What Happens When You Drive With the Parking Brake On?

How does a parking brake work?

The parking brake, also known as the “emergency brake,” is intended to supplement the main braking system to support the car when parked or in times of an emergency, hence the name. What that means is that the parking brake doesn’t use the same hydraulic system as the normal brakes, like when you push the brake pedal. Instead, the parking brake is activated via a cable system that locks the rear brakes when you pull the lever or button on the center console.

Electronic parking brake on a 2020 Honda Civic Sed
Electronic parking brake on a 2020 Honda Civic Sedan | Honda

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When parking along a curb

The primary reasons to use your emergency brake all involve, in some way, a parking scenario. Richard Reina, Product Training Director at CARiD.com, adds parking along a curb to the list. “When parking along a curb in close quarters, use of the parking brake can help prevent transmission damage if your car gets nudged or bumped in its parking spot,” he explains. Plus, it can prevent your car from rolling if it gets hit.

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If you have a brake-fluid leak

According to Chaya M. Milchtein of MechanicShopFemme.com, “If you lose hydraulic power in your brakes (i.e., if you get a fluid leak), you can slowly apply your parking brake to help you get control of your vehicle.” Admittedly, this is not a perfect fix, says Milchtein, “as the parking brakes are intended to keep your car in one place and not stop a running car because they only engage the rear wheels.” But desperate times call for desperate measures, and this is one of those times—and something that can help you until you’re able to pull over safely. Don’t miss these 23 car gadgets that make driving safer.

Every single day

Applying the parking brake every day can take pressure off the transmission and other drive components, including the parking prawl, which locks up your transmission when you park but, of course, could always malfunction. According to Firestone, you should actually engage your emergency brake before shifting into Park “to limit the stress that’s put on your transmission, provide you with an extra layer of security, help prevent parking failure, and even prevent transmission repairs down the road. Think of the two systems like a dynamic duo—they’re better together!” Does your car have these 16 safety features no vehicle should be without?

What Happens if You Use the Emergency Brake While Driving?

It’s something that’s crossed all of our minds, wh

It’s something that’s crossed all of our minds, what would happen if you pulled your parking brake while you’re driving down the road? Well, under most conditions the result wouldn’t be pretty.

If you are traveling at lower speeds, think less than 10 miles per hour, and you pull your parking brake at full force, it’s going to be no different than you slamming on your brakes.

At higher speeds, it’ll lock your back brakes up, and you’re going to skid down the road. You could potentially “fishtail” as well, and when that happens, the rear end of your vehicle slides out to one side.

Of course, this is if you completely activate your emergency brake while driving. The other option you have is to gently apply your emergency brake while you’re driving. This is also known as feathering the brakes, and it’ll allow you to control the stop. However, this method is far less effective than your traditional brakes.

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When parking on a hill

The classic and most obvious time to use your emergency brake is when you need to park your car on an incline. Whether you leave your car facing uphill or downhill, you will want to use the emergency brake to ensure you don’t find your vehicle at the bottom of the hill!

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What Happens If You Drive With Your Parking Brake On?

When you forget to disengage the parking brake before taking off, it can’t cause any permanent damage if you have driven for a short distance or at a low speed. But, if you drive for too long at high speeds, say one or two hours at 80 miles, it will cause some serious havoc. No matter if you use the electric handbrake or the cable brake, if you’re driving with parking brake on, you’ll run into the same problems:

Driving with e brake on can damage the braking sys
Driving with e brake on can damage the braking system (Photo: pinterest.com)

Destruction Of The Rotors And Pads

Driving with the parking brake fully engaged for an extended period of time. Many parts can wear out prematurely due to the immense friction and heat the braking system generates. The faster you drive, the quicker these parts will get damaged.

It may lead to wheel-bearing damage along with toasting the rear binders. Be ready to repair or change the shock absorber, caliper, axle seal, and a few other components. Additionally, the engine undergoes a high amount of strain.

Overheated Brake Fluid

The heat from the friction can get into the brake fluid and can bring it to a boiling point given that you are driving at high speeds for a long time. Although, boiling brake fluid is a rare incident. The most common effect is a glaze on the brake pads, which makes them slippery. As a result, the braking system has to work harder to stop the vehicle.

If you don’t repeat the mistake, the glaze will disappear over a period of time and allow the braking system to work normally.

>> Read more: The Facts about Changing the Brake Fluid

Damaged Brakes

It depends on the extent of applying the parking brake. If it is lightly applied, the brakes won’t suffer much despite you driving the car around. But, driving the vehicle after applying the parking brake all the way in may cause the braking system sizeable damage.

Some Other Notes When Using The Parking Brake

As analyzed above, you can see the effects of driving with parking brake on. Here are some tips for you when using the e-brake:

  • Remember to release the handbrake before driving the car.
  • Regularly check and maintain the parking brake system to avoid brake jams due to dry oil or rust. The periodic maintenance of the brake helps to remove the dust on the surface, detect errors in the brake system. And avoid the risk of brake pads getting stuck, the brake not sticking, and causing unsafe use.
  • When detecting the brake is not working properly, check the brakes, otherwise, change the brake pads (for vehicles with drum brakes).
  • Pull the parking brake properly: The habit of not pulling the parking brake when stopping or parking is not only the cause of the quick failure of the handbrake but also the main cause of car accidents. Besides, many drivers when driving automatic transmission cars have the habit of going to P. Turning off the engine and then pulling the car’s handbrake. According to experts, this habit can affect transmission in the long run. Safety instructions of automakers when parking with an automatic transmission vehicle are to step on the foot brake – pull the handbrake – on P – turn off the engine.

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