You’re driving down the road and traffic ahead of you has slowed down which mean you need to apply your brakes. Then one of the most terrifying things happen: your brake pedal goes to the floor and you’re not slowing down. The cars ahead of you are getting closer and closer.
What do you do?
That’s easy to say when it appears that you’re heading for impending doom as a result of a brake system failure. But it’s critical that you keep you wits if you’re going to get out this predicament. Remaining calm will help you with the other solutions outlined below.
Turn Your Hazard Light On
It’s important to let those around you, both in front and behind, that there’s a problem so they can give you more space. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself exactly where the hazard button is on your vehicle so you can use when needed.
Pump the Brake Pedal
Pumping the brake pedal in a fast manner can accomplish two things. First, it will cause the brake light to go on and off, hopefully alerting drivers behind you that there is a problem. Most importantly, though, the goal is to quickly build up pressure in the brake line. This should give you enough operating braking capacity to slow down.
Pull on the Hand Brake
As you are trying to slow down, put your thumb on the button of the hand brake (parking brake). With your thumb on the button, pull it up slowly so the lever rises. Do NOT pull it up all the way, as this can cause your back wheels to lock and you will skid and lose control. Once stopped, you should pull the emergency brake up all the way and lock in position so your car will remain stopped. Note that the braking capacity of a parking brake is about half that of your normal brakes. In other words, you will need twice as much distance to slow down or stop.
Drop Your Gear Selector into a Lower Gear
If the first two suggestions don’t work, pull your gear selector down from Drive (where it usually is) to a lower gear. Be careful not to downshift to too low of a gear as this might damage the engine. This will make your car slow down and hopefully allow you to maneuver around danger.
Do NOT turn the engine off
It might sound appropriate to turn the engine off in this situation, but nothing can be further from the truth. This will increase the danger because you will lose your power steering. Keep the engine running.
Have Your Car Towed to an Auto Repair Shop
This is common sense, but don’t even think about continuing to drive after you’ve been through a brake system failure. Get it towed to a professional auto mechanic shop and have the problem fixed by people who know what they’re doing.
Brake system problems are nothing to mess with and should be looked at by mechanics who specialize in how to keep you and your family safe. If you’re located in northwest Arkansas, call ASE Certified Seeburg Service Center for help. Our experienced, knowledgeable, and friendly mechanics will give your car a free brake inspection, prescribe a remedy, and offer a solution. To get started, please give us a call or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!