Updated at: 16-07-2022 - By: Lucas

Driving with the emergency brake on is a common mistake for even the most experienced drivers, who often forget to switch it off before getting behind the wheel.

When we fail to use the emergency brake, most of us merely put the brake pedal all the way down or turn it off and drive away.

Inexperienced and panic-stricken drivers, on the other hand, will instantly begin to check the automobile for damage, even if the brake lever is just slightly up, even if the vehicle moves. That’s why we’re pondering the following question.

The brake lever can be lifted by as little as one or two clicks and have little effect. There is, however, a danger that the car could be damaged. In this paradigm, the duration of movement is critical.

What consequences are if we drive with the emergency brake on?

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Before delving into the ramifications of driving with the emergency brake engaged, it’s important to establish its purpose.

Emergency brakes assist the car keep in place, especially on rough or sloping terrain. Having a competent emergency braking system on a car with an automatic transmission is essential for preventing inadvertent movement of the vehicle.

If the car has a manual transmission, the driver can simply adjust the gears to leave the vehicle on an incline. In contrast to an automatic transmission, this will keep the vehicle from rolling and cause no harm to the manual transmission.

Leaving the shifter in a gear while the car is parked also does not ensure that the vehicle will not move accidentally. Cars with manual transmissions struggle to maintain control on steep slopes. There is a risk of rolling if the angle is large and the automobile is left parked in this position.

On a sloping road, it isn’t a good idea to leave the automobile in first gear. The transmission is put under additional strain. The mechanism will be subjected to more force as the angle of inclination increases.

This is especially true of older manual transmissions, where the gears can suddenly disengage when the vehicle is put to the test. However, modern emergency brakes are applied in a variety of methods, the lever being the most common. A pedal or electronic button can be used to apply the handbrake.

Exactly what happens if you neglect to apply the emergency brake?

If a rear-wheel-drive vehicle experiences problems, we’ll talk about those, then about what a front-wheel-drive vehicle might experience, and finally about whether the vehicles have manual or automated transmissions.

Driving a manual transmission car with the emergency brake on

Because of the high coefficient of friction between the brake pads and the cylinder walls, the brake cylinders will overheat. Clutch disc damage is a real possibility.

Driving an automatic transmission car with the emergency brake on

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When using the handbrake in an automatic transmission vehicle, the results are different. A number of additional elements are also at play.

With the emergency brake engaged, driving a car with an automatic transmission might result in a significant overheating of the transmission itself, since it has its own radiator. The frictions that make shifting gears possible will also begin to wear out at an alarming rate.

Driving a rear-wheel-drive car with the emergency brake on

Nothing can go wrong with a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. If the rear wheels aren’t turning as soon as you start driving, something is wrong. With the emergency brake engaged, it is nearly impossible to start a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. Even if it works, the brakes are worn and the cabin will be filled with the odor of burnt brake pads.

A manual, rear-wheel drive car is the safest option when it comes to the implications of driving with the emergency brake applied.

Driving a front-wheel-drive car with the emergency brake on

Things work a little differently in a car with a front-wheel drive. The car will be difficult to move if the emergency brake is in good working order, but it will move if it is not. When the brake is engaged, the wear on the pads begins to accelerate. As a result of the high levels of friction, the parts are prone to premature failure. Additional damage will occur to wheel bearings.

The car could also suffer from the following consequences in addition to those listed above. If the brakes aren’t up to snuff, the automobile will still move forward without your knowledge, as I previously stated. Imagining how an ordinary car tries to tow a truck and pull it is all that is needed to do this. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the vehicle refuses to budge from its spot.

  • The engine and transmission will be affected by an increased load;
  • The tires will quickly and unevenly wear out;
  • The brake pads, brake discs, cylinders, and calipers will overheat;
  • The hub bearings will actively wear out.

Symptoms of driving with the emergency brake on

  • Vibration on the steering wheel;
  • A significant decrease in handling;
  • Car refuses to accelerate;
  • Reduced engine thrust;
  • Extraneous noise;
  • A strong smell of burnt in the cabin.

Ignoring these symptoms is quite impossible. Rain and snow could make it difficult to recognize the emergency brake is engaged.


When you want to drive the automobile, there’s less chance you won’t notice or feel that the emergency brake is engaged. Driven with the emergency brake engaged, however, indicates that the vehicle’s brakes aren’t in good working order, necessitating an inspection of the emergency brake in addition to the others we’ve mentioned.