Brake Locked Car Won’t Start (Troubleshooting Guide)

If you are a car owner, you understand the value of a functioning vehicle. But it’s frustrating when your car gets brake-locked. It’s like having to deal with a dead car that refused to start, let alone work.

So, why your brake locked car won’t start?

If the braking system of your car overheats, it locks your brakes by getting stiff. It can be induced by the use of the wrong braking fluid and damaged components as well. You need to check if the ignition and the battery are working or not. If not, replace the faulty part and try to start your car.

It’s just an overview of what could possibly induce a brake-locked situation. But there’s more to this. To know more about why your car may have been brake-locked and how to fix that, stay along with us.

Why Your Brake Locked Car Won’t Start – The Reasons

Brake Locked Car Won’t Start

When the brakes of your car get stiff, it gets locked and won’t let you start the vehicle. The braking pedal gets stuck and doesn’t depress in such situations. This leads you to have a car that refuses to work. 

If you are stuck in a situation like this and there’s no servicing center around, you may feel doomed. But if you know where to look and what to look for, you may be able to identify the issue by yourself. So, let’s discuss the reasons –

1. Exhausted Vacuum

Most cars now have power brakes that require an engine vacuum to provide power assistance. It helps you to control the braking pedals of your car.

If the engine vacuum is exhausted, your brakes will get locked and won’t let you start the engine.

While turning off the engine of your car, some vacuum gets stored to assist the brakes. Whenever this vacuum runs out, it locks the pedals and the engine doesn’t turn on.

But once you manage to turn on the car, your brakes will start working fine again.

2. Faulty Ignition Switch

As your car ages, issues like ignition switch failure start becoming a thing. If your car has problems with the ignition switch, it will take longer than usual to start or die after staying on for a few good seconds. 

The ignition plugs are the components that create a spark in the spark plug of your car to start it. If they fail to create a spark, the fuel doesn’t get ignited. Thus, the car doesn’t start.

If there’s an issue with the ignition switch, you would see the engine light flickering on the dashboard. Also, a slow clunking noise will be coming from the engine of your car.

3. Issues With Motor and Battery Terminal

You may blame your starter motor if you hear clicking noises while turning the car on. If there are no such noises, you may inspect the starter cable of your car.

The starter cable disconnecting from the battery can induce stiffness in the brakes.

The electric circuit that provides power to the starter motor can have problems as well. Due to a faulty starter motor, there will be a significant drop in voltage while you turn the key to start. And that can cause your brake to lock.

Another reason can be having problems with the battery terminal. If there’s a disruption in the battery terminal, that can cause a brake lock.

Usually, if the starter cable gets disconnected from the battery, this situation arises. Corrosion in your car’s battery terminal can induce it as well.

4. Dead Battery and Fuel Delivery Problems

If your car doesn’t respond at all while trying to turn it on, it’s probably because of the battery having issues with it. In that case, you either need to jump-start or worse, replace the battery.

If your battery is dead and you want to replace that, here are some of our recommended batteries for you to choose from –

Apart from a dead battery, fuel delivery issues can also be a reason for your car not starting. When the combustion chamber doesn’t get enough fuel supply, the car can’t generate the required power to start the engine.

In such a case, check the fuel pump and the injectors. You need to ensure too that there’s enough fuel on your car and it doesn’t surpass the 0 oil life.

If that is the case, you must refill fuel as soon as possible to avoid engine shutdown.

5. Brake Drag and Lockup

If there’s residual hydraulic pressure, the brake calipers of your car may activate by themselves. It’s called brake drag. It can lock your brakes and not let you start the car. 

If the brake calipers of your car aren’t perfectly aligned with the rotor, it may also cause brake drag. It is a serious problem and should be taken care of immediately.

Brake drag issues can cause the failure of mechanical components of the braking system. That will exponentially increase the chances of a crash.

Solution to the Brake Lock Problem

First, you need to diagnose the car for issues. It will expose the actual reason why your car has been brake-locked. It can be one of the mentioned above or a completely new issue. So, a diagnostic test is a must.

To diagnose the issue, the blue link can assist you. If the blue link isn’t working, then you are on your own. So, you need to get the engine of your car running first. That may resolve the issue if the brake vacuum of your car has been exhausted. 

If the brake vacuum is exhausted, you may try hitting the pedal very hard and activating the interlock switch. But remember to check the brakes afterward as pushing down on the pedal really hard can cause braking issues.

You need to check the ignition switch as well. Your ignition switch should be fine if you can get the brake lights turned on.

To check that, press the pedal and notice if the brake lights turn on or not. If there’s no light, possibly the ignition switch is the issue here.

You shouldn’t repair a faulty ignition switch. It is best to replace the switch once it has gone bad. The ignition switch comes very cheaply. So, it won’t be a problem at all. Here are some of the good ignition switches that we highly recommend –

If the ignition switch is all right, you should proceed to check the battery terminal. Look for any corrosion in the terminal. You must check the battery as well. If the battery is dead, changing it will resolve the issue.


Can brakes make my car fail to start?

Yes. As modern cars require you to press the brake while starting, bad brakes can cause your car to fail to start.

Can cold weather cause brake lock?

Yes, it can. If you leave your car to rest for a long time in extremely cold weather, it can make your brakes stiff and your car won’t start.

Can a bad ABS module lock my car’s brake?

Yes. A failure in the ABS control module of your car may induce a brake lock. ABS is intended to prevent your car’s wheels from locking up while braking hard.

Wrap Up!

With that, we’ve reached the end. We hope you now know why your brake-locked car won’t start and have some basic knowledge on how to fix it.

But in such cases, it is always recommended that you visit or call a professional mechanic who knows how to take care of it.

If you have any opinions regarding the write-up, do let us know. Best of luck in your future endeavors!

Jerry Ellis

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