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Emergency (Parking) Brake Stuck – What To Do?

The emergency parking brake is an essential car safety feature that drivers shouldn't neglect. A stuck or jammed parking brake can lead to dangerous scenarios on the road. So we researched and asked automobile experts what to do when this happens.

According to professionals, there are several ways to deal with a stuck parking brake. Turning the engine on would help a stuck parking brake during cold weather, warming it up and thereby melting any ice formations. Manually rocking the car can help release jammed brakes free.

In this article, we will discuss the different reasons that could lead to a stuck emergency parking brake. Additionally, we will discuss some preventive measures to avoid a stuck emergency parking brake. So be sure to continue reading to find out more.

Driver's hand pulling the hand brake in a car, Emergency (Parking) Brake Stuck - What To Do?

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What Causes A Stuck Emergency Parking Brake And What To Do?

Car driver pulling handbrake lever in the car on the parking

This section will discuss the four common causes of a stuck emergency parking brake and what to do when facing these issues.

Freezing Weather

Cold weather is bad for cars in general. It's not uncommon for the parking brake to freeze in place. When that happens, you need to find a way to warm up the affected area.

Turning on your car's engine and slowly revving it up should help thaw the emergency parking brake. Then, carefully disengage the parking brake repeatedly to help break off any ice formations.

Another way to deal with a frozen emergency parking brake is with a hairdryer. With the help of the car's manual, locate the wheel connecting to the parking brake. Then direct the heat of the hairdryer towards the affected area.

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Corrosion

Leaving the emergency parking brake unused for long periods can lead to corrosion and rust building up. When that happens, you'll find it challenging to engage the parking brake.

To prevent this, make sure to use the emergency parking brake when parking (if you have a manual parking brake). This is to prevent corrosion from building up.

If you're already in a situation where rust and corrosion lead to a stuck emergency parking brake, try repeatedly driving your car forward and backward. This frees up the cables from rust. 

Additionally, apply a protective coating using a multi-purpose spray over the brake system if your car has gone through wet roads or rainstorms. This is to help protect it from rusts that could lead to a stuck emergency parking brake.

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Prolonged Usage

It's not a good idea to leave your emergency parking brake engaged for long periods. Several reasons could lead to a stuck parking brake, such as rust and ice forming, among others. This can also lead to one of the cables breaking if left unattended for long periods.

The solution to this issue is the same as the ones previously stated. Turning on your car engine and rocking your car back and forth should help free up the brakes. But in some cases, you may need to bring your vehicle to an auto shop for a more thorough inspection.

Rigid Application

It is common for some drivers to apply or engage their parking brakes with force; this can ruin the whole brake system. The emergency brake system is delicate, and using too much force would lead to its internal components breaking down.

When you suspect this is the cause, slowly engage and disengage the parking brake to see if it will move. If it doesn't, immediately have the car checked by a local mechanic. Do not try to force it, as you may cause additional damage to the system.

When To Use An Emergency Parking Brake?

Woman hand pull hand brake of a car

Some people only use the emergency parking brake when they're on a slope or using a manual transmission car. But in reality, it's essential to use the emergency parking brake often.

The reason why those who own an automatic transmission car don't use the emergency parking brake often is due to the existence of the parking pawl. This device locks the gearbox, preventing your vehicle from rolling off.

However, this is only a temporary solution. The metal pin inside the parking pawl can easily break with time. Applying the emergency brake will help keep the car from moving when the pins wear out. 

Also, it's best to get into the habit of using the emergency parking brake no matter where you may be. Even if you're on a flat surface, applying the parking brake is best to prevent your car from moving. It also prevents rust and corrosion from forming.

Constant usage of the emergency parking brake would also prevent stress on the transmission system. This helps keep the car in working condition at all times. Additionally, it prevents those same components from deteriorating.

Can You Drive With a Stuck Parking Brake?

Businessman driving car

You can drive with a stuck parking brake, but that doesn't mean you should.

There are several reasons why you shouldn't do this, and they all boil down to the fact that you can get into an accident. To a milder extent, it can further damage your car's brake system.

Internal components grind against each other when you drive with a stuck parking brake. This produces friction and heat, two things you don't want your car to make excessive amounts of. Smoke and a burning smell aren't that far off during that situation, and a fire might result.

And if the road you are on is slippery or it's raining heavily, parking your vehicle could be challenging due to the slick conditions. A properly working parking brake will help you park and make sure that your vehicle will not move involuntarily. 

How To Prevent A Stuck Emergency Parking Brake?

Handbrake with copy space

As mentioned throughout this article, the best way to prevent a stuck emergency parking brake is by using it regularly.

On top of that, don't exert too much force when driving to prevent components like cables from jamming. Excessive force will lead to serious wear and tear on the components.

During cold weather, it's best to outfit your car properly. Winterizing your car is the best solution during such weather. Additionally, make sure to disengage and apply the brakes now and then in the winter if you're not driving your car around.

Doing so would prevent rust from forming that could potentially ruin the components. Apply a lubricant when necessary to help fight off rust and corrosion.

Another way to prevent a situation with a stuck emergency parking brake is by taking your car to an auto shop. Yearly maintenance will help your car stay in shape and prevent such issues from popping up.

This would help your car to last for decades down the line while still putting out optimal efficiency.

How Much Does It Cost To Repair An Emergency Parking Brake?

Generally, it would cost you an average of $300 to repair a stuck emergency brake. But, depending on the severity of the situation, that number could jump up to around $500 in some cases.

With an emergency parking brake kit, you could attempt to do repairs at home. However, if you have no prior knowledge of automotive repair, then it's best to leave such fixes to automobile technicians.

This is to prevent any further damage to the components of the emergency parking brake. Furthermore, the different designs of car brands, their age, and models can also cause confusion for the inexperienced.

What could be applicable for one car does not necessarily mean it will be the same for others. This could be overwhelming.

Having an expert do it for you will save you time, energy, and in the long run, money, and you will also be assured that the repairs will be done correctly.

 

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Final Thoughts

car pulling the emergency brake

The best way to avoid a stuck emergency parking brake is to use it regularly and carefully. On top of that, proper car maintenance is key, so that you don't find yourself in the unfortunate situation of forcing your emergency parking brake to work.

If you enjoyed reading through this article, consider checking out the links below. They go into even more detail about parking brakes on certain cars. So if you own a vehicle of the same brand, the information they provide would be useful.

How To Turn Off The Parking Brake Mazda CX-5

How To Turn Off The Parking Brake On A Jeep Renegade