Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Drove with parking brake on

What to do if you drove with parking brake on

Check your brake components if you drove with parking brake on

You accidentally hit the parking brake pedal and knock it down a few clicks. Or you release the parking brake lever and it doesn’t go down all the way. Then you notice a low brake pedal, smell burning brakes and realize you drove with parking brake on. Did you do any damage? Possibly

Driving with the parking brake on overheats the friction material, the brake caliper or wheel cylinder, the rotor or drum and the brake fluid. If you notice a low pedal or your foot goes to the floor after driving with your parking brake on, chances are the heat was so intense that you boiled the brake fluid.

Check for discoloration on the brake drum or rotor

If the brakes overheated to the point where you discolored the rotor or brake drum, those components must be replaced.

drove with parking brake on

Overheated brake rotor with discoloration and heat cracks

Check the condition of the friction material

Excessive heat can cause brake pads to crack

drove with parking brake on

Overheated, discolored and cracked brake pad

and separate from the backing plate. Those pieces eventually fall off, reducing your braking effectiveness. High heat can also cause the friction material to glaze, which is scorched material that no longer brakes properly. Replace friction material that has cracks or glaze.

Check the brake caliper and wheel cylinders

High heat can damage caliper and wheel cylinder rubber components. Check the calipers and wheel cylinder for proper application and release. If they apply and release without binding, they’re probably ok.

Flush brake fluid

Brake fluid is made with a base component of lubricating polyglycols and solvent polyglycol ethers. Those two components make up 95 to 98% of the brake fluid. The rest, the additive package, contains corrosion inhibitors, anti-oxidants and anti-foaming agents. The additives are the components MOST affected by overheating. That’s precisely why you should flush the brake fluid after an overheating event.

©, Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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