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Emergency: What to Do if Your Brakes Fail


If you’re brakes fail, don’t panic. It’s true that it is a driver’s worst nightmare but it doesn’t have to lead to catastrophe. Here are some things that you can do.


1.         Pump Your Brake Pedal. This may help depressurize a leaking circuit. Once the pedal firms up, stop pumping and hold it.


2.         Use the Parking Brake. That’s right, pull up the emergency brake. They don’t call it an emergency brake for nothing. Don’t panic if it doesn’t work right away. The faster you are going the longer it will take to slow you down, but give it a little time and it will work.


3.         Do not shut off your Motor. This may be one of the first things you’ll probably want to do, but don’t. It won’t stop your car and you’ll need your motor running for your power steering to work.


4.         Scrape Against Something. Notice I didn’t say crash. One thing you can scrape against is a rail. The friction will help you slow down. It might damage your paint a bit but it could save your life, so give it a try.


5.         Try Reverse. One “last ditch” effort includes putting the automatic transmission in reverse. Please be advised that this is a very tricky maneuver indeed and can cause severe damage to your car. It could also cause your car to go out of control. For tips on how to do this safely, please follow these 3 tips:


a.         Select Reverse: The only way to stop an automatic transmission equipped car by using the transmission is to throw it into reverse. The problem with this is that you will inevitably ruin the transmission. However, this method won’t work with computer-controlled transmissions. Warning: Never put the transmission in reverse while going forward unless absolutely necessary because it is very dangerous and you could cause significant damage to your drive shaft, transmission or transaxle if you do it incorrectly.


b.         Amount of Throttle. Remember that the amount of throttle is critical to making this work. If you take your foot off the gas pedal when slamming it in reverse, the engine will stall and the transmission will lock up the wheels. To get the transmission to engage in reverse, the engine speed must be raised slightly, which will cause the drivetrain to engage in the opposite direction.


c.         Not too much or too little Gas. If you use too much, the wheels will smoke and spin out of control. Too little and the engine will stall.


Finally, try not to panic.  If you lose control of yourself, you will most likely lose control of the car.  This is the one time when you need to “keep your cool” – your life is most likely at stake.


Also see

Your Car's Mechanical Condition

Finding a Good Mechanic Doesn't Have to Give You a Headache -part 3 in a series.

Three Reasons Why Your Car May Not Start -Can't get the car out of your driveway?  Read on!

Fuel and Induction System Cleaning-get real benefits for fuel economy, engine performance and lower emissions.

Don't Take the Heat: How to Maintain Your Car's Cooling System -a few tips you should be aware of that will help you get the most out of your car's A/C system.



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