My Handbrake is Stuck: What to Do Now

If your handbrake’s stuck, you’re not going anywhere. This is one problem that you simply cannot ignore! You’ll have to act immediately.

The good news is that, the majority of the time, handbrakes get stuck in the ON position. It’s rare for handbrakes to get stuck in the OFF position. When this happens, it usually means that there’s a serious problem with your car. You need to come to a slow and safe stop on a level surface and call a mechanic immediately.

Yet if your handbrake’s stuck in the ON position, it might not be as dangerous, but it’s certainly frustrating.

Before we explore how to fix a stuck handbrake, let’s explain just why handbrakes can get stuck.

Why Do Handbrakes Get Stuck?

A few things can cause a handbrake to get stuck:

  • Cold Weather – Low temperatures can cause handbrake mechanisms to freeze in place.
  • Old Cars – In time, rust or corrosion can interfere with your handbrake. This is why regular servicing is a must for all drivers.
  • Long Periods Without Use – If you go for a while without driving your car, your handbrake can get stuck in place.
  • Brute Force – If you’re too forceful in engaging your handbrake, you might accidentally jam it.

How to Fix a Stuck Handbrake

Let’s take a look at each of the above situations, in turn.

How to Fix a Handbreak Frozen in Cold Weather

First, let your engine run for a bit. As your engine gets warmer, it should cause any ice to melt, which will allow you to disengage your handbrake. You can speed the process a little by gently revving your engine, while attempting to disengage your handbrake several times could break up any remaining ice.

If it’s cold enough to freeze your handbrake in place, then you’ll have to beware of ice and other hazards when driving. Head here to read our essential guide to safe winter driving.

How to Fix a Rusted or Corroded Handbrake

You shouldn’t allow your car or van to get into a state where rust or corrosion can interfere with your handbrake. If this happens to you, then it’s definitely time for a servicing, some replacement parts, or even a completely new car.

But before all this, you can try manually dislodging some of the rust through applying and releasing your brakes a number of times. The best call of action, though, is to call a mechanic.

How to Fix a Handbrake Left on For Too Long

The process for fixing this issue is much the same as fixing a handbrake that’s frozen in place by low temperatures. Just turn your engine on, let your car warm, and gently rev your engine to speed things up.

How to Fix a Handbrake Engaged Too Hard

Engaging your handbrake too hard can cause a number of mechanical issues. You might have damaged your wheel pads, or even strained the brake cable.  If you’ve tried everything and your handbrake’s still stuck, then there’s nothing else for it. You’ll have to call a mechanic.

How to Stop Your Handbrake from Getting Stuck

  • Commit to regular servicing, so that rust or corrosion never has a chance to build up.
  • Always engage your handbrake gently, to avoid causing any mechanical damage.
  • If possible, park in a temperature controlled environment, to stop your handbrake from freezing in place.
  • Never go too long without driving your car or van. Driving at least once a week should be enough to ensure that everything keeps working like it should.

And to avoid really getting stuck, get breakdown cover added to your vehicle insurance policy with Insure 2 Drive. That way, if you do need professional help to get your vehicle started again, help will soon arri


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