Brake Locked Car Won’t Start (the Reason And the Fix)

Having a brake-locked car can be a very infuriating experience. You will be left with a dead car that won’t start at all.

Wondering why your brake locked car won’t start?

An overheated braking system can momentarily stiffen your brakes. Using wrong brake fluids, or damaged components can be blamed for this issue too. Look for damaged ignition and disrupted battery terminals. Replace them if necessary and try starting your car in neutral mode.

That’s not all. There are more reasons why your car will have its brakes locked and fail to start. Why not stay with us for a little bit and figure out the reason?

Let’s not waste any more precious seconds and jump right into it-

What Are the Reasons Behind a Brake Locked Car?

You won’t be able to start the car due to the brake getting stiff. The extremely stiff brake pedal won’t depress at all. Usually, there’s no physical object blocking the pedals.

Finding yourself stuck in the same situation?  Then it’s time to identify the problem through a thorough inspection. A good number of reasons can influence this issue to come up. Let’s discuss those-

Reason 1: Exhausted Brake Vacuum

Almost every car nowadays comes with power brakes. The power assist relies heavily upon engine vacuum.

A small amount of vacuum is cached in the system when the car is off. Pushing the brake pedals when the car is off will exhaust the reserved vacuum.

Doing so will make the brake pedal go stiff. It’s due to having no power assist being present. 

The brakes can be restored to their usual status once the engine starts running.

Reason 2: Damaged Ignition Switch

There is a high chance your ignition is going bad if your car is old. Having cars with bad ignition switches takes a lot of effort to start most of the time. In some cases, the car might die after a few seconds afterward.

The voltage required to create the zaps in the spark plug is generated by ignition switches This created spark ignites the air and fuel combination.

Common signs of a bad ignition switch include slow engine cranking and flickering dashboard lights.

Reason 3: Faulty Starter Motor And Battery Terminal

Your brake can get stiff if your starter cable somehow gets disconnected from the battery. A series of loud clicking noises when turning the key might indicate a dead starter motor.

Check if there is a significant drop voltage by holding the key in the start position. If that happens, then the electrical circuit supplying the starter motor is faulty.

Inspection of the circuit requires thorough checking of the battery, fuses, wiring, relay, and ignition switch.

Take a look at some of the starter motors that we hand-picked for you-

Corrosion in the battery terminals can also be the reason behind stiff brakes. The lurking connectors underneath the terminals can hinder the connection.

How to Fix the Brake Lock Issue?

Before going for an immediate fix, run a quick diagnosis first. Get the car engine running and check if the brake stays stiff or on. If the brake pedal is still stiff at that point, take a look at the brakes.

Start by checking the Ignition switch. Press the brake pedal and look for the brake lights. If the brake lights turn on, it means that the ignition switch is doing fine. But if it doesn’t turn on, you might need to take a look at that. 

Ignition switches are easily replaceable and cost next to nothing. It’s best to replace the ignition switch if your ignition switch goes bad. Try out these quality ignition switches that you can buy with very little cost-

If the ignition light isn’t the problem, carefully check for corrosion in the battery terminal. However, if your car is an automatic one, try switching to park mode.

In case of having a problem with vacuum leakage, replace the master cylinder line. Let the vacuum sit for 10-15 minutes after replacement.

Here are some of the top master cylinder brands in the market. We suggest you take a look. 

Make sure to inspect the battery carefully. If the battery wears down, you need to change it. 

Sometimes, the vacuum bleeds down overnight, resulting in stiff pedals. It doesn’t involve any internal damage to car components.

If that happens, hitting the pedal really hard will help the pedal hit the interlock switch. That’s all you need to do to start the car.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can brakes cause the car not to start?

Answer: Yes. Most modern cars require you to press the brake to start the car. So the brake does affect the starting of the car in a sense. A bad brake will prevent the car from starting. Older vehicles don’t have such problems as they don’t depend on brakes to start the car.

Question: Can ABS lock up your brakes?

Answer: Your brakes can lock up due to a bad, failed ABS module. The ABS system is designed to stop the wheels from locking up when braking heavily. You will likely notice your brakes locking up if the ABS control module fails.

Question: How much does it cost to fix the ABS system?

Answer: The cost for an ABS control module can range from anywhere between $300 to over $1000. Such cost is dependent on the cost of the control module and the difficulty of sourcing. The labor cost for such fixing is typically around $80 to $120. 

Parting Words

Hope that answered why your brake locked car won’t start. Still, having a hard time dealing with your breaks? We suggest you take professional help in that case.

With that said, we hope that you will be successful in fixing the issue by yourself. Best of luck and have a good day!

Rob Dahm

4 thoughts on “Brake Locked Car Won’t Start (the Reason And the Fix)”

  1. Pingback: My Car Won'T Start And My Brakes Are Locked? The 25 Correct Answer

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