It can be incredibly frightening if your brakes suddenly “go out” while you are driving. First things first, don’t freak out. Staying calm is essential, every though you are scared.

So, what SHOULD you do if your brakes aren’t, well, braking?

  1. According to Allstate, “Unless you’re behind the wheel of a classic car, your vehicle likely has a dual braking system, which controls your front and rear brakes independently. As a result, both halves of the system would have to fail for your car to totally lose all braking power. Still, reducing your car’s braking ability in half can be enough to make it feel unsafe, but there may still be some stopping power. Try applying strong, consistent pressure to the brake pedal to see if you can slow the car down.” 
  2. Also, definitely don’t give the car any more gas. Try getting it to slow down some by taking your foot completely off the pedal, and pump your brakes a few times, quickly, to see if there is any leftover brake pressure.
  3. Shift to a lower gear. Also, DefensiveDriving.com says, “If the brakes haven’t started working after three or four pumps … use the parking brake. Gradually apply the parking brake and be prepared for the car to skid.”
  4. Staying calm and having the presence of mind to turn on your hazards helps let others around you know you are having a major issue. Honking the horn, along with the hazards, should let other drivers know to clear out of your way.
  5. Avoid turning off the car. Yes, it SEEMS like a good idea to get the car to stop, but it could very well cause your power steering to not work and if that’s the case, that is just one more hazard you are trying to deal with at the same time.
  6. If it looks like you have to hit something in order to slow down and stop, try your best to have the side of your car run along something such as a fence line or roadside rail or even shrubbery. Avoid other cars, certainly, and definitely avoid pedestrians! While it seems impossible to avoid hitting anything head on, you also want to try not to make a sharp swerve or turn. Yes, unfortunately a daunting task to try not to do either!  Mostly keep a sharp eye out, keep a cool head, and deal with the situation as safely as you can. SafeMotorist.com has other helpful tips on the subject.

If this intimidating situation occurs, please do NOT drive your vehicle again until your brakes are fixed or replaced.

 

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