What to Do If Your Brakes Fail While You’re Driving
Having your brakes fail on you when out on the road is a rare, but possible risk. Sudden brake failure can occur even if your car is regularly maintained, and can just be a freak event caused by a design defect or wear and tear. It’s worth, then, being aware of what emergency actions you can take to make sure that your brakes failing doesn’t lead to a more serious accident.
Moreover, it’s important to consider some of the ways in which you can reduce the likelihood of suffering brake failure to your car. Depending on where you’re driving, your first response to brake failure should be to drop down through your car’s gears, and to slowly lower your handbrake. Pumping your brake pedal can also sometimes create enough pressure to slow down your engine. When dropping gears, you need to do so as gradually as possible to prevent skidding and losing control of the wheel, as this can cause problems if your power steering fails.
Another way to try to deal with brake failure is to switch down to a lower gear and then turn off your engine to slide to a stop; this will only work if you’re on a flat road with no obstacles, meaning that switching off your engine should be a last resort. Some cars will have dual circuit brakes, so that even when you shut down your engine, two wheels will still be able to provide some traction. Finally, you may have to perform a controlled crash, which should be into a soft area, preferably bushes that’ll cushion your impact.
When you realize that your brakes have gone, you should alert other drivers and pedestrians to the problem as soon as possible. Flash your hazard lights and hit your horn to get their attention, and open your windows to shout if you’re in busy traffic. If you can, try to pull off the road into a lay-by or graveled area, where you can try to increase friction between the ground and your car wheels without flipping your car.
Although it may be very difficult, try to stay as calm as you can, as panicking will only make brake failure worse. Serious incidents can be avoided by assessing what the safest option is for slowing down and performing a controlled stop or crash without causing injury to yourself or others. Once you have stopped, call breakdown services to have your car towed.
It’s possible to reduce the likelihood of your car’s brakes failing by undertaking regular static and rolling brake tests, and by being aware of when your brake pedals seem to be moving too freely without producing resistance.
Many cars, which includes the MINI Cooper, now have brake pad warning lights that will come on when a problem may be occurring with your brake pads, and will alert you to get them replaced or inspected. Author Bolivia Kane mostly writes on car safety and the best technology for use on the road. She currently works as a freelance writer, working in conjunction with Cooper MINI to promote the wide range of new