How does a handbrake Work in a Truck – Handbrake Easily Explained

How does a handbrake work? If you do not know about that, then this guide is for you. The braking system is an essential component of a truck that reduces speed, enabling you to stop. A typical truck has two braking segments – the front and the handbrake. Everyone knows the functions of the hydraulic front brake, but what of the handbrake?

What is a Truck Handbrake?

The handbrake can be called emergency or e-brake and is either mechanical or foot-operated. The handbrake connects to the rear wheels through a metallic cable. Many think that the hydraulic power system connects the handbrake to the power terrain. Such thought makes sense because the handbrake will take your truck to a standstill, even if the hydraulic brakes fail.

In most trucks, you will find the handbrake next to the driver’s seat in between the two front seats or at the left side of the brake and gas pedals. 

How does a handbrake Work

The handbrake in a truck is made to bypass the hydraulic braking system if they fail and you critically need to bring your truck to a halt. Applying the handbrake will enhance the pulling power through the metallic cable connecting the inner and outer components. It has an equalizer whose primary role is to split the power equally between the brakes.

In many trucks, you will realize that the disc or drum brakes connect to a mechanical lever. The caliper piston is connected to an extra lever and corkscrew if it is the disc brake. If you pull the brake, the lever will force the corkscrew against the piston. In case it is a drum brake, the metallic cable is directly attached to the lever at the brake shoes.

You have already known how a handbrake works. Never apply it when the foot brake is functional because it will interfere with the brake balance, making it hard to control your truck.

Functions of a Handbrake

How does a handbrake work? Knowing how a handbrake works compels us to know its functions and whether you can use it as an alternative to the hydraulic brake. The primary role of a handbrake is to remain engaged in parking mode until you push the release button, and this will prevent your truck from rolling when parked on sloping ground.

It also comes in handy to stop your truck if the hydraulic brake system fails. When driving and you realize that your brakes have become unresponsive, consider using the handbrake.

If you have a modern truck, you will have only to use the handbrake when parking since the systems in these trucks are very efficient and reliable. Modern trucks have sophisticated mechanisms like dual-circuit hydraulics and the low-brake fluid sensor, ensuring that your braking system is operational.


The handbrake in a truck comes in handy occasionally, and many usually use it when parking. After taking time to read this guide, you now understand how necessary the handbrake is, especially when the hydraulic brake fails and you are in dire need of stopping your truck. Inappropriate usage of the handbrake can also be dangerous to you and other road users.

How Do You Adjust A Handbrake In a Truck Easily

How do you adjust a handbrake of a truck? Most trucks have the drum braking system at the rear wheels and the handbrakes operating directly on the brake shoes. When having problems with the handbrake, consider checking the cable before anything else. This cable might be attached under the belly of your truck.

How Do You Adjust A Handbrake In a Truck

If you are an amateur learning some stuff about the vehicle, then one of the questions you could be asking yourself is how do you adjust a handbrake of a truck? You need to jack up the rear end of your truck and follow the cable from the handbrake as you check for physical signs of damage. To effectively assess the cable, have someone in the truck operate the handbrake as you watch how it moves.

Check the Shoes and Adjust Them

4WD trucks have a small auxiliary drum brake mounted inside the brake disc. It has a pair of brake shoes similar to the drum brake. The shoes press against the drums. These shoes have a star wheel adjuster. The handbrake cable adjuster takes the remaining slack if the star wheel adjuster is used up.

You have to rotate the brake shoes to adjust them. Rotating will enable you to determine the lining left. If there is an excellent lining, use a screwdriver to turn the star wheel adjuster until you feel the wheel is locked.

If the cable needs to be adjusted, consider doing it at the U-shaped yoke or on the cable or the rod by using an adjuster nut.

Check the Shoes

After confirming the condition of the cable, consider checking the adjustment. Ensure you adjust the handbrake in all the disc systems in both parts. To adjust the handbrake cable effectively, consider adjusting the brake mechanism first. You have to locate the handbrake adjuster. While doing this, ensure the cable seats properly as they pass through the brake shoes.

Locate the adjustment access slot around the brake drum part of the disc assembly.

Star Wheel Adjuster

Look for the star wheel when the shoes are in good condition. The star wheel adjuster is located at the six o’clock position. To effectively work on the star wheel adjuster, consider lubricating it and its surrounding with oil. Doing this will give you an easy time to work on it.

After the star wheel adjuster has received adequate oil, consider turning it using a heavy screwdriver. Rest the screwdriver on the edge slot as you lever it against the arms of the star wheel. Keep turning the wheel until you feel the rear disc is wholly locked and it can no longer move.

When working on the star wheel adjuster, you might note that the adjustment slot is sealed by a blanking plug made of rubber or plastic. In such a scenario, use the screwdriver to remove it. 

Adjust Brake Cable

Sometimes you will need to adjust the cable. The handbrake cable is usually under your truck, similar to the typical drum handbrake. Most cables have the adjuster at the U-shaped yoke.


The handbrake is necessary, especially when parking your truck. Sometimes it might fail because it is composed of various parts. This guide will aid you in performing necessary adjustments to your handbrake.