parking brake engaged while driving

Parking Brake Engaged While Driving – What to Do Next!

Having the “parking brake engaged while driving” is a concern many drivers face, often accompanied by panic and uncertainty. Yes, driving with the parking brake on can be risky, and immediate attention is crucial. So, it is worth knowing the intricacies of this situation, from understanding its causes to preventing unforeseen engagements. With the help of this article, grasp the importance of your vehicle’s parking brake system, the potential hazards it can introduce when improperly used, and the steps to ensure safe driving!

What to Do If Parking Brake Engaged While Driving?

The first course of action if your parking brake is engaged while driving is to stay calm and safely disengage it. Here is a detailed explanation of how to act in such a situation. 

  1. Stay calm and avoid panic: Remember, sudden moves might endanger you and other road users. So, the first thing is not to make any fuss.
  2. Pull over safely: As soon as you suspect that the parking brake is on, find a safe place to pull over. Then, use your indicators, check mirrors, and ensure you’re not stopping suddenly in a risky location.
  3. Disengage the parking brake: Once safely pulled over, press down on the parking brake lever or push the button (depending on your vehicle) to release it.
  4. Check for warning lights: Your dashboard may have a warning light indicating the parking brake is on. If it remains lit after disengaging, there might still be an underlying issue that needs a mechanic’s attention.
  5. Inspect for damage: If you’ve driven a significant distance with the parking brake engaged, check for any signs of overheating or wear in the brake components next. This could manifest as a burning smell or even visible smoke.
  6. Proceed with caution: If everything seems fine after inspection, proceed with your journey but remain cautious. If you notice anything unusual, like diminished brake performance, the best practice would be to seek professional help. 
  7. Consult a mechanic: Even if there’s no apparent damage, it’s advisable to have a mechanic inspect your vehicle soon after. The reason why, prolonged driving with the brake engaged can cause wear or even damage to brake components.

Remember, the parking brake’s primary function is to prevent the vehicle from moving when stationary. Engaging it while driving can exert undue stress on the braking system. Regularly ensure it’s disengaged before you start your journey, and always be attentive to the feel and performance of your vehicle on the road. 

What Causes Park Brake to Engage While Driving

What Causes Park Brake to Engage While Driving?

The primary reasons for a parking brake to engage while driving can be mechanical malfunctions or human mistakes. Knowing the reason will help you to solve the issue immediately. So, go through the points below.  

  1. Human Mistakes: Sometimes, drivers might unintentionally engage the parking brake and forget to disengage it before driving. This is especially common with manual handbrake levers, where a slight upward pull can engage it.
  2. Faulty Brake Sensors: Modern cars have electronic parking brakes, and a malfunctioning sensor might engage the brake unexpectedly. This can happen due to wear, dirt, or damaged wiring affecting the sensors.
  3. Compromised Brake Cable: Over time, the brake cable can become stretched or worn out. A compromised cable might not release the brake fully. As a result, the parking brake will partially engage while you are driving.
  4. Auto-engage Safety Features: Some vehicles have safety features that auto-engage the parking brake under certain conditions, such as when the car is on a slope, to prevent rolling. Whenever there is a malfunction in this system, it can cause unintended brake engagements.
  5. Malfunctioning Brake Caliper: The brake caliper can stick or seize, especially if it’s not maintained or is exposed to harsh conditions. This can cause the parking brake to remain engaged even if the lever or button is released.

How to Prevent Sudden Parking Brake Engagements in the Future?

The best way to prevent sudden parking brake engagements is to regularly maintain the braking system and be mindful of its use. If you are not sure where to start, here is a step-by-step guide. 

  1. Proper Engagement: First of all, always ensure that you’ve fully engaged or fully released the parking brake. Halfway positions can lead to unexpected engagements.
  2. Routine Inspection: Schedule regular brake system inspections. Professionals can identify wear, potential malfunctions, or parts in need of replacement.
  3. Address Faulty Sensors: If you have a vehicle that uses electronic parking brakes, be proactive about replacing sensors that show signs of wear or malfunction.
  4. Brake Cable Maintenance: Ensure the brake cable is free from corrosion and rust. You should apply lubricants as recommended to prevent sticking or stretching.
  5. Educate Yourself: Understand any auto-engage safety features of your vehicle and know when they activate. This can help you anticipate or prevent unintended brake engagements.
  6. Parking habits: Whenever parking, especially on slopes, ensure your car is in gear (for manual transmissions) or ‘Park’ (for automatics) before applying the parking brake. If you practice this habit, it will reduce the strain on your brake system.

Is It Safe to Drive with an Engaged Parking Brake?

No, driving with an engaged parking brake is not safe. Simply put, it can damage the braking system and threaten your safety on the road.

These are the potential issues you can expect if you neglect this case. 

  1. Overheating: The constant friction can cause the brake components to overheat, reducing their efficiency.
  2. Wear and tear: Increased wear on the brake pads and shoes means more frequent replacements.
  3. Reduced control: The uneven brake application can lead to unpredictable vehicle behavior, especially during turns.

Therefore, always ensure that your parking brake is fully disengaged before starting a drive to maintain optimal vehicle performance and safety.

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Video Credits – Auto Repair Guys

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