Is there anything more terrifying than having your brakes fail entirely in the middle of the road? Most of us haven’t experienced this, thanks to technological fail-safes that keep us safe.
While you hope it never occurs to you, you should be ready for it by learning how to stop as safely as possible in case it does fail. If your brakes fail, you must know what to do. A split-second choice can be the difference between life and death.
Should I use the handbrake? Or maybe I will turn the engine completely OFF! But what if I was driving downhill?! For all these questions, we have put together this guide that includes information on what to do and what not to do if your brakes fail while you’re driving.
What NOT to do when brake fails?
Stopping a car without brake pedals could be a difficult task that needs high concentration and being cool. These are the mistakes that you need to avoid if you are in this situation:
- Do Not freak out: Take a deep breath and try to remain calm because the following few seconds are critical to your own safety as well as the protection of others around you.
- Do Not make aggressive downshifts: While it’s a good idea to downshift, don’t go from 4th to 1st gear all at once. You may lose control of your vehicle as a result of this.
- Do Not switch off your car: This might seem a good idea, but it will actually result in skidding. It also reduces your control over the car by disabling power steering or locking the steering wheel.
- Do Not use the handbrake too soon: Before using the emergency brake, be sure you’ve downshifted and pumped the brake pedal. Pulling the emergency brake too hard might cause your car to slide and get out of control.
What to DO when brake fails?
Now that you have a clear vision of things that you should avoid in this situation, you should start taking the right steps for better controlling your car and stopping it safely.
1. Take your foot off the gas pedal: It might seem obvious, but in such panicking situation, people usually do things that seems obvious they shouldn’t. This is the first step you should take to decrease the car speed.
2. Turn ON the emergency flashers: Turn on your warning lights and blast your horn to alert drivers around you if the road is clear and you’re still in charge of the car. While they may not grasp your situation completely, they will know to avoid you.
3. Check your brakes one more time: Unless you drive a vintage automobile, your car probably features a dual braking system that regulates the front and rear brakes separately. For your car to lose complete braking power, both parts of the system must fail. Even if your car’s braking power is halved, you may still be able to stop the car if you need to. See if you can get the car to slow down by pressing the brake pedal firmly and consistently.
4. SLOWLY lower the gears on the transmission: Downshift carefully and turn off cruise control if necessary to decrease the car’s speed.
5. Apply the handbrake with caution: The hand braking system won’t stop you, but it will greatly slow you down. It’s important to engage it slowly and gently to avoid losing control.
6. Put yourself in a safe position: Slow down and pull over to the side of the road as soon as possible. Even while coming to a complete stop would feel good, doing so in the middle of the highway puts you and others at risk.
7. Show that you need help: Once your car has been securely removed from the road, you may want help. Raise your hood and keep your hazard lights on to signal that you need assistance. As an added safety measure, you can place reflective triangles or road flares behind your vehicle. It is critical that you do not stand directly in front of (or behind) your car. Roadside help may be requested by calling with your cell phone.
8. Get your brakes checked by a professional: Even if the brakes appear to be working properly again, you should get them examined by a professional mechanic before you attempt to drive that car again. Remember that frequent brake inspections might help you avoid issues before they ever arise.