What Happens When You Are Driving With Parking Brake On?

driving with parking brake on

There are rare instances that we become absent minded when we drive. We could be calculating the amount of time to reach our destination, planning our errands as we get in the car, talking to someone over the phone, or scolding one of your children.

After you have driven a couple of meters, you suddenly realize something off about the way your car moves. It seems as if it is dragging. You stop and look at your rearview mirror in case you accidentally pulled something.

Then you check your warning lights, gears, and --- oh, the parking brake!Admit it; this has happened to you once or twice in your driving life. It gets embarrassing when you’re supposedly the expert driver, and you have passengers. However, at the back of your mind, you are more worried about the consequences.

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You’re probably wondering if you have caused damage to your car when you drove with the parking brake on. Well, it depends on how far away you’ve driven and the speed at which you’re driving. You may not feel the effects right away, but just don’t make it a habit before something worse happens.

Let’s explore some of the questions you may have at the back of your mind:

What is the parking brake for?

driving with parking brake on

The parking brake serves as a secondary brake when you are parked on a steep incline or a slanted road, such as your parking garage.

The parking brake serves as a secondary brake when you are parked on a steep incline or a slanted road, such as your parking garage or a sidewalk. Turning off the engine and leaving it on gear will keep it stationary, however, if the shifter doesn’t work and the gears pop out your car may move on its own.

Parking brakes can also be for emergency stops such as when you’re driving uphill. Manual transmission car owners will attest to the fact that parking brakes as very helpful when “hang driving.”

Hang driving is when you drive slowly or have frequent stops on steep inclines. Most likely you experience this in cities where there are steep roads and you get caught in traffic. Multi-level parking spaces are another example where you need to hang drive.

How does the parking brake work?

driving with parking brake on

Parking brakes are hand brakes that you can manually activate by pulling the lever.

Parking brakes are hand brakes that you can manually activate by pulling the lever. This acts as a stopper on the wheels to prevent it from moving. Pulling on the parking brake puts a stop to the rotors and stops the wheels from turning. If you have a front-wheel drive, the car won’t run if the parking brake is on.

On the other hand, if you have a rear-wheel drive, your vehicle can still move but will drag along because the engine can overpower the brakes.

Will it cause damage to my car?

driving with parking brake on

Driving with parking brake on can cause harm to your car.

Yes, it will eventually cause harm although if it rarely happens. The effect will be unnoticeable. Your brake pads, brake fluid, rotors, and calipers will get damaged if this often happens.

Therefore, you need to replace them because the brakes won’t work. Your car will also have added mileage – it is slowly moving and adding distance. It also affects fuel economy because it adds stress to the engines.

What Are the Effects of Driving With the Parking Brake On?

driving with parking brake on

Driving with parking brake on can be dangerous.

If you have been driving for quite a distance at an average driving speed, you will notice a burning smell because of the brake fluid. When this happens, stop right away and ask for help. If you lightly apply the parking brake and unknowingly drive off, it will cause very minimal damage.

The problem is when you have fully pulled the parking brake. The added friction to the brake pads will cause it to wear out quickly.

In some cases, if you have been driving for a few minutes at a fast speed, the added friction causes heat and warms the brake fluid. This is dangerous because sparks may develop and the area where your brake pads come in contact with the wheels could burn.

driving with parking brake on

If you frequently forget to check your parking brakes, and you often drive with them on, your brake pads lose their function.

If you frequently forget to check your parking brakes, and you often drive with them on, your brake pads lose their function. You will notice that your brakes don’t come to a stop right away and you may feel vibrating or a sluggish feel on the brakes.

This is dangerous, and you need to have your brake pads replaced right away. When you’re riding the brake added friction heats up the brake fluid. When the brake fluid boils, it doesn’t apply the needed pressure to the brakes. When this happens, stepping on the brake pedal will fail.

Also, the added heat melts the adhesive on the brake lining and might crack or remove itself from the brake pads.

What to Do if You Often Drive with the Parking Brake On?

driving with parking brake on

Chances are if you have done it once or twice you will remember it the next time. But then again, don’t dismiss the thought that there is no further damage. Bring it to the mechanic and have the brake pads inspected. You may also ask your mechanic to check the brake fluid to make sure that it doesn’t leak or have air in them.

Conclusion

The longer we have been driving, the more it feels like something so normal like breathing and walking. There may have been absent minded instances but make it a habit always to check the warning lights before you drive off.

There is a warning light for the parking brake when it is engaged. Pay attention to that light. You may want to put a reminder for yourself, such as a checklist on your dashboard, so you don’t forget anything.

driving with parking brake on

There is a warning light for the parking brake when it is engaged.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever experienced driving with the parking brake on? We’d love to hear your anecdotes and tell us what happened and what you did about it.

Do you also have tips on how to make sure drivers don’t forget to check the parking brakes? Please share with us your feedback and comments; we’d love to hear from you. Please share this article with your friends and other drivers, too.

About the Author

I am David Walker ,I'm a car enthusiast. Through this blog, I want to share every single experience I had with my beloved car with you guys. Definitely feel free to comment, give feedbacks and show us what You and your cars have been through.

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(3) comments

  • SYED HYDER MOHSIN November 9, 2018

    I drove a few meters (10-20 ft) a couple of times before realizing it. Hopefully no damage?

    Reply
  • Sharon February 14, 2019

    I rode the emergency brake on the highway when I had about 9000 miles on the car. I finally heard a squeaking noise . Roters had to be replaced. Then about 3 years later I backed up over a small speed bump because someone wanted to get by,oops left emergency brake on. After being around Blackhawk I drove to Lafayette ca. From papyrus emergency brake on . I drove almost to D Foods .Just had oil changed and cabin air filter replaced, brakes they said were half down .Drove car a little less than a mile . Near Talbots someone was backing almost into me to parallel park. Should of checked if emergency brake on. I wanted to get to another location without a problem.Tied ribbon straw dark pinkish on emergency brake. A week ago I thought this ribbon might not work. My mom told me in 2017 when the full brakes were replaced to tie the ribbon on or we were not to leave the Mazda parking lot. It worked for Almost two years . Does leaving the emergency brake on for a little less than a mile shutter the top of the steering wheel in a Mazda 3 .

    Reply
  • Dave b March 8, 2019

    Paid $200 for a 17 mile tow for my 1998 GMC 3500 dually. Tow company agreed to check brakes for no charge. However they have minimized any effect on brake system
    Besides the burning odor for three days brakes are now squeezing at stops. I believe rotors were warped. The 17 mile one way tow took them two hours so obviously driver had an issue besides his extra lengthy lunch. They have truck now and I’m anxiously awaiting their inspection results

    Reply
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