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I hadn't driven for a few years and just started driving again. At first all was well, however then I started noticing that the car kept pulling and was acting funny at times. At times I noticed significant burning smells.

Later in the day, a friend got into my car and pointed out that I had been driving with the handbrake on and I suddenly realised what was causing these problems. I had been driving with the handbrake on and it seems that this lead to the unusual performance and burning smells.

What damage do you think the car has sustained and how will it affect me/the car?

Though the car hasn't caught on fire, there was the burning smell etc. Should I just ignore it and drive properly now or do I need to take it to a garage?

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I would advise you have the brakes checked over.. Depending on how hard the handbrake was on and how hot everything has been.. You may just have worn down the pads/shoes a little, however a bigger issue is that the braking surfaces themselves have likely been very hot indeed. This can not only glaze the braking surfaces making them less effective, but it can also warp the brake disks/drums which can cause vibration in the brake system when braking. This can be a bigger problem when braking on wet or slippery surfaces as it can decrease the vehicles stability.

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