Earlier today, I stopped a little too far from an entrance I meant to use. I had to reverse to get back to it.

I unconsciously pulled the handbrake up when I stopped (I think it is habit) so when I put the car in reverse, it refused to move.

The road surface was very uneven so I thought the car just needed some coaxing to get moving. For this reason I depressed the accelerator quite far because the car was having an issue moving. I had not realised that the handbrake was up at this point.

My friend in the passenger seat realised and alerted me before he put the handbrake down.

I am very worried that I may have damaged the car in some way.

Since this incident, it seems to be moving and stopping as normal. At first it made a bit of a weird rubbing sound when I stepped on the brake afterwards but I drove a further 20-25km since then and it has given me no indication of trouble.

Is my concern and worry necessary?

  • 3
    I don't think this is a duplicate, because in this question, the asker "depressed the accelerator quite far", which the asker of the other question didn't do. That seems like a significant enough difference that this question needs to be answered separately. May 1, 2019 at 16:59
  • 3
    If anything you might have actually adjusted them.... which is a good thing
    – Old_Fossil
    May 1, 2019 at 17:02
  • 1
    I once towed a stranded 4wd out of a river, with my handbrake on. Smelled a bit, probably added some extra wear, but overall unnoticeable. You're fine.
    – Criggie
    May 2, 2019 at 12:32

2 Answers 2


You are not likely to have caused any damage in this situation.

If you had driven 25 or 30 km with the handbrake on then yes there would be damage.

  • Thank you very much. I appreciate this a lot. It puts my mind at ease. This is definitely a mistake I'd like to never make again.
    – MoKa
    May 1, 2019 at 11:44
  • 4
    Just to add, you can check for the amount of wear caused by serving your brakes (pads, rotors, etc). Even if you had driven for 25+ KM its likely to only cause sever brake wear which is easily remedied. Causing the caliper to seize or damaging the handbrake mechanism itself is possible but I've never heard of it happening.
    – RyanS
    May 1, 2019 at 15:30
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    @RyanS I know of a car that went out on road test and the tester came back saying it was down on power and would not exceed 60mph... We were looking at the car behind him where the discs were glowing red with smoke rising from the rear wheels - he had forgotten the handbrake... New discs, calipers, pads and fluid replaced & a severely cross customer...
    – Solar Mike
    May 1, 2019 at 15:38
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    I once drove a hire car from Miami airport with the parking brake on. After a couple of miles, I noticed and released it. It didn't make a noticeable improvement to the performance... May 1, 2019 at 16:09

It depends... But a few kilometers might be enough to vitrify your brake-lining nonetheless. Friction can be so powerful to use it for welding, if you might know.

I made a similar stupid mistake. Leaving a ferry from Germany to Denmark, I forgot to release the handbrake of my old fully stuffed and packed Volvo V40. Because of the load, I did not perceive that the acceleration rate was unusual, because it felt already like driving a loaded truck.

After 10-15 km at 100 km/h the Volvo started to smell a bit, like someone burning rubber. Then it grew a little louder like the mentioned rubbing sound of the OP. I suddenly saw the red little light in the controls... --> Parking Brake not released. OMG. Stopping asap and telling the family not to blow the life-jackets, blow the exit doors and use the storm whistle, I looked at the back wheels and smelt the bad fumes of stupidity. I was lucky the car did not catch flames, I thought.

Some 800 € later and laughter of my mechanic, it was okay then. It just damaged the rotor and the brake lining.

Your car will be okay. But perhaps you should not rely on your parking brake. Perhaps let your mechanic have a closer look. Because you yourself might be in danger, because it could pin you or someone on something like a fence or your garage, leaving one unable to breathe or roll over a cute little kitten (or dog, or your child, insert your dearest person here).

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