When the Brakes Fail

Brake failure is quite possibly one of the most terrifying incidents that can occur when you are driving. Most people, myself included – until now – may not know what to do in case their brakes fail. After doing a little research, I wanted to share some interesting tips and “know-how’s” if you ever find yourself in a situation where your brakes fail.

  1. First thing is first – try to remain calm. Though this seems like almost impossible, the way that you react can have an impact on whatever happens next.
  2. If you can, try to find a safe place as soon as possible and make sure your hazard lights are on.
  3. Take your foot off the gas and if you have cruise control, go ahead and turn it off at this time.
  4. Pay attention to how the break pedal feels
    • If the break pedal goes to the floor, that means that you are low on break fluid.
    • If your brake pedal is hard and does not move, something in your brake system may have broken or you may have an obstruction under the pedal. Try to feel with your foot if at all possible.
  5. Pump the brakes!
    • Pumping your brakes several times may help to rebuild enough pressure in the braking system of your vehicle and may help you get your car to a complete stop. Please note : this may take a while, so keep trying!
  6. Shift into neutral or any other low gear
    • shifting to another low gear (including neutral), will help your engine to slow the car down.
    • If you have an automatic transmission, downshift one gear at a time
    • If you have a manual transmission, it is possible to downshift two gears at a time
    • Either way, you will feel the car slow and as it continues to slow down, repeat to downshift until the car comes to a complete stop.
  7. Pull the emergency brake
    • The emergency brake or the parking brake can usually help get the car to come to a complete stop, although, it will take a little bit longer because it only stops the rear wheels.
    • Pull the brake slowly and steadily – remember, to stay calm and not move to fast, because if the emergency brake is applied too hard or too fast,  your back tires can lock, especially if you are traveling at an accelerated speed
    • If you hear or feel your tires lock, release some pressure from the brake and hold it there.
  8. If you were not able to pull over to the side, keep your eyes on the road and continue to steer.
    • Continuing to steer sharply from time to time as turning creates the friction you need in order to slow the car down naturally. **DO NOT due this at high speeds – if you try to turn the wheel too sharply at a high speed, you may end up flipping your car or spinning your car**
  9. Once you have successfully gotten your car to a complete stop, do not attempt to drive it! Have the car towed to a nearby mechanic
  10. One last thing – do not turn your car off until you haves come to a complete stop. Turning the engine off will disable the power steering and will make it nearly impossible to maneuver the vehicle.

We hope these tips are helpful if you or someone you know ever find yourselves in a situation where your brakes fail or go out. Of course we hope that you will never need to use these tips, but it is always best to know what to do – just in case.

If you or anyone you know has been in an accident due to failed brakes, please contact us to discuss your case. Consultations are free!

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