Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Emergency Brake Control

As a safety feature, all road going cars and trucks are equipped with some sort of emergency / parking brake system for parking and manual braking in emergency situations. The emergency brake is meant to only be used as a means to stop the car if the vehicle’s primary braking system fails. In the event of some sort of hydraulic or electronic brake failure that disables the main brakes, the vehicle can still be stopped using the emergency brakes. Emergency brakes also double as an additional safety method to secure the vehicle when parked.

Most emergency brakes are controlled by a simple handle or lever mechanism that engages the emergency brakes when set. The handle or pedal is connected to switches that will detect if it is set or not. It is also connected to a steel braided cable that will set the emergency brakes when it is pulled. As the emergency brake control mechanism is the direct means for activating the emergency brake, when it has any issues, it can cause problems with the functionality of the emergency and parking brake. Usually a problematic emergency brake control mechanism will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver of a potential issue that should be serviced.

1. Emergency / Parking brake does not properly engage

One of the first symptoms of a problem with the emergency brake control mechanism is a parking brake that does not properly engage. If there is any problem with the parking brake handle or lever, it may cause the emergency brake to not function correctly. This may cause difficulty when parking on inclines, and will leave the vehicle without a suitable brake in emergency situations.

2. Emergency / Parking brake does not disengage

Another symptom of a bad or failing emergency brake mechanism is a parking brake that does not disengage, or one that does not disengage properly. If the parking brake pedal or lever jams, or has any issue, it can cause problems disengaging the parking brake. This is a problem, as driving with a parking brake engaged can cause the brakes to overheat and sustain damage.

3. No resistance at parking brake pedal or lever

Another symptom of a problem with the emergency brake control mechanism is no resistance at the pedal or lever. If the lever or pedal breaks, this may cause zero resistance at the pedal. This can also be caused by a defective parking brake cable, so having the pedal checked is highly recommended.

Emergency brakes are an important feature that is mandatory on all vehicles, and any problem with the control mechanism can leave the vehicle without this emergency feature. If you suspect that your emergency brake control mechanism may be having an issue, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic. They will be able to look at the system and replace your emergency brake control if necessary.


Next Step

Schedule Brake System Inspection

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Brake System Inspection. Once the problem has been diagnosed, you will be provided with an upfront quote for the recommended fix and receive $20.00 off as a credit towards the repair. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Brake System Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating

(261)

Rating Summary
245
8
2
1
5
245
8
2
1
5

JOHNNY

33 years of experience
102 reviews
JOHNNY
33 years of experience
Ford Escape - Brake System Inspection - Sacramento, California
The convenience is worth the cost. I was also tired of the dealership not really caring about my old car. Last couple of times I had to wait well over an hour to get my car after the dealership said "It's ready!". They also wouldn't fix the things I asked saying they didn't have time and I need to come back.
Toyota Camry - Brake System Inspection - Carmichael, California
Johnny was early, friendly, and thorough! He explained things to me about my car that I had no idea about before! I booked him for a diagnostic appointment and I’m definitely requesting him for a follow-up!

Jay

37 years of experience
850 reviews
Jay
37 years of experience
Chevrolet C10 Pickup - Brake System Inspection - Moreno Valley, California
Knowledgeable, Professional, Friendly, and PATIENT! Sickeningly HONEST, as I tried to ply him with cash, alcohol, outside work, and wild dancing girls - although I wouldn't have "ratted him out" if he HAD accepted. A guy like this needs a "bigger cut" than what you are paying him ... because loyalty like his is hard to find these days! THANKS!
Volkswagen Jetta - Brake System Inspection - Moreno Valley, California
As usual, Mr. Jay provides efficient and professional quality of work. I would highly recommend him to any customer searching for a good mechanic.

Benji

22 years of experience
201 reviews
Benji
22 years of experience
Land Rover Range Rover Sport - Brake System Inspection - Phoenix, Arizona
Benji performed a detailed inspection on my 2007 Range Rover and completed the work very quickly. Highly recommend!!
Lincoln MKX - Brake System Inspection - Gilbert, Arizona
Very professional and knowledgeable. Very good business sense and cordial. Thank you for taking care of my car today! ☺

Robert

22 years of experience
185 reviews
Robert
22 years of experience
Toyota Prius - Brake System Inspection - Grapevine, Texas
Very pleasant, helpful demeanor. Answered questions willingly and helpfully. Today was just a diagnosis; he'll do the repair in a couple of days - very quick response.

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

Tips on Braking for New Drivers
New New drivers have to spend some serious time behind the wheel before they are ready to go out on their own and drive on busy roads. Situational awareness is tricky to maintain with so much happening around the vehicle,...
How to Break in Brake Pads
Having new brake pads and rotors installed happens on a regular basis. Once those brake pads and rotors are mounted, it is...
How Long Do Brake Rotors Last?
Brake rotors, sometimes called discs, are an important component of the braking system on any vehicle. The brake rotors are the part of...

Related questions

Why do my brakes wear out so fast?

Braking issues with any vehicle can most certainly cause some frustration, especially when you are having to replace parts more often than you thought you would! The need to replace your brakes every 20,000 miles does seem a bit excessive....

All brake on my vehicle are locking up while driving

Hi there. There are a few things that will cause this. Most of the time when this occurs it is due to petroleum contamination in the brake system. If something other than brake fluid was put into the master cylinder...

Brake master cylinder - 2010 Honda Element

Hi and thank you for contacting YourMechanic. Most likely what has happened is that when you were compressing the caliper to install the new brake pads, you compressed the caliper too fast and blew out the inner seal(s) in your...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com