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How to safely stop your car when brakes fail!

Last updated on: October 31, 2013 17:03 IST

How to safely stop your car when brakes FAIL!

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Brakes are one of the most crucial parts of your vehicle; they require regular maintenance and vigilance.

If you find any niggling in the braking system, you should immediately contact your service station and sort it out as soon as possible.

Else, it could lead you into big trouble. The first thing you should know in this situation is - don’t panic!

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How to safely stop your car when brakes FAIL!

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Following are the few things you might encounter when your braking system isn't working well.

  • The brake pedal feels gooey and mushy.
  • The brake pedal becomes hard and loses vacuum boost.
  • Watch out for brakes screeching, creaking, and whining noise coming from the disc.
  • Watch out for burning smell and fumes coming out from the disc, brakes generate lot of heat.

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How to safely stop your car when brakes FAIL!

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Following are the preventive steps you should keep in mind.

  • You should check the brake fluid level weekly, in a vessel with lid, marked with brake fluid under the bonnet; it should always be between maximum and minimum as prescribed by the manufacturer.
  • Check your braking system at every service intervals.
  • Do not avoid changing your braking pads, brake fluids, disc and drums at regular service intervals as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

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How to safely stop your car when brakes FAIL!

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Following are the preventive steps you should keep in mind.

  • Do not engage brakes for longer period and avoid sudden braking as it deteriorates brake pads rapidly.
  • Do not use brakes for prolonged periods while driving downhill; it will generate excessive heat and can damage your system. Rather use engine braking with brakes while downhill.
  • After riding through flooded roads during monsoon, just gently press the brakes to dry the pads; water in the system lead to adversities.

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How to safely stop your car when brakes FAIL!

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Well, in case you do encounter braking system failure, here are some exigency steps you should follow.

We have divided steps to perform while braking system failure into two categories at high speed and at slow speed.

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How to safely stop your car when brakes FAIL!

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Braking system failure during slow speed

In a draggy bumper-to-bumper traffic or at very nominal speeds you can experience sudden braking system failure; it can be caused due to insufficient vacuum in the brake boosters, leaking brake fluid, perished lines, and leaky master cylinder.

In these situations, you will feel very soft mushy brake pedal and it will touch the metal without any resistance. Don’t panic and adopt the following steps:

  • Quickly press and release the pedal; it might help to generate some stopping action with whatever pressure is left. This could help you lose some momentum and stop your car.

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How to safely stop your car when brakes FAIL!

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Braking system failure during slow speed

  • Downshift the gear as early as possible, as engine braking is the best alternative in these situation; for example, if you are in third gear, downshift it to second, release the clutch and then into first, release the clutch, keep your foot off the accelerator.
  • Engine braking is useful because every particular gear is meant to run to a particular speed and specified rpm.
  • Use handbrake, which is a simple mechanical brake; it will help in halting the car, eventually. The modern high-end car comes with electronic handbrake system; this won’t work until the car is standing still. So this system won’t help you in this situation.
  • Shut the engine off when you downshift into first gear and let the engine decelerate itself to a complete halt due to friction.
  • You should switch on the emergency hazard lights and honk your horn to get the attention of the other drivers around.

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How to safely stop your car when brakes FAIL!

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Braking system failure during high speed

Braking system failure at high speed can be very dangerous; at low speeds you can easily manoeuvre the vehicle to halt. Things happen very quickly and you have to interpret the situation extremely fast.

At high speed, this thing will only come to your notice whenever you want to slow down or you need to come to a complete halt.

The first thing you should do is just be clam; don’t panic, as it will only worsen the situation for you. Follow these steps:

  • Quickly downshift to third gear, then second and finally first gear. These downshifts will surely help to reduce the speed and momentum to considerable levels and reduce the force of impact in the worst situation.

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How to safely stop your car when brakes FAIL!

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Braking system failure during high speed

  • Do not stop pumping your pedal as the system might work with whatever pressure is left and can help the car in decelerating.
  • Shut the engine off only when your car decelerates to very low speed as shutting the engine off will take the life out of your steering.
  • Put the car on sand and gravel along the roadside as they generate more friction.

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