The single most essential part of your vehicle which you must always keep in perfect working conditions is the braking system. The life of the car, your safety and that of other people in the car and on the road depends on the brakes. Ignoring to check how they are doing is as good as driving around with your death certificate. You should remember to check the entire system every year, but you need to regularly inspect braking elements like drums, pads, rotors, shoes, calipers and the fluid every time you visit an automotive repair shop.
Braking Elements That Need Your Keen Attention
Whenever you press on the pedals, it is crucial to pay attention to the sounds your brakes emit. Any slight squeak could mean there is friction in the brake lining which under severe circumstances can cause serious damage to the rotors and the brake drum, the pads and the lining.
If the brake pads are worn out, you will hear a grinding noise caused by metal contacting metal that can lead to rotor and drum damage. The only noise you should expect to come from the brakes is absolute silence. If your car pulls one way when you are braking, it could mean there is damage on the brake line or it could be due to uneven and worn linings, and if the brakes are poorly adjusted or if the brake fluid is contaminated you can experience a drag on the brakes.
But if you have to pump the brakes several times before the car stops, it could mean your brakes need to be adjusted or you should check your brake lines for air presence or a leak in the system. Worse still is to have pedals that sink completely to the floor board when you are stopping at the traffic lights.
Any of the conditions mentioned above are indicators of faulty brakes, and because you should never be too careful with brakes, it is essential that you have a certified braking expert to examine your car.
How To Respond to Brake Failure
A real horror situation that you must do everything possible not to confront is the realization that your brakes are flat out when you are driving. Noticing that your brakes are gone when the car is speeding on the road is the most terrifying emergency a driver can expect. While it is everyone’s prayer that this should not take place, it is equally imperative that you should equip yourself with a few basic skills and knowledge about how to respond when your brakes fail. Here are important tips from the Cheapest Auto Insurance in Dallas, TX that you need to always keep in mind.
A panic attack while you are driving can throw you into dangerous confusion. It is best to do everything to stay calm and think of how to safely remove your car out of the traffic. A clear and focused mind, which you cannot possess in a state of confusion, is all you need behind the wheels when your brakes refuse to respond.
Try to Nudge the Brakes into Action
Nearly all modern cars/vehicles have braking systems that independently work with the rear and front brakes. For your car to completely loose the power to stop, it means that the two systems have to totally fail, which is quite a rare but still a possible occurrence. Before you give up the control of the car to the gods of miracles, you should try your brakes repeatedly by applying consistent and strong pressure to the pedals to try and slow the vehicle. Though it is not safe to have reduced braking power, it is better than losing all braking. So give your brakes several more trials before you begin thinking of evacuation procedures!
Implement Emergency Measures to Lower the Car’s Speed
You always have a different option of stopping the car by applying the emergency brakes even when the main brakes fail. The brake system for emergencies is separate and it works independently from the major hydraulic system. Use it if the main brakes fail. However, it is important to note that unlike the traditional pedal brakes, the emergency system will take a longer time to stop the car.
The engine can also slow down the vehicle if you remove your foot from the accelerator while you downshift to lower gears. You can significantly reduce the car’s speed by working your way down the gears if the vehicle has a manual transmission, but if it uses automatic transmission, taking your foot off the accelerator pedal will make the car to slow down by backing off to the low gears.
Some new models have both automatic and manual transmission systems. The pedal shifters that allow you to drive the car manually are levers located on the steering wheels. You can change to the manual transmission mode by downshifting to the lower gears. If you drive such a car, it is important to familiarize yourself with how the system works by reading the user manual. Just remember that you need a cool head to manipulate the car to a stop in these ways.
Maneuver the Car from the Traffic
To reduce the chances of a crash after the car has considerably slowed down; you should carefully maneuver it away from the traffic. This can be a bit tricky if you are driving on a major highway in which you may need to cross several lanes to get it out of the road. Do the following.
All your senses should be alert to the surrounding cars as you are cautiously finding your way to the slow lane.
Make sure your signals are correctly turned on and indicating your intention.
Employ other measures such as using your horn and lights to notify the other drivers that something has gone awry with your car.
Be on the lookout for any dangers and concentrate on steering around them.
And when you have safely made it to the slow lane, switch on you hazard lights.
Don’t forget you are taking all these measures because you don’t have brakes. So direct the car to a safe spot like a parking lot or the road shoulder before shifting into neutral. Using the emergency or parking brakes will help stop the vehicle, but if the car threatens to skid, release and let it go. At the stage when even the emergency braking fail, you will need ingenuity and luck. If there is a soft shoulder, drive into it or you can try to scrub of some speed by rubbing the wheels on the curb. Just remember to keep your eyes and reflexes alert.
Keep the Engine Running
The worst mistake you should never make is to try to slow down by turning the engine off before the car has completely stopped. One of two things could happen if you turn of the ignition.
It can make the steering wheel to lock in place
When the engine is off, the power steering will also shut down leaving you with the difficult task of controlling or losing control of the car.
Try to Get Assistance
Of course not before the car has stopped! The safest thing to do is to get it off the road first and letting it stop before you can turn off the engine. Once you are safe and the car is out of the road, give indications that you have a problem by letting the hazard lights on and raising the hood. Increase your visibility by putting road flares or the reflective triangles behind the car. While using you phone to get help, stand away from both your car and oncoming traffic.
Have the Vehicle Towed
It would be suicidal to try driving the car even if the brakes appear to function well again. The safest thing to do is to notify the nearest road assistance service to have you car towed to a mechanic or dealership for inspection and repairs.
But the best precaution against brake failure and other similar mishaps is to take your car for regular checks and maintenance.