How to Survive If Your Brakes Stop Working

By: Kris LeSueur   |   13 May 2020

Imagine that you are driving down a street and see a curve ahead. You press your brakes to slow your vehicle down, but nothing happens. Your brakes have stopped working!  Here at LeSueur Car Company, we hope you never have to experience this situation, but we all know that life can throw us some curveballs and it’s better to be prepared than to not be. Read the following tips so you'll know what to do if this ever happens to you: 

Stay Calm 

We know that sounds kind of obvious, but the truth is freaking out with only make the situation more dangerous. Stay focused, it could make the difference between life and death! 

Release Your Foot Off The Gas Pedal And Take Off Cruise Control 

The crucial thing to do in this situation is to de-accelerate, so take your foot off the gas pedal! Cruise control should go off as soon as you touch the break but just to be sure, turn it off.

Notice How Your Brake Pad Feels 

If it’s soft and goes to the floor, you may have low fluid, a faulty master cylinder or problems with your drums or calipers. You may be able to rebuild some braking pressure by pumping the brakes

If your brake pedal is hard and does not move, something in your brake system may have seized or you may have an obstruction under the pedal. Try to feel with your foot or look to see if you have something under the brake pedal.

Pump Your Brakes 

Pumping your brakes several times may rebuild enough pressure in the braking system for you to stop. This may take a while, so keep trying.

Shift Into a Lower Gear 

Shifting into a lower gears helps slow you down by using your engine to slow the car. If you have an automatic transmission, downshift a gear at a time into low range. If you have a manual transmission, downshift a gear or two at a time.

Pull the Emergency Brake 

Using the emergency brake can usually bring your car to a stop but it will take longer than usual to come to a stop because it only stops the rear wheels.

Stay Alert and Continue to Steer 

Pay attention to what’s in front of you, and maneuver to avoid heavy traffic, pedestrians, and dangerous obstacles

Warn Other Drivers

Turn your hazard lights on, and honk your horn to make others aware that there is a problem.

Steer Sharply From Side-To-Side

Turning creates friction, which slows your car naturally. If you do not have brakes, try turning sharply from left to right over and over to slow your car down

Use Your Surroundings to Slow the Vehicle

Do whatever you can to get under control. Use terrain to your advantage, use guardrails to slow your vehicle, use road friction to slow your vehicle. Small trees and shrubbery will also slow your vehicle when all else fails.

Pull Over When You Can 

The safest method is to look for bushy protrusions or shrubs and run it through the friction will significantly reduce car speed to a halt. 

We hope you never have to experience this situation, but if you do, we're glad you'll be prepared! Want to get your breaks checked? Schedule an appointment with our service team! 

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