What do I do if my car won’t start and my brake is hard?

I went to start my car this morning and I couldn’t press the brake to start it. I think the brakes are locked or something and I don’t know why. What do I do if my brakes are locked and my car won’t start?

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Answer provided by
Bianca (Bee) Davis
Answered on May 02, 2022
Sorry about your brakes! There are a few things that could be causing your brakes to lock up. Let’s look at some of them here:
  • Exhausted brake vacuum: Most modern cars have power assist, which relies on a brake vacuum to operate. If you’ve been pushing on the brake pedals without the engine running, it could be exhausting the reserve vacuum present in the car when it’s off. This will cause your brake pedal to go stiff.
To fix: Leave the brakes alone for a few minutes and then start your car. If the brake vacuum was the issue, your brakes should go back to normal once they have power assist.
  • Damaged ignition switch: If you have an older car, it could be that your ignition switch is going bad. Signs of a bad ignition switch include slow cranking in the engine and flickering dashboard lights. To test your ignition switch, press on your brakes and look for brake lights. If you don’t see any brake lights, your ignition switch is probably the issue.
To fix: Ignition switches are a very easy fix and pretty cheap, too. You can replace it yourself or hire a mechanic.
  • Faulty starter cable: Sometimes, your brakes can get stiff if your starter cable somehow gets disconnected from the battery terminal. If you’re hearing loud clicking sounds when you turn the key, this could be because your starter motor is dead or faulty.
To fix: If you’re comfortable working on your car’s battery, you can fix it yourself. Otherwise, hire a mechanic.
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