What to do When Brakes Fail?


The number of road accidents has increased over the last few years, with about 6 million car accidents recorded in the U.S. every year. 

But do you know what’s worse? 

22% of car accidents are a result of brake failure! - Yup! ‘Breaking’ news right there...

You feel the most out-of-control in this situation. 

That said, did you know that you can do a lot to prevent your car from crashing in case of failed brakes? 

We’ve enlisted a few must-dos for times you happen to be prey to brake failure. 

Keeping these safety measures in mind might save you from potential damage, so read on...

Does your car need an Anti-lock Braking System? Find out here! 

8 Things To Do When Your Car Brakes Fail

1. Move to the Side

When you’re driving to work or out of town and you suddenly realize that you can’t lower your speed, it’s probably because your car is experiencing a brake failure. 

It’s easy to get worked up in such a situation. 

However, you need to be quick and wise at making a decision. 

The first thing to do here is to ensure that you get away from high traffic areas and pedestrians. 

In case you’re on the freeway, then you can move to the side of the road so as to prevent maximum damage.

Maneuver in such a way that you surpass any obstacles on the road. 

For this, you’ll have to ensure that you don’t take your eyes off the road.

2. Warn Other Drivers

When you are in trouble and can’t slow down, it’s always a good practice to warn others on the road of your predicament. 

It’s not that they could do much to help you out. 

However, they will be aware of whatever it is that your car is going through and make way for you.

In case of brake failure, turning on your hazard lights will warn other drivers. 

They might not fully understand that it is your brakes that have failed but might remain cautious on the road. 

Remember that, the hazard light button is on your dashboard and its symbolic representation is an orange triangle inside an orange triangle.

3. Turn Off Cruise Control 

When your brakes have given up on you, you know that stopping your car in smarter ways is the only way to get around the situation. 

Ensure you take your foot off the gas and turn off cruise control. 

Doing so will help slow down the speed of your car by friction, if not stop it completely. 

If you’re familiar with the dynamics of a car, you’ll know that your cruise control system turns off as soon as you touch the brake or clutch. 

You may not receive instant results by applying your brakes here for the obvious reason that it’s non-functional. 

However, you can certainly apply pressure on your clutch. 

Whether or not the cruise control is automatically off, ensure that you manually do so, just to be on the safe side. 

4. Downshift Your Car

You’re a driver, so you probably already know how gears work. 

When you start a car, you go from the first gear and transition to the second and exponentially shift your gears as you increase your speed. 

Thus, in case of lowering your speed, shifting into a lower gear is the smartest move you can make. 

When you make the transition, ensure it’s not sudden as that would only damage your car. 

Keep it gradual and smooth. 

For instance, if you’re driving an automatic car, you might have a second and first gear on the gear selector like most cars.

If you have tap-to-shift, shift into manual ‘M’, which you’ll find on the right or left of ‘Drive’ on console-shift vehicles or the bottom gear on column-shift vehicles.

Then press the minus button to shift down. Again, if you can’t go directly into the lowest range, try gradually shifting down.

You’ll notice the speed decreasing. However, if you’re panicking to make the shift, remember that you don’t need to do it all at once. 

Let your car slow down naturally if there are no dangers of damaging property or other vehicles.  

5. Pump the Brakes

Your car brakes have given up on you, but you don’t have to give up on it completely. 

Brake failure is partial failure most of the time. 

Thus, pumping your brakes to make your car stop can help. 

Sure, your car might not stop by pressing your brakes. 

However, the continuous action of pumping your brakes may be enough to slow you to a complete stop. 

The right way to make this technique work would expect of you to pump your brakes a few times and then pressing the brakes all the way to the floor to see if you have any pressure left.

Ensure that you pump quickly to build up friction within your brakes. 

This helps in most cases and it is a must try technique. 

6. Use the Emergency Brake 

The brake you use when you park your car, which is also known as an emergency brake will come handy in case your primary brakes fail. 

This is the large lever that you’ll find at the side of the driver’s seat. 

When we say you should use this emergency brake, we absolutely do not mean that you should do so when your car is speeding through the road. 

Get your car to a lower speed by downshifting gears till you finally reach a safe speed on the first gear to actually try using your emergency brake.

When you pull the lever of this brake, ensure that you do not tug on it too quickly. 

Slowly pulling it up is the ideal way of doing this. 

If you quickly pull up this lever, your wheels may lock and your car may skid on a high speed. 

If you feel or hear your tires lock while pulling on the lever slowly, do not panic. 

Simply release some pressure from the brake application and hold it there.

7. Open Your Windows 

Open your windows as this is the best way to create air resistance in your car.

This is because resistance is a great way of lowering your speed. 

Opening your windows won't stop your car on its own, however, it may slow it down to a safe speed that may help you stop it using other techniques. 

The plus side of having your windows open is that you can shout out to other drivers and pedestrians to alert them to make way as required.

8. Drag Your Car Against Something 

Say you’ve tried all other means possible for stopping your car and have still failed to do so, then, use this as the last resort.

We highly do not recommend you to do this as it may cause you more damage.

However, when you feel it’s the only way out, then go ahead with this. 

Drag your car against a divider or along the curb to induce some friction. 

This will definitely slow down your car drastically, despite causing much damage to your car’s exterior in the process. 

You may also like reading, how to remove abrasions and scratches from your car?

Afterall, it’s better to have your car damaged than to cause damage to others along the way. 

The other way to do this is by taking your car off road, or moving into mud or gravel, which also causes resistance. 

If you’re turning, esure you’ve managed to lower your speed before that as there might be a danger of your car flipping on high speeds. 

Call A&G Customs For Help

A&G Customs certainly wish the best for you and do not want you to be prey to brake failure. 

However, in case you do wind up in such a situation, they’re here for you. 

Keep your hands on your steering wheel and try lowering your speed by using this guide.

In case, you’re unable to manage, simply use the last resort and lock your wheels. 

If you’re looking for an auto repair shop in Doylestown that can help you before and after you stop your car, A&G Customs is what you need.

They will ensure your car is brought to perfect condition and your brakes are restored for safer drives. 

They’re just one call away at 215 669 307.