As we talked about in our last article, you should always set the parking brake when you park. Your parking brake maintains a stronger hold than the prawl, making it a better option for holding your car in place while parked.
The most important part of using the brake is remembering to disengage it before driving again! In most vehicles, you by release the parking brake by doing the opposite of engaging– Trying to drive with the parking brake on can cause hefty damage to your vehicle. If you’re diligent, the process of setting the parking brake when you park and disengaging the parking brake before you drive should become a habit, so you should never forget to do either part.
But… if you do forget… accidentally, of course…. what happens to your car? And what should you do?
Driving With the Parking Brake
First, it is possible to drive with the parking brake on. Lots of people only apply the parking brake very lightly when they park, as opposed to engaging it all the way, so the engine can overcome the brake and move the wheels. If you do accidentally leave the brake applied when you start driving, you should notice the big red light that says “BRAKE” lit up on the dashboard. But, if you don’t see that right away, you might notice that the car seems a little sluggish or sense an odd burning smell after driving for a few minutes.
The Damage… and Danger
When the parking brake is on, even a little bit, it’s as if you’re riding the brakes or driving with your foot on the brake pedal. Anytime the brakes are applied, they create friction between the pads and the rotors which produces heat. So, if you leave the brakes on for a long time, especially if you’re driving at a high speed, your brakes will produce a lot of heat. Eventually, the heat will get transferred to the brake fluid, and the brake fluid will boil. Boiling brake fluid can’t transmit pressure to the brakes so the brakes won’t respond when pressed.
If you do drive with the parking brake on, ask your mechanic to take a look at the brakes to make sure you didn’t overheat them to the point where you did some damage. When you drive with the parking brake even partially on for several miles it’s possible to warp a drum or disc, or even cause the lining’s adhesive to fail or crack. Any of these parts would need to be fixed by a professional technician as soon as possible.
At V&F our expert mechanics use latest diagnostic equipment, and high-quality CARQUEST auto parts, to make sure we get the job done right. Plus, our auto repair services are backed by an industry-leading 3 year / 36,000-mile warranty on parts and labor. Call us today at (413) 314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.