Does Driving With Parking Brake On Damage the Brake?

How many times does it happen that you start driving the car only to realize that it appears to be dragging? It happens due to driving with parking brake on and it is an easy mistake to make. People often forget to disengage it when they are absentminded or driving a vehicle they are not used to.

Does driving with parking brake on damage your vehicle? Let’s get the answer along with why you need to put on the brake, the symptoms occur when you accidentally keep driving with the brake on, and the consequences.

Why Do You Need To Put The Parking Brake On?

Applying the parking brake is necessary when you park the car on a slanted road or steep incline. Normally, leaving the vehicle on gear after switching off the engine is enough to keep it standstill. But, it can move if the shifter does not function for some reasons and allow the gears to let loose.

The brake is also a lifesaver when ‘hang driving’ – which is driving slowly uphill or a steep incline with frequent stops. Parking brakes keep your vehicle in place, especially the ones with a manual transmission, in multi-level parking spaces and cities where there are high roads with multiple traffic stops.

driving with parking brake on
Parking brake keeps the vehicle stable.

The parking brakes also help the vehicles to stay steady on icy surfaces. You can also apply it when the car is on a flat ground because even that kind of surfaces has slight inclines. The best practice to keep your car safe anywhere is to use the parking brake and engage the first gear (manual transmission) or park (automatic transmission).

The Symptoms A Car Shows When Driving With Parking Brake On

Many drivers forget to release the parking brake before kicking off the engine. The first sign the car will show is the lack of power. You will feel that something is dragging it behind and you cannot run it with the full power.
When you will drive the car for too long without disengaging the brake, the brake pad will get so hot that you will smell a sharp burning odor.

What Happens If You Keep Driving With Parking Brake On?

When you forget disengaging the parking brake before taking off, the braking pads or shoes drag against the rotors or drums, creating a huge amount of friction and heat. It won’t cause any permanent damage have you driven for a short distance or at a low speed. A standard deceleration system can withstand a tremendous amount of heat. But, if you drive for too long at high speeds, say one or two hours at 80 miles, it will cause some serious havoc:

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.

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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.

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.

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What Measures To Take To Prevent The Damage?

You don’t need to worry if you drive a front-wheel car. The vehicle is unlikely to move with the parking brake on, and even if it does, you will immediately know because of the dragging of the tires.

driving with parking brake on
Keeping the parking brake on can damage the braking system.

The new models of cars and trucks have an indicator light that comes on if the driver starts driving with parking brake on. Some latest models come with an electric parking brake. Such a braking system disengages on its own when the vehicle starts moving, preventing any type of damage to happen.

The old models of rear-wheel-drive vehicles can be a problem though. The engine does not need to put much effort to overturn the brake. In addition, the vehicle will also run so smoothly that you won’t notice the problem until there is a huge damage or failure of several components. The only solution, in this case, is to be careful and check whether the parking brake is on before kicking off the engine.