I drove 2 miles with emergency brake on, should I be worried? Your car feels slow and shaky, like it doesn’t want to move. You suddenly realize you left the parking brake on by mistake. It’s easy to forget to release it, especially if you don’t use it every time you park.
After my car’s recent visit to the mechanic, they set the parking brake, a feature I seldom use. So, when I started driving, I didn’t realize it was engaged. By the time I had covered around 2-3 miles, I caught a glimpse of the brake light at a stoplight, and I promptly released the brake. Later on, when I reached home, there was a distinct odor around the car. I’m fairly certain that driving with the parking brake engaged was the culprit.
Just the day before, I was on the highway for about half an hour, zipping at speeds close to 60 mph. I sensed something amiss with the brakes and realized the emergency brake was on all along. My car, a 2001 Sienna Toyota, doesn’t have functional indication lights, so I missed the warning. The brakes emitted a burnt smell. After letting them cool off for a while, the mechanic took it for a spin and assured me that it was still drivable.
I understand that you need validation to feel at ease driving it later today. Let me explain what happens when you drive with the parking brake (also known as the emergency brake) on.
How Does Emergency Brake Work?
Parking brakes, also known as emergency brakes, were initially meant as a backup for the main brakes in your car. Unlike the regular brakes that use hydraulic power when you press the brake pedal, the parking brake relies on a cable system to lock the rear wheels and prevent the car from moving.
Certain cars have a parking brake that you activate by lifting a lever in the center console. But many modern cars have an electronic parking brake.
Instead of pulling a lever to engage the cable, the electronic parking brake does it automatically without a lever. Both achieve the same goal but use slightly different methods to do so.
Drove 2 Miles with Emergency Brake On: Should I Be Worried?
You should not be worried. Let me explain what happens when you drive with the parking brake on. If you have ridden a bike, you know how the brakes stop the wheel. You can pedal with the brakes on, but it’s harder, and the bike does not move easily. It works the same way in your car.
When you drive with the parking brake on, it is similar to trying to ride a bike while squeezing the brake handles. Your car can move, but it feels sluggish because the brakes are holding it back.
The longer you drive with the parking brake on by mistake, the more potential harm you can cause to your vehicle. If you only went 2 miles with the parking brake on, you likely caused just a little extra wear to the parts. There is no need to be overly concerned.
Are Your Brakes Damaged?
If you accidentally drive 2 miles with the parking brake on, it can really hurt your brakes. The problem is the heat generated when the brake pads or shoes rub against the rotors or drums for a long time. This heat can harm and wear out these brake parts.
Usually, your car has a warning light on the dashboard to tell you if the parking brake is still on. So, if you see that light, do not ignore it.
If you have driven a long distance with the parking brake on and are worried about damage, get your brakes checked at your local auto care shop to make sure they’re still working okay.
What to Do After Driving with the Parking Brake On?
If you drove 2 miles with emergency brake on, what happens next depends on how much you used the brake. If you only pulled it up a little bit, everything should be okay. But if you pulled it all the way up, there might be more damage.
In any case, have a professional mechanic check your brake system to make sure it works correctly. You wouldn’t want your car to roll down a hill due to a broken parking brake.
If your car is newer and has an electronic parking brake with a small switch in the center console, you’re in luck. This system usually beeps and shows a warning on the dashboard if it’s on. But if you accidentally drive with it on, it’s still a good idea to have a mechanic take a look.
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