I left my handbrake on for about 1000 meter when driving this winter. I smelled something burning when I opened the front door.

Since then there is often a burning smell back right wheel after driving.

Does the burning smell come from the mishandling of the handbrake?

How can I fix it?


1 Answer 1


Yes, driving with the handbrake on will cause brake overheating and a burning smell. If done for a long enough period of time it can cause damage to the seals in the caliper, which may require a caliper overhaul or replacement. In most cases though, simply letting it cool off will restore it to normal operation. You'll want to check it for over heating on your next trips in case it's been damaged and starts sticking on its own. You'll also want to keep a close eye for any brake fluid leaks from the overheated area. Also, note that if the brake pedal feels soft or spongy that you at a minimum need to bleed the brakes and may also be a symptom of a leak that needs to be repaired.

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    Accidently with handbrake on driving has passed for 3 weeks, but after driving for 5000 meter, I can smell something burning again from the same place: right back wheel. Does that mean they start sticking on its own, or brake fluid leaks from the overheated area?
    – Jenny
    Mar 5, 2014 at 13:43
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    Best guess without seeing it in person is that the brake caliper was damaged from the prior overheating event. If you're in a cold climate, it is also possible that the brake is just freezing up and this is a coincidence. Sounds like it's time to go to a repair shop and get it checked out. If it's damaged, they'll probably swap it with a remanufactured one. If it's freezing, they might thaw it out and try to repair the (possibly) leaking boot that water is getting in through. Mar 5, 2014 at 15:42
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    Seen a car dragging the rear end down the road in the winter when it had the parking break engaged - the rear wheels were not moving at all. Doing that for some distance would cause some extra wear to the area of the tire touching the road along with some burned rubber smell if done for very far.
    – Brian
    May 1, 2019 at 20:03
  • Probably also need to see if the brake rotors are warped from the heat. Oct 21, 2023 at 12:44

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