Driving With Emergency Brake On – What Will Happen To Your Car

No matter how skilled they are, almost all drivers occasionally forget to deactivate the emergency brake before they start driving.

If you are also one of them, you might wonder what can happen when you are driving with emergency brake on. Let’s find out with our post!

What Is An Emergency Brake?

driving with emergency brake on
Emergency Brake

The emergency brake, which is a component of your vehicle’s normal braking system, works separately from the primary brake system to prevent rolling away.

It, often referred to as an e-brake, hand brake, or parking brake, was initially intended to be used in the event that the vehicle’s primary stopping system failed.

Your emergency brake, however, lacks sufficient stopping strength in today’s automobiles to stop the vehicle.

Nowadays, the parking brake is mostly utilized to keep the car in one position when it is parked.

For the purpose of locking the wheels in place, the emergency brake overrides the hydraulic braking system of your car. Cables connected to the e-brake lever are utilized by this mechanical device.

When an automobile’s drum brakes are engaged, a different lever is pulled, applying pressure to your brake shoes to keep the car in place.

When using the parking brake on a car with disc brakes, a corkscrew mechanism is triggered, which causes a piston to be pushed into the brake pads, stopping the automobile.

What Can Happen When Driving With Emergency Brake On

can you drive with emergency brake on
what happen if you drive with emergency brake on

If you drive with the parking brake on, you will soon notice a burning smell, glazing brakes, misaligned E-brake cable, or even a fire. Each type of car will display different aftermath, which will be described below.

Burning Smell

You won’t be able to accelerate as quickly as usual when your parking brake is engaged while you’re going down the road, and if you drive too far, you can start to smell the burning scent.

Due to excessive friction between your pads and the drums or rotors, your pads may be overheating and giving out this odor.

However, even though this is a typical sign of driving with the parking brake engaged, it doesn’t fully explain what might occur to the system.

Potential Fire

This is undoubtedly the worst-case situation, and it is something that has actually happened. Because of how much heat friction produces, overheating brakes can cause a fire.

A vehicle fire is the last thing you will want to happen, yet it is unavoidable if you are using the parking brake while driving.

Brakes Glazing

This is undoubtedly the most typical and severe sign of using your parking brake while driving.

The excessive friction causes the brakes to overheat, and when they return to normal operating temperature, the rotors/drums and pads may become coated in a “glaze.”

The pavement becomes slicker than it ought to be under that situation, which significantly lessens your car’s ability to stop.

Sometimes regular use can remove this glazing and return your automobile’s usual stopping power, but other times you will need to replace the brake pads and drums/rotors.

Misalignment Of The E-Brake Cable

The highly precise adjustment that controls your parking brake is located where the brake wire connects to your brake lever.

If the parking brake is applied too tightly, the brakes won’t totally disengage when you release it, but if it is applied too loosely, they won’t fully activate.

As the parking brake pads deteriorate from constant use, the adjustment may become too loose and faulty. When that occurs, you will need to re-adjust your parking to provide the necessary stopping power.

For Automatic Transmission Cars

Driving an automobile with an automatic transmission while the emergency brake is engaged causes the transmission, which is mechanically equipped with its own radiator, to overheat significantly.

The friction used to change gears will also begin to wear down soon.

Sometimes, you might find the car overheated and not start.

For Manual Cars

Due to the intense friction created by the brake pads, your brake cylinders will start to overheat. There is a chance that the clutch disc will sustain major damage.

For RWD Cars

Nothing awful will happen in an RWD (short for rear-wheel-drive) vehicle. The rear wheels should not rotate when you start to drive because they are held back.

An RWD vehicle that has the emergency brake engaged is nearly impossible to start.

Moreover, suppose it succeeds; your brake is worn-out, and the cabin will be filled with the lingering stench of burnt brake pads.

For FWD Cars

Suppose your emergency brake is functioning properly; moving the FWD (front-wheel-drive) automobile will be difficult. However, if it is not, the vehicle will move.

The pads will wear out and become progressively more worn when your brake is in use.

Also, the components can fail fast as a result of the intense friction that is created, and the wheel bearings will be damaged.

Signs That You’re Using The Emergency Brake While Driving

It is common for people to forget things like leaving keys inside the car, using the emergency brake while driving, etc. If you find yourself in this situation, some signs that indicate your e-brake is still engaged:

  • The parking brake light on
  • Steering-wheel vibration
  • Substantial handling reduction
  • The vehicle won’t move forward
  • Reduced thrust from the engine
  • Unnecessary noise
  • The cabin had a pronounced charred scent

It is challenging not to notice and experience these symptoms. However, you might find it possible to miss the active parking brake in the snow and rain.

What To Do After Driving With Emergency Brake On

can you drive with parking brake on
What Do You Need To Do After Driving With Parking Brake On

Depending on how much brake pressure you apply, the outcomes if you do manage to drive while using the parking brake will be determined.

Your brake system will probably be alright if you merely raise the parking brake a few ticks.

But there might have been more harm done if you had fully pulled it up. To make sure the system will operate as intended, having a certified mechanic examine it is the go-to move.

Additionally, in case your car is more recent and has an electronic parking brake that is engaged by a little switch on the center console, you’re in luck since the system will let you know the e-brake is on via the indicator light.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Parking Brake And Emergency Brake The Same?

Yes. An emergency brake, also known as a parking brake, serves as a backup braking mechanism. You can find it either in between the two front seats or on the left of the pedals for the brake and gas.

Can Using The Emergency Brake While Driving Harm Your Brakes?

Generally speaking, whether traveling at low speeds or a short distance, keeping the parking brake engaged while driving doesn’t result in any serious long-term issues.

Still, moving with the parking brake applied for an extended period might lead to problems since the friction produced by driving faster generates more heat.

How Long Is It Safe To Leave The Emergency Brake Engaged?

The parking brake shouldn’t be left engaged for longer than a few days. This is so that the brake system, which is a backup for your car’s hydraulic brakes, will function properly.

To hold the car still, it employs a chain that, when pushed or engaged, locks the back wheels. Pulling a lever at the vehicle’s center console opens the handbrake in older vehicles.

The Bottom Line

You might not even notice that you are driving with emergency brake on.When you are in this situation, this will indicate that the emergency brake is in poor condition, and you must check it first.

Additionally, we discussed other consequences above, so it is best to inspect them if you drove in this manner.

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