What To Do In Case Of Complete Brake Failure

November 3rd, 2015
Brake Repair in Gallatin, TNYou’re headed to work, everything’s going along fine and you’re thinking about the day ahead…then you step on the brake pedal, it goes all the way to the floor and nothing happens. Your vehicle doesn’t even slow down a little. What do you do? 
Total brake failure isn’t a scenario that happens very often, but it’s still possible. Something like a failed brake line could result in zero braking ability. Here are a couple of ways to handle it: 
  • Downshift right away. Putting the vehicle in a lower gear, whether you have an automatic or manual transmission, will allow the drivetrain and engine to slow the car down. Don’t worry about your transmission right now – you’ll have much bigger problems if you hit something because you couldn’t slow down. Don’t put the car in neutral and don’t shut the engine off until you’re already slowed down considerably; turning the engine off means you will lose your power steering.
  • Try the emergency brake. The emergency brake is usually a mechanical system, so there’s a chance it might still work. Since it usually only works on the rear wheels, though, don’t depend on it to stop you. 
  • Try to get over to the shoulder or median as soon as possible. Blast your horn, use your turn signals or put on your flashers to alert other drivers that there’s a problem. 
  • Check for something blocking the brake pedal. It sounds ridiculous, but it happens fairly often…a coffee cup, soda can or even the floor mat gets between the brake pedal and the floorboard. If there’s something there and if you have time to react, kick it out of the way! 
  • Find something forgiving to hit. Obviously this is a last-resort judgment call, but you’re going to be better off putting the car in a ditch or up against a guardrail than hitting another car or a telephone pole! 
Total brake failure is a nightmare, worst-case-scenario event. It’s something that shouldn’t ever happen on a properly-maintained car. Our automotive techs at American Tire in Gallatin, TN are experienced and trained in all aspects of brake repair and can spot any impending brake failure before it can happen. Make an appointment with us and let us help keep you safe with timely brake repair! 
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101