Ensuring Emergency Readiness: Inspecting And Testing The Parking Brake System In Ambulances

how to check the parking brake in an ambulance

The parking brake in an ambulance, also known as the emergency brake, is a critical component of the vehicle's braking system. It is designed to act as a backup in case the primary braking system fails and to prevent the vehicle from rolling away when parked, especially on an incline. Checking the parking brake regularly is important to ensure it is in proper working order. This can be done through a quick initial exam and a more in-depth test. The quick test involves parking on a flat surface, engaging the emergency brake, and slowly driving forward to see if the vehicle moves. If it does, the brake may need adjustment or replacement. The in-depth test involves checking the brake pads or drums, and a hill test to ensure the brake can bring the vehicle to a stop.

Characteristics Values
When to check the parking brake Every few months
How to check the parking brake Find a hill with a pronounced slope, put the car in neutral at the top of the hill, and release the foot brake. The car should start to roll down the hill. Engage the parking brake and the car should stop abruptly.
What to do if the parking brake doesn't work Conduct a more in-depth examination of the emergency brake where you can make any needed adjustments. Visit a local mechanic for a professional opinion.


Find the parking brake

The parking brake, also known as the emergency brake, is an essential safety feature in vehicles. It is designed to act as a backup in case the primary braking system fails and to keep the vehicle stationary when parked.

The parking brake can be found through the following steps:

Firstly, identify the type of parking brake in your ambulance. There are several types of parking brakes, including the hand brake, pedal, centre lever, push button, and stick lever. The hand brake is typically located on the centre console between the driver and front passenger seats, while the pedal is usually found as a small pedal to the left of the gas, brake, and clutch pedals. The centre lever is often found between the seats in late-model vehicles with bucket seats, and the push button is located with the other console controls. The stick lever is commonly found in older vehicles under the instrument panel. Refer to your ambulance's owner's manual or consult a trained technician for specific guidance on locating your parking brake.

Once you have identified the type of parking brake in your ambulance, you can proceed to locate it. If it is a hand brake, look for a lever on the centre console. For a pedal, search for a small pedal to the left of the other pedals. The centre lever will be between the seats, while the push button will be with the other console controls. The stick lever will most likely be found under the instrument panel.

After locating the parking brake, ensure that you understand how to engage and release it properly. Typically, the hand brake is engaged by pulling up on the lever and released by pushing the button and pushing down on the stick. For the pedal type, press down on the pedal until you hear a click to engage, and pull the lever above the foot pedal to release. To engage the centre lever, simply pull up on the lever, and to release, press the button and push down. The push-button type is engaged and released by simply pushing the button. For the stick lever, pull up on the lever to engage and release as needed.

Remember, the parking brake should be used every time you park your ambulance, regardless of whether you are on a hill or flat surface. This helps keep it in proper working order and adds an extra layer of security.


Park on a flat surface

When checking the parking brake in an ambulance, it is important to begin by parking the vehicle on a flat surface. This is a crucial first step in the process of ensuring the parking brake is functioning correctly. By parking on level ground, you can effectively evaluate the brake's performance and make any necessary adjustments.

Parking on a flat surface is essential because it provides a consistent and controlled environment to test the parking brake. It ensures that the ambulance is not subjected to external forces or influences that could impact the accuracy of your assessment. This stable environment allows you to isolate the variables and focus solely on the parking brake's performance.

When you engage the parking brake on a flat surface, you can observe whether the ambulance remains securely in place. A properly functioning parking brake will hold the vehicle stationary, preventing it from rolling in any direction. This simple yet effective test gives you valuable insight into the condition of the parking brake and its ability to keep the ambulance immobile when parked.

Additionally, parking on a flat surface allows you to perform a more comprehensive inspection of the parking brake system. With the vehicle stationary and stable, you can carefully examine the brake components for any signs of wear, damage, or corrosion. This includes inspecting the cables, levers, pedals, or buttons associated with the parking brake mechanism. By conducting a visual inspection in a controlled setting, you can identify potential issues that may impact the overall effectiveness of the parking brake.

Moreover, parking on a flat surface is a safety precaution. When testing the parking brake, you want to ensure that the ambulance remains stationary to prevent any unintended movement. By choosing a level parking spot, you mitigate the risk of the vehicle rolling or experiencing uncontrolled motion during the testing process. This safety measure helps protect you, bystanders, and the ambulance itself from potential harm.


Engage the parking brake

The parking brake, also known as the emergency brake, is an essential safety feature in vehicles. It is designed to be used when the vehicle is parked, especially on an incline, to prevent it from rolling away. Here are the steps to engage the parking brake in an ambulance:

Firstly, it is important to identify the parking brake in your vehicle. It can be in the form of a handle, pedal, or button labelled "Parking Brake". Typically, it is located on the centre console between the driver and front passenger seats or as a foot pedal to the left of the driver's foot. If you are unsure, refer to your ambulance's owner's manual for the exact placement.

Now, follow these steps while the engine is still running:

  • Press down completely on the brake pedal.
  • Pull the lever, step on the pedal, or press the parking brake button, depending on your ambulance's configuration. Refer to your owner's manual for specific instructions pertaining to your vehicle.
  • Shift your automatic transmission into "Park" or put your manual transmission in gear.
  • Release the brake pedal.

It is crucial to remember to fully release the parking brake before starting to drive again. Driving with the parking brake engaged can lead to loss of fuel economy and additional wear on your brakes or transmission.

Additionally, it is recommended to use the parking brake every time you park, regardless of the terrain. This helps keep the brake in proper working order and reduces stress on the transmission and driveline parts.


Test the brake

Now that you've found the parking brake, it's time to test it. This test should be conducted on a monthly basis to ensure your ambulance is operating effectively.

Park your ambulance on a flat surface and engage the primary brake system by pressing down on the brake pedal. Next, engage the parking brake by pulling up the brake lever or pushing the brake pedal, depending on your ambulance's setup.

Now, slowly release the primary brake system and try to drive the ambulance forward. If the parking brake is working correctly, the vehicle should not move. If it does, your parking brake may be worn or incorrectly adjusted.

Another test you can perform is to drive to the top of a small hill and put the ambulance in neutral. If the car doesn't start to roll, put it into gear to encourage movement. Once the ambulance is rolling, engage the parking brake. The vehicle should stop abruptly. If it doesn't, use the regular foot brake.

After testing the parking brake, consider getting a professional mechanic to conduct a thorough safety inspection of your ambulance, even if you didn't observe any malfunctions.


Check the brake warning light

The brake warning light is an important indicator of your vehicle's health. When illuminated, it could mean a variety of issues, some more serious than others. Here's what to do when you see the brake warning light in your ambulance:

Identify the Warning Light

First, you need to identify the specific brake warning light that is illuminated. Modern vehicles have multiple brake warning lights, each indicating a different issue. The most common ones are:

  • Brake Light: This light usually indicates that your vehicle's brake fluid level is low. It is typically depicted as a circle with an exclamation mark in the center, surrounded by parentheses or rounded brackets.
  • ABS Light: This light indicates a problem with your vehicle's anti-lock braking system (ABS). The symbol is usually an encircled "ABS" or the letters "ABS" inside a circle.
  • Parking Brake Light: This light alerts you that your parking brake is engaged or not fully disengaged. It is often represented as a circled "P" symbol. It can also indicate a faulty parking brake mechanism or sensor.
  • Brake Pad Wear Indicator Light: This light warns you that your brake pads are worn out and need replacement. It is typically represented by a circle inside dotted brackets.

Check Brake Fluid Level

If the brake fluid level warning light is illuminated, check the brake fluid reservoir, which is usually located under the hood. Ensure that the fluid level is between the "MAX" and "MIN" marks. If the fluid level is low, top it up with the correct type of brake fluid as specified in your ambulance's owner's manual. Do not use a lower number fluid than required.

Check for Brake Fluid Leaks

If the fluid level is low but you haven't noticed any significant brake pad wear, there might be a brake fluid leak. Inspect the area around the brake fluid reservoir, brake lines, connections, mechanical proportioning valves, rubber hoses near the wheels, and the brake mechanisms for any signs of leakage. If you notice a clear or amber-colored fluid dripping or oozing, do not drive the ambulance. Contact a mechanic or a brake specialist immediately for repairs.

Check the Parking Brake

If the parking brake warning light is illuminated, check whether the parking brake is fully disengaged. If it is still engaged or not fully released, release it completely. In some vehicles, there might be a manual release lever near the top of the pedal assembly if the automatic release fails. If the warning light remains on even after disengaging the parking brake, there might be an issue with the switch that turns off the light, which may need adjustment or repair.

Check Brake Lights

If none of the above steps resolve the issue, check your ambulance's brake lights. Turn off the vehicle and press down on the brake pedal or use something heavy to hold it down. Inspect the rear lights to see if one or both brake lights are functioning. If a brake light is not working, replace the bulb with a high-quality one of the correct type. This should resolve the issue and turn off the brake warning light.

Consult a Mechanic

If all the above checks do not turn off the brake warning light, there might be a more serious issue with your braking system. Do not ignore the warning light, as it could indicate a potential safety hazard. Consult a qualified mechanic or a brake specialist as soon as possible to diagnose and rectify the problem. It is recommended to refrain from driving the ambulance until the issue is resolved.

Frequently asked questions

There is no rule of thumb about how often you should test your parking brakes. However, since it only takes a few minutes, conducting the test once a month will give you peace of mind, knowing that your ambulance is operating effectively.

Here is a step-by-step guide to testing your parking brake:

Roll the ambulance down the hill. The vehicle should be in neutral; if it does not immediately roll, put it into gear to give it the push it needs to go down the hill.

Repeat the same steps in the opposite direction. To test the parking brake thoroughly, spend a few minutes repeating the same steps but with your ambulance parked upwards on the hill's slope. The parking brake should work the same way. If the parking brake does not stop the car completely, a more in-depth look at the ambulance's brake system is in order.

There are four main types of parking brakes:

Center lever: Found between the seats in late-model vehicles with bucket seats. Simply pull up the lever to engage the emergency brake. To release the brake, press the button on the end and push down on the stick.

Stick lever: Found in many older vehicles, the stick lever emergency brake is commonly found under the instrument panel.

Here are some signs that your ambulance's brakes may need attention:

- Vehicle pulling to one side during braking

- Pulsating brake pedal or steering wheel shakes while braking

- Brake pedal feels soft or weak

- Unusual noises when you press the pedal

- Brake fluid leaks, or repeated need for additional brake fluid

- Unusual odor or smoke caused by friction

While emergency brakes are an essential safety feature in vehicles, they can also pose certain dangers if not used properly. Some potential dangers of emergency brakes include:

- Over-reliance on emergency brakes

- Malfunctioning emergency brakes

- Sudden and harsh braking

- Failing to release the emergency brake

Written by
Reviewed by
Share this post
Did this article help you?

Leave a comment