One of the worst things that can happen when you are driving down the road is having your brakes go out. Not only is it frustrating, but it can be very dangerous for you and others on the road. You need to act quickly when your brakes go out and not hesitate even for a moment. Here are some tips for knowing what to do if your brakes ever go out while you are driving.
Know What Type of Brakes You Have
One thing you can do now before you have dealt with brakes going out while driving is finding out exactly what type of brakes you have. There are certain steps in dealing with brakes going out that differ depending on your type of brakes. Anti-lock brakes have some special steps involved, including how to use the pedal if the brakes go out. Check your manual or ask a mechanic at Import Specialty Auto to tell you exactly what type of brakes your vehicle has.
The first thing to remember when your brakes go out, is not to turn your car off. This is a mistake some people make, assuming it will help their car slow down faster. However, it is a big mistake. If you turn your car off before pulling over and stopping completely, your power steering will stop working. This makes it very difficult to maneuver your car.
If you feel the brakes go out, immediately step your foot off the gas and turn the hazard lights on. Shift your vehicle into a lower gear, even if you have an automatic transmission. This will help to slow it down.
As you begin letting your car slow down, start making your way over to the shoulder. If you are in the left lane of the freeway, start making your way over as soon as possible, before your car starts slowing down too much. You don't want to cause a collision. When pulling over, you are trying to find somewhere safe to slow down without getting into a major accident. That might mean rolling off the exit ramp, lightly hitting the freeway bumper on the shoulder, or driving farther down a road in the right lane until your car stops.
If you have standard brakes, you will start pumping the brakes as you are finding a safe place to stop. With anti-lock brakes, you will push the brake pedal all the way to the floor while steering. Once the vehicle is stopped in a safe place, shift into neutral then pull the emergency brake.
Once your car is stopped, you can turn off the engine. Call a tow truck so you can bring your vehicle to a mechanic right away. Even if you think you can safely get home by going slowly, do not attempt this. It is extremely dangerous and you never know what could happen. Instead, stop at the closest place you can find and call for help.
Preventing Brake Failure
The best way to prevent brake failure is by having your brake system inspected regularly. Most auto shops that perform regular tune-ups will also check your brakes. Make sure you ask them if they perform brake inspections. They can let you know if they see worn brake pads, a brake line that is leaking, or a warped drum. You will be able to get repairs you need before you are driving 60 MPH on the highway and realize your car's brakes won't work. Also get the brakes looked at if you hear any odd squeals or squeaking when applying the brakes, or if it seems like you need to push the pedal down farther than you used to. These are signs of needing repairs.