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    Thread: SAFETY TIP: Beware the Tiguan Electronic Parking Brake!

    1. Member RSDA's Avatar
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      07-11-2011 05:23 PM #1
      Don’t be stupid like me.

      Here I am, driving down a major thoroughfare in Portland, Maine at about 50 mph. Moments before, coffee from my overfilled cup has spilled into the recessed area where the electronic parking brake is handily located. Although overfilling my cup was dumb, it’s also kind of dumb that this recessed area is right beside the cup holder.

      Without thinking, I reach for a couple of napkins to soak up the spill.

      Before I can figure out what has happened, the Tiguan has come to a screaming halt in the middle of the lane—so fast that I can’t even get out of the lane before coming to a stop. I have, of course, unwittingly engaged the parking brake at 50 mph.

      The Tig is now stopped in the lane—and I can’t get it going again. The engine is running; my seatbelt is still fastened (another stupid feature of the car), but the vehicle won’t release the brake as I try in a panic to get going again before I get rear-ended. I finally start madly clicking the e-brake button again; this releases the brakes.

      (Note that the manual says “in order to cancel the braking maneuver, release the brake or accelerate.” This was not the case with this incident. I was madly trying to get away in first gear—stick shift—and the brake would not release. I had to press the button again.)

      I was in luck. There had been no traffic directly behind me. Had there been, I have no doubt that I would have been rear-ended by one or more vehicles (or a motorcycle, god forbid).

      As noted above, this was a dumb move on my part. I shouldn’t have spilled the coffee, I shouldn’t have tried to sop up the spill while driving, and I should have more clearly understood what happens if the parking brake switch is accidentally pulled at speed. However, I feel like the electronic parking brake in the Tiguan is a stupidly over-engineered component. It scares me that there is an easily accessible switch that anyone in the vehicle can simply click (accidentally or on purpose) to bring the vehicle to an instant stop. The fact that it can’t be intuitively disengaged—at least not in my experience—once activated is even worse. Imagine this happening at 70mph on a highway. We all grew up knowing that the traditional hand-pulled e-brake could be activated and modulated in case of brake failure.

      Forewarned is forearmed. Read about the electronic brake in your manual and be cognizant of the fact that that little switch has the potential to turn your life upside-down pretty quickly.
      Last edited by RSDA; 07-11-2011 at 05:25 PM.
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    2. Member Lordboost's Avatar
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      07-11-2011 05:38 PM #2
      Quote Originally Posted by RSDA View Post

      ... the Tiguan has come to a screaming halt in the middle of the lane—so fast that I can’t even get out of the lane before coming to a stop. I have, of course, unwittingly engaged the parking brake at 50 mph.
      As far as I know, you cannot lock up parking brake while the vehicle is in motion but you can engage the emergency brake but only while holding the parking lever in the up position. Your spilled coffee must have shorted the switch thus preventing the emergency brake from releasing as you let go the lever.
      Myke

    3. Member RSDA's Avatar
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      07-11-2011 06:26 PM #3
      Quote Originally Posted by Lordboost View Post
      As far as I know, you cannot lock up parking brake while the vehicle is in motion but you can engage the emergency brake but only while holding the parking lever in the up position. Your spilled coffee must have shorted the switch thus preventing the emergency brake from releasing as you let go the lever.
      Yeesh. Now I'm wondering if I even manually engaged it at all...
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      07-11-2011 08:37 PM #4
      As with any electronic equipment, moisture is the enemy. I am wondering if the moping up the coffee had more to do with the engaging than the coffee did?

      Anyways, glad your ok and thanks for the heads up.

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      07-11-2011 11:53 PM #5
      My least favorite feature.

      I look forward to this being retrofitted by VW to a sane system.

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      07-12-2011 08:44 AM #6
      The problem is not the parking brake, but the dumb ass location of the switch.

      To the OP, you should lodge a complaint with NHTSA as this is a safety issue.

      @ Super Hans, there will never be a retrofit kit. Think about it, mechanical calipers, cables, linkages, lever, hole in body to run cables, mounting points, new console.

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      07-12-2011 09:45 AM #7
      I've wondered about this before and have tried to engage the parking brake at speed, it wont happen. It makes a quick sound as if it's trying to engage but then thinks twice and aborts. I'm guessing all VW's with this feature are the same but maybe not.

    8. Member RSDA's Avatar
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      07-12-2011 11:55 AM #8
      I've realized that the parking brake may have actually malfunctioned due to the liquid, as someone mentioned.

      After a re-read of the manual, it seems clear that the emergency braking should only have occurred while the switch was being pulled, or in any case, should have disengaged the moment I pressed on the accelerator. Both my hands were on the wheel, so I was definitely not pulling the switch. The Tig not only came to a complete stop, but would not release the brakes until I had pulled on the switch again a number of times. The car kept bucking back and forth as I tried to get away in first gear (as we all discovered when we first learned about the stupid "seat belt must be buckled" rule).

      I will write to VW about this.
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      07-12-2011 01:23 PM #9
      Interesting, what road were you on? I live one town over from Portland, Maine.

      I wonder if the VW parking brake system is anything like the electric one in my BMW. It will ONLY engage over 5mph if I pull up on it and hold it there. If its an accidental pull, nothing will happen on the highway. And if it did engage while it was moving, BMW was gracious enough to give us a little tool to manually release the parking brake.

    10. 07-14-2011 11:46 AM #10
      gee... Can anyone find e-break protect cover on the net? I don't want it happened to me...

    11. Member Machete Priest's Avatar
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      07-14-2011 06:35 PM #11
      When I bought my Tig the salesmen pointed at it and said "Never push this button."

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      07-14-2011 10:08 PM #12

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      07-14-2011 10:56 PM #13
      Wow! This is good to know! Seems like if they used sealed switches and insulated contacts, this would not be an issue!
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    14. Member Lordboost's Avatar
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      07-15-2011 07:54 AM #14
      http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthrea...ighlight=brake

      by grammaticus

      "So, I had an interesting experience today--the Tig's parking brake would not disengage when we
      were going to leave the parking lot. Just in case anyone else has this issue, here are the gory details:

      - yes, we could hear the rrrrrr sound of the brake "disengaging";
      - yes, the light on the switch in the center console quit;
      - yes, the light on the switch in the center console reappeared, flashing and chiming;
      - yes, a "P" with a circle around and line through it illuminated in the tach;
      - yes, a warning in the readout offered, "ERROR! Parking Brake! Owner's Manual!" or something like;
      - no, the car would not budge.

      The solution, offered by the dealership service department, is to:

      (a) remove key from ignition;
      (b) remove both battery cables from their respective terminals (10mm hex);
      (c) touch the ends of the battery cables together for about 30 sec. (I held them there for about 60).
      (d) reconnect the battery cables.

      This process apparently effects a kind of reset of at least the parking brake system, if not some
      others, but it did work. NB - you won't hear anything happening (e.g. servos whirring) while you
      have the battery cables disconnected and the system is resetting itself."
      Myke

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      07-25-2011 12:14 AM #15
      I bought a product called Smartgrip at a local Container Store and cut the rubber like pad down to size to fit over the parking brake lever and the button next to it. It stays put and doesn't need to be taped down. It was either that or ban drinks in the car. I still miss being able to pull up on the handbrake to slow down without teltale brake lights.

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      07-25-2011 08:36 PM #16
      Here's a great travel mug that is really spillproof and is a great, quality built product. I bought these for everyone in our family as a holiday gift a couple of years ago, and everyone still uses them daily. They are a great travel mug that keeps your drinks hot (or cold) for hours ... and keeps liquid out of the electronic brake controller



      You can buy them direct here http://www.gocontigo.com/autoseal-st...ravel-mug.html
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      07-29-2011 01:48 PM #17
      I have hit the brake button in my fiances 2011 S model just to see what it would do. What happens is a delay while the ABS pump pressurizes and then you have a 4 wheel emergency brake using the ABS system. It is pretty awesome! If i remember you have to hold the switch down the whole time.
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    18. 02-21-2013 10:48 PM #18
      Hi, I rented a vw Tiguan this past weekend and can honestly say we are lucky to be alive! The car is a death trap. The parking brake WILL engage at high speed! I was traveling on a major highway at over 70 miles per hr when my teenager dropped his earbud. Before either of us knew what was happening the emergency brake/parking brake engaged! The wheels locked up. I had a hard time controlling the crazy car. The brake would not disengage!! Thank God there was no one especially not a semi behind us. After trying for what seemed to be forever I got it to disengage. These cars should not be in rental fleets as not many people have ever seen this type of brake. When we arrived at our final destination I had several engineers look at the crazy button and they were shocked by the poor design. We were overly careful the rest of our trip, not using the drinkholder, and making sure that we didn't drop anything near the button of death. Needless to say I will never get in another vw. Have been telling everyone I can about it so that hopefully others can avoid a disaster. Stay safe out there!

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      02-21-2013 11:01 PM #19
      Is there a board or exposed wiring you could possibly take out and dip in silicone? That would rule out moisture or anything touching the live circuit if spilled. I'm not sure exactly how they work, my R has the actual pull up hand brake and this is one feature I wish they would have just left alone.

    20. Member RSDA's Avatar
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      02-22-2013 10:23 AM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by Luckytobealiverenter View Post
      Hi, I rented a vw Tiguan this past weekend and can honestly say we are lucky to be alive! The car is a death trap. The parking brake WILL engage at high speed! I was traveling on a major highway at over 70 miles per hr when my teenager dropped his earbud. Before either of us knew what was happening the emergency brake/parking brake engaged! The wheels locked up. I had a hard time controlling the crazy car. The brake would not disengage!! Thank God there was no one especially not a semi behind us. After trying for what seemed to be forever I got it to disengage. These cars should not be in rental fleets as not many people have ever seen this type of brake. When we arrived at our final destination I had several engineers look at the crazy button and they were shocked by the poor design. We were overly careful the rest of our trip, not using the drinkholder, and making sure that we didn't drop anything near the button of death. Needless to say I will never get in another vw. Have been telling everyone I can about it so that hopefully others can avoid a disaster. Stay safe out there!
      It would be great if you could take a moment and lodge a vehicle complaint with the NHSTA.

      You can do it here: https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/index.cfm

      This is what I did after the incident described above happened to me. Maybe we can get a recall going.


      R
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      02-22-2013 07:17 PM #21
      This worries me because I frequently visit coffee shops and just hitting a bump on the road I have had coffee come out of the little hole in the lid and spill all over the parking brake button. It seems like an overly complicated system and I rather just have a mechanical lever. I didnt know so many people had similar experiences
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      02-22-2013 07:26 PM #22
      I am always suspicious of people who come here and on their first post deliver such a tale. I am still not sure how an ear bud engaged the emergency brake.

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      02-22-2013 08:45 PM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by shawng View Post
      I am always suspicious of people who come here and on their first post deliver such a tale. I am still not sure how an ear bud engaged the emergency brake.
      Absolutely agree, the ONLY way the emergency brake can be engaged while moving is by pulling the switch UP and HOLDING it there (I accept this "could" happen if somebody spilled fluid into the switch and short circuited it).

      Frankly I suspect that in 5 years time virtually all cars will have eBrakes because they're so darn good, along with electromechanical steering so that self parking, and even self steering can be operated.

      IMHO the only real problem with the eBrake in the Tiguan is the switch location though I suspect it was put there simply because it's the place that manual handbrakes are usually located. The problem with moisture in the eBrake switch only ever seems to occur in NA where people carry drinks in their vehicles in other than sipper bottles.

      Cheers
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      02-23-2013 05:34 AM #24
      Interesting read here. I've only engaged the e-brake once, in the garage, to get out and see how bright/dim the back up lights were. May try it in motion, just for S&Gs. That said, it IS really close to the front cupholder...which is the one we use more frequently. Info is appreciated!
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    25. Member RSDA's Avatar
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      02-23-2013 08:52 AM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by NZTIGUAN View Post
      Absolutely agree, the ONLY way the emergency brake can be engaged while moving is by pulling the switch UP and HOLDING it there (I accept this "could" happen if somebody spilled fluid into the switch and short circuited it).

      Frankly I suspect that in 5 years time virtually all cars will have eBrakes because they're so darn good, along with electromechanical steering so that self parking, and even self steering can be operated.

      IMHO the only real problem with the eBrake in the Tiguan is the switch location though I suspect it was put there simply because it's the place that manual handbrakes are usually located. The problem with moisture in the eBrake switch only ever seems to occur in NA where people carry drinks in their vehicles in other than sipper bottles.

      Cheers
      I wrote the original post. I thank you for "accepting" that this situation "could" happen. It happens, dude; it happened to me. Your further implication that everyone else in the world is immune from this situation other than Cro Magnon North Americans with their non-sipper bottles is absurd.

      The Tiguan's e-brake is the most poorly designed system I have ever encountered. And its implementation with the stick shift, which I have, makes it even worse.

      I love having these conversations with mechanics or friends to whom I lend the Tiguan:

      • "That's right, the e-brake won't disengage unless the seat belt is engaged. You may have an emergency where you need to drive off quickly, or you may just need to shuffle the cars in the driveway, but you'll just sit there bucking the car back and forth in first gear trying to figure out what's going on. You'll remember after a while. There will be cursing."
      • "Yeah, it's kind of weird. Even with the seat belt engaged, you can't disengage the brake. Just put it in first gear, let out the clutch, and it will disengage. Completely unintuitive, but you'll get used to it."
      • "As an added bonus, if you ever stall the car in an intersection, the e-brake will engage while you're still rolling and trying to restart the car. You'll be jolted to an immediate stop. Brace yourself for impact from behind."
      • "And speaking of bracing yourself, you may have read on the internet that if you spill anything in the conveniently positioned e-brake fluid receptable, the vehicle may come to an emergency stop anywhere. And you won't be able to disengage the shorted-out brake when it does come to a stop. Again, prepare for impact. If it's an 18-wheeler coming up behind you, though, it'll all be over pretty quickly.
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      02-23-2013 09:58 AM #26
      I have an automatic, so I don't know the nuances of brakes behaviour on a standard, but some of what you describe sounds like autohold and not the e-brake per say. I do agree that the button is in the worst place ever. And yes, having a coffee or drink in the car is a North American thing. i also believe that for most people, as not us enthusiasts here, the button is never touched, even in an emergency situation.

      Personally, I love them. I have had so many cables seize or go out of adjustment over the years, it's nice to have a parking brake that holds each and every time you engage it.

    27. 02-23-2013 10:13 AM #27
      Quote Originally Posted by shawng View Post
      ...Personally, I love them. I have had so many cables seize or go out of adjustment over the years, it's nice to have a parking brake that holds each and every time you engage it.

      +1; that said, it is arguably in a sub-optimal location (as an electronic switch, it could be located anywhere in reach). When it is on, you know it. I like that.

    28. Member TIGSEL's Avatar
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      02-23-2013 04:46 PM #28
      The location is fine with me, it is intuitive when/if you ever need to use it in an emergency. Every drive knows where the handbrake is suppose to be located so yes, you'll automatically reach there instead of looking around the dashboard to find it. Those few seconds may be crucial for ones survival. I do agree that VW should revisit the switch design and probably come up with a water tight version and possibly recall thousands affected vehicles but for now people need to use common sense when pairing liquids and electronics, just my 0.02.
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    29. Member NZTIGUAN's Avatar
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      02-24-2013 03:16 PM #29
      Quote Originally Posted by RSDA View Post
      [*]"That's right, the e-brake won't disengage unless the seat belt is engaged. You may have an emergency where you need to drive off quickly, or you may just need to shuffle the cars in the driveway, but you'll just sit there bucking the car back and forth in first gear trying to figure out what's going on. You'll remember after a while. There will be cursing."[*]"Yeah, it's kind of weird. Even with the seat belt engaged, you can't disengage the brake. Just put it in first gear, let out the clutch, and it will disengage. Completely unintuitive, but you'll get used to it."
      You certainly can disengage the handbrake without your seat belt on in the auto, you simply press the switch down while your foot's on the brake pedal, not so in the manual ??

      Your other issues sound like auto hold problems to me, not eBrake issues as such, do you have the separate auto hold button on your model ??

      I've always said that the eBrake is best suited to autos but I'm not a fan of the auto-hold to be honest. I tried it but found it had a habit of coming on when I was reversing into a car-park etc and so for the past 4 years I've never switched it on. I just use the eBrake in the same way as a manual hand brake BUT with the added benefit that I usually (as long as I have my seat belt on) don't have to put it "off". So, in the auto there's really no drama at all, seat belt off it works exactly the same as a manual handbrake, seat belt on and it becomes an "auto-off" handbrake, so no pain all gain.

      Cheers
      Last edited by NZTIGUAN; 02-24-2013 at 07:55 PM.
      Derek
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    30. Member RSDA's Avatar
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      02-25-2013 10:25 AM #30
      Quote Originally Posted by NZTIGUAN View Post
      You certainly can disengage the handbrake without your seat belt on in the auto, you simply press the switch down while your foot's on the brake pedal, not so in the manual ??
      You're right—just tried it on my stick shift and the e-brake will disengage when you press down the e-brake button while pressing on the brake pedal. It never occurred to me to try this as one would never press down on the brake pedal when preparing to drive (unlike the auto, where it's mandatory to get into drive).

      Thanks.
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      02-25-2013 03:40 PM #31
      Quote Originally Posted by RSDA View Post
      You're right—just tried it on my stick shift and the e-brake will disengage when you press down the e-brake button while pressing on the brake pedal. It never occurred to me to try this as one would never press down on the brake pedal when preparing to drive (unlike the auto, where it's mandatory to get into drive).

      Thanks.
      No problem, glad I could help It certainly does make the ebrake seem a bit more friendly !! I guess the reasoning is so nobody can do it and have the car just run away, something that CAN happen of course with a manual handbrake !!

      Cheers
      Derek
      Alexandra New Zealand
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