What Does the ‘Brake Hold’ Button Do in a Car?

There are so many technical features and buttons in a new car today that it can be hard to figure out what each one does. Of course, if you buy a new car, you can always thumb through the owner’s manual and figure everything out. Or you can simply push every button and see what it does. But one button that you might not figure out is the “brake hold” button, which can be found in some of the newer cars on the market today.

What is the “brake hold” feature?

Brake hold button in the 2021 Honda Accord
Brake hold button in the 2021 Honda Accord | Joe Santos

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Not every new car you step into will have a “brake hold” feature, but if you purchased a new Honda or Acura in the past five years, then it most likely will. In those cars, the “brake hold” button is located on the center console, right below the gear shifter (or buttons). This button should not be confused with the car’s parking brake, which is usually labeled with a circled “P.”

Instead, the brake hold button can be toggled on and off with a simple press when the car is in “park” or “drive,” as long as the driver’s seatbelt is buckled. When activated, a light will illuminate in the instrument panel indicating that it’s on and the brake hold feature will hold the car in place whenever it’s brought to a complete stop. It will hold the car in place for up to 10 minutes, during which time the driver can completely remove his or her foot from the brake pedal. To release the brake hold, the driver can simply step on the accelerator and drive.

What’s the point of using the car’s brake hold feature?

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While bringing your car to a complete stop and having it stay there seems like a pointless automatic magic trick, it’s not. According to MSN Autos, one of the reasons you would want to use the brake hold feature is when you’re sitting in stop-and-go traffic as being able to remove your foot from the brake pedal can be a relief.

Another good use for the brake hold feature, as we have personally found in the past, is when you’re sitting in a drive-thru at a bank or a fast-food restaurant. Have you ever found yourself patiently waiting in a drive-thru line and constantly putting the car in “park” when doing so? The brake hold feature can do away with that need completely as you’ll simply have to release your foot from the pedal instead of messing with the gear shifter.

Is “brake hold” the same thing as “hill start assist?”

Brake hold feature a Honda Accord instrument panel
Brake hold feature a Honda Accord instrument panel | Joe Santos

The car’s “brake hold” feature is different than the “hill start assist” feature, however, they have the same concept. The “hill start assist” feature holds the car’s brakes in order to prevent it from rolling back when it’s on an incline. For example, if you bring the car to a complete stop at the top of a hill, the hill start assist will hold the car – usually for a few seconds – so that the driver can easily accelerate without the dangers of rolling back.

This feature is also popular on many new cars equipped with manual transmissions as it can be helpful when having to modulate the clutch pedal. On the other hand, the “brake hold” feature is mainly used when driving normally, although it can be used on inclines as well.