Let’s start by first understanding the role of the hydro e-brake. Its most common use is in the sport of drifting, where the hydraulic e-brake is far more powerful and faster than the standard factory fitted cable handbrake. The ability to lock up the rear tires quickly makes it a valuable addition to any Drifters set up. Whereas in the case of Rally racing, the e-brake is there to counter the understeer found in front-wheel-drive cars.
There are several reasons why the vast majority of factory-produced cars don’t come with hydraulic e-brakes fitted – that’s not to say manufacturers haven’t looked at the concept. Aston Martin, for example, the iconic British brand, did consider it as part of the Drift package they were going to add to their DBX SUV. However, without getting too technical, we understand there were concerns that because of the higher center-of-gravity, the use of this type of braking system at high speed could cause the vehicle to tip over.
All of which is understandable, but there are benefits to having a hydraulic e-brake installed over your standard handbrake, the most crucially being; it’s easy to reach. As often, e-brake levers are in a vertical position for ease of use, with the driver pulling back on the lever to operate the brake rather than upwards, and secondly, it springs back on its own – it doesn’t lock, so all you have to do is let it go, and the brake is released.
Which is all well and good but don’t forget an e-brake that doesn’t lock isn’t going to do you much good when parking on a hill now is it? Also, because of their design, they won’t usually fit within your existing factory interior trim. In almost every situation, you’ll have to make some adjustments to the original trim, but it’s not that big of a deal.
As with any modification you’re considering undertaking, there are always questions. So what we’ve tried to do here is answer the most common questions asked with regards to the fitting of a hydraulic e-brake and to equip you with enough knowledge to help you make an informed decision on whether a hydraulic e-brake is right for you or not.
So how does the hydraulic brake work compared to an existing handbrake
Your typical factory installed handbrake is an actuated cable operated ratchet mechanism than can be pulled by hand or pressed like a pedal depending on the style of your car. In either case, it is there primarily to work as a parking brake for the rear wheels, not as an emergency brake, or to stop or slow the vehicle once it’s in motion.
The hydraulic e-brakes give you more mechanical advantage over a cable-actuated hand brake. With the relatively easy pull of the brake lever, hydraulic fluid delivers a more consistent pressure force to the rear dual brake calipers, which by doing so, fully locks up the speeding rear wheels and causes the car to slide or drift sideways.
Can I use the hydraulic brake instead of my parking brake
No, if you are thinking about fitting an hydraulic e-brake it’s crucial to remember, a hydraulic e-brake isn’t a substitute for the existing factory fitted handbrake – it’s not an either-or situation. Plus, to stay street legal, you must retain the initially installed parking brake.
Do I need to install and run new brakes lines when I fit my new hydro e-brake
Some Hydraulic handbrake makers design into their mechanism a way to attach the original cable(s) to the new system others don’t. So you will need to check before purchasing.
I like the idea of having an e-brake, but I'm concerned that fitting one will damage the interior trim in my car
Unfortunately, you’re between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. The hydraulic handbrake is very much an aftermarket installation, so it’s very likely you will need to make some alterations to your trim, and some cutting may well be required
Will a hydraulic handbrake void my warranty
We would have to think that the answer would be resounding – Yes. Mainly if for no other reason than you will be either cutting into or replacing the original brake lines. Plus, you will be impacting on the rear brakes in such a way that would never come under manufacturers’ specified use.
What material is the e-brake handle and unit made from, and how long is the brake lever
Typically most e-brake systems are made from a mixture of lightweight CNC machined aluminum and mild steel. The brake levers do come in various lengths, from around 11” to 13″
Will a hydro e-brake fit on any car
Yes. You can fit e-brakes to most factory-produced cars. However, they are ideal for track racing, drifting, and rally-designed cars.
How hard is it to install a hydro e-brake
We would strongly recommend that unless you have the mechanical expertise and correct fitting equipment, you have the e-brake professionally installed.
When I buy my e-brake unit, is there anything else I need to buy before I can start the fitting
In most cases, you need to purchase all of the parts separately to complete the fitting. Including; Brake lines, accessories for the cylinder, T fittings to join the brake lines, brake fluid, gear oil reservoir tank. However, some units do come with a number of the parts mentioned. You will need to check at the time of purchasing what comes with your e-brake pack.