It’s a nightmare scenario that happens all too often. You’re driving along in traffic or on the highway and as you attempt to apply the brakes, nothing happens. The car continues moving at its present speed and no matter how hard you stamp down on the brake pedal, there’s no response. There could be any number of reasons why the brakes have failed, none of which really matter at the moment because you can’t stop your automobile. But instead of switching to panic mode and screaming in terror, keep a level head and take these necessary steps to stopping the car safely and quickly.
Shift to a Lower Gear
If you’re driving a manual transmission, this may be a second nature step for you since it’s possible you already slow your motor vehicle using the gear shift. But most drivers have cars with automatic transmissions and they may not be well-versed in the concept of downshifting to slow or stop their vehicle. However, it’s very simple but it has to be handled carefully. In your fear and panic you may be tempted to throw it out of Drive and into the nearest numbered gear. But do it slowly and you won’t go into a skid. Downshifting is also vital to solving your issue because putting it into Neutral gives you absolutely no control over the car. You need it in gear to get the slowing effect.
Pump the Brakes
Sure, they didn’t work the first two or three times you stomped on the brake pedal. But you should try pumping the brakes as you’re downshifting as this will help to increase pressure in the brake fluid and possibly bring your brakes back, albeit temporarily. But, and this is a big but, never do this with anti-lock brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes or pumping isn’t getting the job done, you have another option.
Engage the Parking Brake
The parking or emergency brake is designed to keep your car in place when parked. But while you’re currently rolling at 40mph right into an intersection with a red light, it’s going to be your closest ally to prevent you from colliding with something or someone. Grab it and pull it up. If you have a pedal activated parking brake, step down. Do both of these smoothly and not too quickly. It may not stop the car completely but it will slow the vehicle considerably and should work well in conjunction with your downshifting.
Pull to the Shoulder
Once you’ve regained control of the vehicle and you’ve caught your breath again, pull over immediately. The car is no longer safe to drive on the road. You may not be thinking clearly from the panic and fear you’ve just experienced, so be careful about other drivers around you. Make sure you put your hazard lights on to alert motorists that you are pulling over and be sure to check your mirrors if you need to change lanes to get off the road.
The best way to avoid incurring any car repair costs is to have your brake pads, drums, and fluid routinely checked. This is one of the most important car maintenance tips of which you should be aware since the brakes of the car are so vital to ensuring your safe travels from point A to point B.