won’t release when pushed
Solution: If the pedal seems jammed and won’t budge at all when pressed, first verify the truck is fully in park before attempting further release. If it still won’t move, try rocking the truck gently back and forth by shifting between drive and reverse while pushing the pedal to loosen it up. If it fails to release after continued effort, consult the rental center staff for assistance.
Problem: You hear a grinding noise when releasing the parking brake
Solution: Grinding sounds from the wheel area as you disengage the parking brake typically means the brake pads and rotors have become misaligned or worn down. The friction is likely indicative of bigger issues. Do NOT attempt to just power through and drive any real distance. Have a professional inspect and service the parking brake system before continuing your move.
Problem: The parking brake warning light on the dash stays on after release
Solution: If your U-Haul truck is equipped with a parking brake warning indicator light, and it remains illuminated even after you’ve gone through the full release motions, there could be underlying problems with the brake control system itself. The computer may not be getting the right disengagement signal. Again, play it safe and have the parking brake electronics serviced to determine the malfunction before hitting the road. Don’t override that warning light!
Table of Common Parking Brake Issues and Solutions
|Parking brake pedal is stuck
|Try rocking the truck back and forth slightly while pressing down on the pedal. If the pedal remains stuck, seek professional assistance.
|Brake release produces a grinding noise
|This could indicate a worn-out parking brake mechanism. Seek professional inspection and repair before driving.
|Parking brake warning light remains illuminated
|This indicates a potential malfunction in the parking brake system. Consult a qualified mechanic to diagnose and address the issue.
Quick Tips for Parking Brake Success
To wrap up your parking brake education, here are some handy tips to commit to memory guaranteeing smooth release operation in your U-Haul:
- Give yourself plenty of time – Don’t rush the pre-drive process. Releasing an unfamiliar truck parking brake takes practice.
- Ask for help if needed – Don’t hesitate to request assistance from rental center staff with any aspects of the parking brake system you find confusing. It’s better to ask questions upfront than end up dealing with problems miles down the road!
- Regularly apply and release – If you know cold weather is coming, make it a habit of engaging and disengaging that parking brake at every stop during your move to prevent freeze up. This keeps the cable and mechanism lubricated.
By thoroughly understanding correct parking brake release procedures unique to U-Haul rental trucks, carefully avoiding common mistakes, responding appropriately to any release difficulties, and utilizing some pro tips, you’ll keep your move safe while keeping brake repair bills at bay!
FAQs: Releasing the U-Haul Parking Brake
What could happen if I drive any significant distance without releasing the parking brake?
Continuing to drive for miles with the parking brake on, even partially engaged, risks overheating the brakes, damaging the rotors, reducing system performance and lifespan, impacting vehicle handling if sudden braking is required, decreasing gas mileage, and potentially experiencing complete brake failure, especially on steep declines.
Is it okay to just leave the parking brake engaged while the truck is parked for an extended period?
No, the parking brake is designed for brief parking only – not leaving it engaged indefinitely. Doing so risks brake lock up, rotor warping, stuck brake calipers, frozen cables, and other mechanical issues which can disable the truck.
How can I prevent parking brake freeze up when operating the rental truck in cold winter temperatures?
Frost and ice accumulation can prevent the parking brake cable and pedal mechanism from operating smoothly. To reduce winter freeze risk, make sure to regularly engage and release the parking brake pedal completely while driving to keep the system active. Also avoid parking the truck outdoors if possible to limit exposure to snow and ice.
When releasing a stubborn parking brake pedal, what’s the safe way to rock the truck back and forth to help get it unstuck?
With your foot firmly on the main brake pedal and transmission in park, shift gently between drive and reverse while continuing to press down on the released parking brake. DO NOT accelerate rapidly or remove your foot from the main brake to avoid loss of control. Work the pedal loose gently before attempting to drive.
There you have it – a full run down on properly releasing the U-Haul parking brake plus answers to some frequently asked questions. By understanding correct procedures and what to avoid, your move is sure to go off without a hitch…or should we say without a lock! Safe trails!