My car doesn’t have an autohold handbrake function. Is there any way I can add one?

autohold handbrake

Cars are increasingly doing away with the traditional manual handbrake and replacing them with electronic parking brakes. One of the benefits of these is they come with an autohold function. We’ll explain what this is below. Can you add them as an afterthought? Yes, but as with anything that messes with one of the car’s key safety systems, the work should be carried out by a qualified automotive professional.

What is the autohold function?

Autohold works with the ESP and ABS systems. It keeps the brakes applied until sensors tell the car’s electronic brain that the clutch biting point has been reached. The brake is then automatically released.

What is the idea behind autohold?

Remember the hill start from when you learnt to drive? Some people love it, seeing at as a challenge for their co-ordination. Others loath it as it’s too much of a challenge for their co-ordination. Autohold does away with the need for drivers to be able to perform a hill start. It releases the brake for you at exactly the right time to stop the car rolling backwards down hill.

So can you have autohold retrofitted?

Physically, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be fitted aftermarket. All cars have ABS and ESP and of course they have brakes too. But there are a couple of reasons why it’s tricky. First of all, you’d effectively have to hack into the car’s electronics to make it work.

On a car with an electronic handbrake it’ll be easier because there will probably be a place for the autohold button to live. All you have to do is replace the blanking plate with the button.

It sounds simple but doing the wiring will require whoever does it to take the car’s centre console apart. They will then have to know about wiring to ensure that they install it correctly and of course safely.

This is one of those jobs where the parts for it are super cheap. We found a blogger who had fitted one to his Audi A4 and reckons it only cost him around £15 in parts. But then he clearly knows his way around his car’s electrical systems.

Does autohold have to be with an electronic handbrake?

autohold handbrake
More than four in five new cars come with electronic parking brakes which means autohold (Picture©MG)

No. There are plenty of cars with the old school lever handbrakes that still feature autohold. This is because it uses the same software as the ESP and ABS. It requires a sensor that can read the car’s attitude and knows when it’s on an incline.

But it’s easy with an electronic handbrake

Electronic parking brakes have no cable unlike the traditional manual handbrake. When you pull on a button – usually where the handbrake used to be – it’ll trigger a motor that engages the rear brake pads onto the brake discs. That’s the whirring sound you hear when cars with these come to a halt.

The same sensor that works to disengage autohold will also release the parking brake when you start driving. As with autohold, this happens automatically.