How Long Can I Leave My Parking Brake On?

How Long Can I Leave My Parking Brake On?

How Long Can I Leave My Parking Brake On?

When you can’t stop your car, slowly pull up on the emergency brake handle or press the pedal down. NOTE: You should only leave your parking brake on as long as overnight, at the very most.

Definition and Purpose of the Parking Brake

Parking brakes are a second brake system developed to hold a parked vehicle. In contrast to the primary brakes, which are mechanical or hydraulic mechanisms activated by pressing a brake pedal, the parking brake operates manually. It’s typically activated by pulling a lever or pressing the button within the vehicle’s cabin.

A parking brake’s primary function is to keep the vehicle from moving during parking. It is designed to ensure the safety of occupants, prevent accidents resulting from unintentional vehicle movements, and protect against theft. The parking brake is particularly beneficial when parking on slopes or uneven surfaces because it adds extra security.

Different Types of Parking Brakes and Their Mechanisms

Parking brakes vary in design and operation according to the type of vehicle. The most commonly used parking brakes are hydraulic, mechanical, and electrical.

  • Mechanical Parking Brake: This classic type of parking brake uses the linkage system or cable to mechanically join the shoes or pads of the brake against the drum or rotor. When the lever for the parking brake pulls, or the brake pedal gets squeezed, the cable’s tension is increased, which causes the shoes or brake pads to come into contact with the braking surface, thereby stabilizing the vehicle.
  • Hydraulic Parking Brake: Certain vehicles, especially larger ones, such as SUVs and trucks, might have a hydraulic parking brake. In this type of system, the pedal or lever for parking brakes triggers a hydraulic mechanism that puts pressure on the rear brake system, like how a foot brake functions. A hydraulic brake for parking is typically operated electronically with the use of a button or switch.
  • Electronic Parking Brake: Modern cars often include electronic parking brakes that are becoming more well-known. Instead of a mechanical linkage or a hydraulic mechanism, an electronic parking brake uses actuators or electric motors to activate the brake shoes or pads. The brake is usually controlled with buttons or switches in the dashboard or center console. Electronic parking brakes are convenient and precise control since they automatically engage and disengage once the vehicle is in gear.

Every type of parking brake comes with advantages and disadvantages. Mechanical parking brakes are durable and easy to use. However, they might require periodic adjustments. Hydraulic parking brakes offer greater stopping power and are less susceptible to cable damage, but they can be difficult to fix. Electronic parking brakes are convenient as well as integrated into other vehicle systems. However, they might require special tools and understanding to keep them in good condition.

The Consequences of Leaving the Parking Brake OnThe Consequences of Leaving the Parking Brake On

The parking brake is engaged in a non-intentional manner or for a prolonged time, which can result in various consequences. 

Potential Damage to the Braking System

Suppose you leave the parking brake in place while driving or even when your vehicle is stationary. In that case, it may negatively affect the braking system if the parking brake becomes activated and pressure is applied to the brake shoes or pads against the drum or rotor. When the brake remains running during driving, it causes excessive friction, creating heat, and causing parts of the brake to break quickly.

Over time, the high heat produced by the parking brake could damage the brake shoes or pads. Glazing happens when the friction material gets harder and is less effective at providing sufficient stopping power. In the end, the braking distance can be increased, compromising the vehicle’s overall safety.

Leaving the parking brake in place for a long time, like overnight or while in storage, may also cause the brake parts to rust or seize. The condensation and moisture may build up on the surfaces of the brakes, causing corrosion and hindering the efficiency of the brake mechanism. This could lead to a decrease in braking effectiveness and the possibility of harm to other brake components, including calipers, drums, or rotors.

Impact on Fuel Efficiency and Tire Wear

If you leave the parking brake in place, even for a brief time, it could negatively affect your fuel efficiency. If the brake for parking is engaged in some way, it causes additional resistance that causes the engine to exert more effort to overcome the resistance. The added load on the engine results in greater fuel consumption, which reduces the car’s overall performance. While the effect may be minor for short periods, extended parking brake activation can lead to a noticeable decrease in fuel efficiency.

Additionally, maintaining the parking brake on when driving can result in uneven wear on the tires. Continuous contact between brake shoes or pads and the surface of the brake creates excessive friction, which increases wear on the wheels. Uneven wear on tires can impact the tire’s stability, traction, and overall performance, which can impact the vehicle’s handling capabilities and safety.

It is crucial to remember that the consequences of keeping the parking brake in place will vary based on the particular vehicle and the engagement time. But, as a general rule, keeping the parking brake on when a vehicle is moving or parked for a long time is recommended. Inspecting and maintaining the parking brake system regularly will reduce the possibility of harm and ensure that it is operating properly.

Factors Affecting the Duration

The time you are allowed to keep the parking brake in place depends on many variables. 

Condition of the Parking Brake System

The state of the parking brake mechanism has a major impact on determining the length at which it can safely be engaged. If the brakes are well maintained, regularly inspected, and correctly adjusted, they can endure longer engagement periods without causing any harm. However, if it has been damaged, worn out, or not properly maintained, it could not sustain extended engagement and experience increased wear and possible malfunction.

Maintenance of your parking brakes regularly involves:

  • Monitoring the linkages or cables’ tension
  • Checking the brake shoes or pads for wear.
  • Lubricating moving components.

Ensuring that your parking brakes are in good shape will give you more confidence in their capacity to withstand long periods of use.

Temperature and Weather Conditions

Weather and temperature conditions may affect the time the parking brake is safely active. In cold weather, water and condensation can build up on the brake surfaces, which can cause them to freeze or turn icy. If the parking brake becomes activated in these conditions, it could get stuck or be difficult to release, resulting in eventual damage to the braking system. Be cautious and refrain from leaving the parking brake in cold temperatures or freezing conditions.

However, when it is hot, the heat generated by the engaged parking brake could cause the brake parts to expand. The expansion could result in an increase in friction, increased wear, and possibly damage to the brake system. If you plan to park your vehicle in a hot environment for a long time, it is advised not to leave the parking brake on to reduce the chance of heat-related issues.

Surface Conditions and Inclines

The surface on which a vehicle is parked and the presence of slopes can impact the time the parking brake will effectively be in operation. If parking on a flat and level surface, the parking brake can be activated for longer periods without a major issue. But if the car is parked on a slope, the parking brake is crucial to stop any unintentional movement or rolling.

If you park on steep slopes, it is recommended to use the parking brake so that the vehicle stays still. But it is important to remember that relying on only your parking brake for a long time on steep hills is not always enough. In such instances, it is advised to take additional precautions, including locking the wheels using blocks or wheel wedges to ensure additional security and to prevent any possible tension on the parking brake system.

The Parking Brake is an Anti-Theft Device

The primary function of the parking brake is to keep the vehicle parked in place, but it also acts as an additional security precaution to guard against theft. 

The Parking Brake Provides Additional Security

Involving the parking brake can add a layer of security to your vehicle by making it harder for thieves to get away. If you have the brake for parking activated, it locks the rear wheels and prevents the vehicle from moving freely. This makes it difficult for a person to tow or push the vehicle without first deactivating the parking brake, which will require access to its interior.

Apart from physically securing the vehicle and immobilizing it, the parking brake also acts as a visual restraining device. Potential thieves might be deterred from trying to steal when a vehicle is parked and the parking brake is engaged since it signifies additional safety measures are in place.

Effectiveness Compared to Other Anti-Theft Measures

While parking brakes can add a layer of security, it’s important to remember that they shouldn’t be regarded as the sole measure to prevent theft. Various other security tools and systems enhance the parking brake’s purpose in preventing theft. A few of them include:

  • The lock on the steering wheel These locks, also referred to as steering wheel clubs, are devices that can be attached to the steering wheel and prevent it from turning. They function as visual dissuaders, making it more difficult for thieves to steal the vehicle.
  • Alarm systems: Alarm systems for vehicles can stop theft by emitting a loud siren, flashing lights, or removing the ignition system in case an unauthorized entry or alteration is discovered. Alarm systems can be used with the parking brake by alerting other drivers to theft potential.
  • Immobilizers: Immobilizers are security devices made of electronics that stop the engine from starting until the right key or fob is in place. They prevent hot-wiring and unauthorized starting of the vehicle.
  • Systems for tracking vehicles: Tracking systems employ GPS technology to monitor the whereabouts of stolen vehicles. If an automobile is taken, the vehicle’s location is tracked and reported to authorities, increasing the likelihood of recovery.

Although these security measures can effectively prevent theft, combining them with the parking brake may offer a complete security solution. The parking brake is a physical barrier that makes it difficult for thieves to get around the vehicle, thereby increasing the likelihood of being caught and detained.

Long-Term Parking Brake Engagement

Engaging the parking brake for an extended period, like during storage or parking for a long time, is a special procedure to ensure security and efficiency for the car. 

Consequences of Extended Parking Brake Engagement

Leaving the parking brake on for an extended period can result in several problems. One of the main issues is the possibility for the brake shoes or pads to seize or bind to the surface of the brake. If you have the brake for parking activated, the brake parts always remain in direct contact with the drum or rotor, which can cause corrosion, rust, and adhesion as time passes. This makes it difficult, or even impossible, to remove the parking brake when you need to move your vehicle.

A prolonged engagement with the parking brake may also cause the brake pads and shoes to form flat spots because of long-term contact with the braking surface. This can cause uneven wear and affect braking performance even when parking brakes are not engaged.

Furthermore, keeping the parking brake in operation for a prolonged period could cause the cable for the parking brake or linkage to get stretched or weak. This could compromise the parking brake’s performance and require repairs or adjustments to ensure proper functioning.

Preventive Measures for Vehicles in Storage or Long-Term Parking

If you intend to store your car or park it for a prolonged period, the precautions listed below can help reduce the risk of the long-term engagement of your parking brake:

  • Prepare the vehicle properly: Ensure it is clean inside and outside before storage. Remove any dirt or other substances that could attract pests and cause harm. You should consider giving your vehicle a thorough clean, including the undercarriage, to eliminate any debris or corrosive substances that could cause the brake system deterioration.
  • Select the most suitable parking area. Choose a safe and dry place to park your car in storage for a long time. Choosing an area covered, like a garage, is recommended to shield the automobile from weather and other elements. If a covered space isn’t available, consider using a cover for your vehicle for additional security.
  • The parking brake should be released frequently: To keep your brake parts from binding or seizing, it’s recommended to let off the brake frequently when storing for a long time. This will help keep flat spots from occurring and ensure that the brake shoes or pads are not in continuous contact with the brake surface.
  • Stop the wheel: While activating your parking brake, think about using wheel chocks or blocks to stop unwanted movements. Placing these blocks in front and behind them will add an additional layer of security and ease tension on the parking brake system.
  • Think about the use of wheel dollies: If you plan on leaving your car in the exact location for a prolonged period of time using them, they can alleviate tension upon the parking brake mechanism. The dollies permit wheels to rotate freely, which reduces the possibility of binding on the brake and flat spots.

Parking Brake Maintenance and Repair

Timely and effective maintenance ensures the brake’s performance and dependability.  

Signs of a Malfunctioning Parking Brake

Recognizing the signs of a broken parking brake is vital to fixing issues quickly. Common indicators of problems with parking brakes include:

  • Resistance is not there: If the pedal or lever for parking brakes is sloppy, has excessive play, or is not able to resist when pressed, it could be a sign of a problem in the system for parking. This could be due to damaged or stretched cables and brake pads, worn or damaged shoes, or a malfunctioning linkage mechanism.
  • Warning light for brake: The brake light on your dashboard remains lit even after releasing the brake for parking; this could be a sign of a problem with the system for parking brakes. The light could be caused due to a malfunctioning sensor, the level of brake fluid being low, or any other issue.
  • Strange sounds: Unusual sounds like grinding, squealing, or dragging noises when you engage or deactivate the parking brake may signal worn-out brake components or an improper adjustment. If you ignore these noises, you could cause additional damage and impair your brake performance.
  • Movement of the vehicle even when the parking brake is in use: When a vehicle is moving or rolling even when the parking brake is activated, it could indicate an issue in the system for parking. A damaged cable, malfunctioning calipers, drum brakes, or mechanical problems could cause it.

Steps to Take for Troubleshooting and Repair

If you encounter issues with the parking brake, it’s essential to follow the correct steps to troubleshoot and fix the issue. Here are some suggested steps:

  • Inspection by visual: Begin by inspecting the brake parking system, including the linkages, cables, and brake components, visually. Examine for indications of corrosion, damage, or wear. If there are any issues, there may be a need to carry out further inspection and repairs.
  • Adjustment: In some instances, the parking brake could require a few adjustments to ensure proper function. This may involve adjusting the tension of cables, replacing shoes or brake pads that are worn out, or re-aligning the mechanism for linking. It is recommended that you refer to your vehicle’s manual or consult a professional to ensure that the correct adjustments are made.
  • Check the brake fluid level: Check the brake fluid level within the master reservoir of the cylinder. The lack of brake fluid may interfere with the operation of the parking brake and may indicate leaks or other issues with the brake system. If the fluid level is low, it’s recommended that you have your brake system examined to be repaired or replaced by a certified mechanic.
  • Assistance from a professional: If you’re unsure how to diagnose or fix parking brake problems, you should seek professional help. A qualified mechanic knowledgeable in brake systems can diagnose the issue accurately and make the required repairs with the right tools and methods.

Safety Standards and Legal Requirements

The use of parking brakes is not only crucial to ensuring the safety of your vehicle, but it is also subject to safety standards and legal regulations.  

Regulations Regarding Parking Brake Usage

Different jurisdictions have rules and safety standards for parking brakes and their use. These regulations are designed to ensure the safe operation of vehicles and avoid accidents resulting from unintentional car movements. Although the exact requirements vary depending on the location, typical regulations include the following:

  • Engagement in parking: Most states require drivers to use the parking brake whenever they park on any slope or slope. This is to prevent cars from taking off and improve safety overall. Certain areas might also require that the parking brake be activated when parking on a level surface.
  • Disengagement when driving: D disconnecting the parking brake before going out is generally required. The parking brake left engaged when driving can result in excessive wear to the brake mechanism, which can compromise brake performance and pose an injury risk.
  • The minimum capacity of holding: Different jurisdictions define the minimum capacity of holding that the parking brake needs to offer. This will ensure that the brake effectively stops a vehicle from moving or rolling when activated.
  • Essential requirements for the functionality: Security standards typically stipulate that the parking brake has to work properly and safely. This means there must be sufficient brake force, properly engaged and detachment mechanisms, and the absence of any movement or slack within the system.

Consequences of Violating Parking Brake Laws

Infractions of the laws and regulations regarding parking brakes can lead to sanctions and legal penalties. The penalties for violations can differ according to the offense’s state of origin and degree. The potential penalties for violating parking brake laws could be:

  • Fines: Drivers found to be violating the parking brake law can be subjected to fines or citations. The number of fines can differ depending on the location and could increase for repeat offenders.
  • Points on your driving report: In certain states, parking brake violations may cause points to be put on a driver’s record. Affecting too many points in certain time frames could cause a license suspension or other consequences.
  • Impoundment of vehicles: In certain circumstances, especially if the offense causes a dangerous circumstance or repeat infractions, authorities can confiscate the vehicle. The owner could be required to pay a fee and adhere to specific rules and regulations to be able to take control of their vehicle.
  • Higher insurance rates: Infractions involving parking brake use can cause an increase in insurance rates. Insurance companies consider these violations a sign of reckless driving and can lead to higher rates.

It is vital to know your region’s parking brake laws and regulations to ensure you are in compliance and avoid any potential fines. Knowing and adhering to these regulations will help create safer roads and avoid accidents caused by incorrect parking brake use.


How long could I at any point leave my stopping brake locked in?

Typically, you can engage your parking brake for as long as necessary. It is intended to hold the vehicle set up, in any event, for broadened periods, for example, short-term or during a day at work. However, the parking brake should be released before driving again.

Could leaving the stopping slow down on for a really long time cause harm?

Under normal circumstances, leaving the parking brake on for an extended period of time should not result in significant damage. However, excessive tension in the brake cable or worn-out brake components may result in premature wear or eventual damage over time.

Might the stopping at any point slow down stall out on the off chance that left connected with for quite a while?

At times, the stopping brake can become stuck assuming left drawn in for a lengthy period, particularly in districts with high dampness or destructive circumstances. The brake components may seize as a result, making brake release challenging. Normal use and support assist with forestalling this.

When parking on a surface that is flat, should I release the parking brake?

Even when parking on a flat surface, it is generally a good idea to use the parking brake. This provides an additional layer of safety and prevents the vehicle from rolling unintentionally as a result of external factors like accidental bumps or gusts of wind.

Is it possible for the parking brake to overheat if left on?

The majority of the time, leaving the parking brake engaged does not result in excessive brake heat. In most cases, the parking brake is not engaged while driving because it is based on a separate mechanism from the primary braking system. However, in order to avoid any problems, it is essential to fully release the parking brake before driving.

Would it be advisable for me to deliver the stopping brake prior to driving?

Yes, before driving, you must release the parking brake. Endeavoring to drive with the stopping brake drew in can prompt extreme wear on the brake parts, diminished eco-friendliness, and expected harm to the drivetrain.