Tips, Tricks & Trends

What Happens If You Accidentally Drive With the Parking Brake On?

Have you ever accidentally left the parking brake on when driving your car? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. And although it is a common occurrence, the downside is that it can easily lead to premature wear on your brakes as well as other brake component issues. So what exactly 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 Sedan
Electronic parking brake on a 2020 Honda Civic Sedan | Honda

RELATED: The Most Expensive Ways You’re Accidentally Damaging Your Car

What happens if you drive with the parking brake activated?

If you have tried pressing on the gas and brake pedals at the same time on a car (we don’t recommend doing that), then you’ll notice that the car won’t go anywhere. And if it does move, it will be very sluggish. The same thing happens when you drive with the parking brake on; the engaged brake will create friction while the wheels try to move.

According to Your Mechanic, driving for a short distance or at slow speeds with the parking brake on isn’t that big of a deal. But if you happen to drive at normal, or faster, speeds with the parking brake on, then heat and friction will build up and cause more issues. Most of the time, the heat will cause the brake pads to glaze and will make them less effective, but with some normal braking, the glaze will eventually wear off and your car will brake like normal. Also, the parking brake cables themselves could be damaged and in need of replacement.

woman driving car
(Photo by Chen Binjie/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Chen Binjie via Getty Images)

RELATED: 5 Habits to Break When Driving a Manual Transmission

What should you do after driving with the parking brake on?

If you do happen to drive with the parking brake on, then the resulting effects will depend on how much of the brake you applied. If you only pulled the parking brake up a few clicks, then chances are that the brake system will be fine. But if you pulled it all the way up, then there could have been more damage done.

Either way, you may want to get the system checked out by a qualified mechanic to ensure that it will work properly. The last thing you would want is for your car to roll down a hill because you have a broken parking brake systems.

car brakes being worked on
03 March 2020, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart: A car mechanic changes the brake disc of a Range Rover Evoque in a garage. Photo: Marijan Murat/dpa (Photo by Marijan Murat/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Also, if your car is newer and has an electronic-activated parking brake via a small switch on the center console, then you’re in luck because the system will likely beep at you and flash the parking brake icon on the instrument panel to warn you that it’s on. But if you do happen to still drive with it on, then you should get it checked out by a mechanic as well.