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Follow these defensive measures if your car brakes ever fail while you’re driving.
Brake failure is one of the most terrifying things that can happen to a driver on the road. If you ever find yourself in such a predicament, would you know how to react?
Luckily for you, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide on what to do in the event of brake failure. Before getting started, remember to remain calm and keep a cool head. Panicking will only make the matter worse.
1. Warn Out Road Users
If your brake fails, remember to keep a clear and calm mind. Panicking will only make the situation worse. Instead, focus on getting your car safely off the road. Flash your high beam and sound your horn to warn out motorists and road users. This should tell them that something’s wrong and give them a chance to react accordingly.
2. Shift to a Lower Gear to Employ Engine Braking
If your foot brake fails, you can shift your car to a lower gear to make use of engine braking. This occurs when retarding forces in your engine are used to naturally slow a vehicle down. For automatic vehicles, simply shift your gear from Drive to the lowest possible gear (usually labelled “1” on your gear box). For manual cars, simply lower your gears like you normally would.
Remember not to downshift too quickly as this might cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
3. Pump Your Brakes
You can build pressure in your braking system by pumping your brakes repeatedly. If your car has an anti-braking system (ABS), just press down hard on the foot pedal. Your car’s ABS should automatically pump the brakes for you.
For cars without ABS, you’ll need to step down on the pedal several times to build enough pressure. Once enough pressure is built, simply press down on the pedal again and keep it down on the floor.
4. Use Your Emergency Brake
Another way to stop your car is to use your emergency brake (e-brake). However, take note that the e-brake only stops the rear wheels of your car. To use your e-brake, press the release button on the brake handle and slowly regulate the pressure. Under no circumstances should you engage it while travelling at high speeds – it will cause the wheels to lockup and you might lose control of your car.
5. Use the Terrain to Slow Your Vehicle Down
When all else fails, you can use the terrain around you to slow your vehicle down. Here are some examples:
- Inclining roads. With the help of gravity, you can slow your vehicle down significantly. Use it together with your e-brake to bring your car to a stop.
- Guardrails or barriers. Striking these obstacles could help slow your vehicle down, at the cost of physical damage to your car. Road curbs are also an alternative. When approaching these obstacles, remember to strike them at a diagonal angle.
- Small trees and shrubs. You could also drive your car into small trees, shrubs and bushes to slow your speed. Avoid large trees if possible and remember to position your vehicle in the centre of these obstacles.
- Striking another car. Often used as a last resort, you could use other vehicles to stop your car. When doing so, try to hit the other car square in the back. That way, the other driver will an easier time controlling his vehicle.
Do you have any tips you wish to add? Share them with us in the comments below.
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