I’ll keep this brief as I’m mortified about it but this morning as I was parking for work I managed to park up into a little ledge, in an effort to straighten myself I reversed and my engine stalled.

I did this maybe three times before realizing the handbrake was on(because I was absolutely mortified about stalling the car so many times it never occurred to me to look at my handbrake!)

I could smell a little burning rubber smell but it was brief and only happened once. As soon as I got the handbrake off I was able to drive and park etc fine and my brakes did not feel spongy etc and no more burning smell. I’m just wondering what I should be doing at this point.

Should I ask a mechanic to have a look at my brakes/hand break?

I drive children in my car and don’t want my brakes to fail in the middle of a school run!

Thanks for any help in advance!

  • 1
    Thanks! Sorry yes by “conking the car” I mean the engine stalled. I might take it to the mechanics just to be safe! Thanks again for the response!
    – Cords
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 11:18
  • 7
    I would not take it to a mechanic, save the money, you could have not damaged anything backing up a short distance with parking brake on 4 times in a row.
    – Moab
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 14:28
  • 1
    Stick shift, or automatic? How hard were you pushing the gas pedal, normal, or extra? Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 20:14
  • 3
    @Cords Somehow, I feel the smell would be from the clutch, not the brakes.
    – Gabriel
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 21:00
  • 1
    The parking brake may need to be pulled tighter when parking from now on, but the rest of your brakes should be ok. And those are the important ones while driving, the parking brake should only be used for parking.
    – Mast
    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 7:51

1 Answer 1


I'm assuming »conking the car« means that the motor stalled? You should be fine. The usual risks from driving with the handbrake are to leave it on for longer so that it overheats (which can cause a fire). Just getting out of a parking spot and starting to drive should not have any lasting effects on the handbrake or your clutch (the latter of which may be what caused the smell).

If you have the time and are still unsure, having a mechanic look at the car should probably not be too much effort. I once did the same when I felt something weird in the brake pedal. At least my mechanic did that without having to make an appointment first or writing an invoice. No idea where you're based and whether that's common there. (Honestly, though; the parking brake isn't that strong to really impede the motor and stalling a few times isn't that much of a deal either, otherwise driving instructors would need a new car every 100,000 km ...)

  • 7
    seen a car that was driven at 60mph for 5 miles with handbrake on for a road test - tester reported that it was "sluggish"... new discs, pads and calipers, manager was not pleased... :) we thought it was hilarious as it sat with glowing rear discs...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 15:34
  • @SolarMike I feel like you'd have a legal case against a customer for doing that. I know that there are cases where a customer has crashed on a test drive where they were held liable for damages. This may be why many dealerships insist on having a dealer ride with the customer (and hopefully keep an eye on stuff like that). Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 19:33
  • @DarrelHoffman the tester was not a customer...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 19:34
  • @SolarMike Ah, sorry. I mistook "road test" to mean you worked at a dealership. If it was an employee at a repair shop, then it would be the customer who maybe has a legal claim, assuming they ever found out... Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 19:38
  • @DarrelHoffman it was at a dealership... why do you think the manager was not pleased???
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 19:38

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