Imagine driving down the highway, listening to your favorite music, whether it's Nigerian or not, and bobbing your head in time. Your hands are firmly planted on the steering wheel, your gaze is fixed on the road, and your thoughts are focused on your objective. But then you hit the brake pedal as you approach traffic or a pothole on the road, but nothing happens. You press it once more, this time harder, but your automobile still refuses to stop.
If you started shouting, no one would blame you. It's a terrible predicament, and you never anticipated something like this to happen to you. After all, no motorist ever anticipates an accident when driving.
No one wishes for something like this to happen to them, as similar incidents have resulted in fatalities or serious injuries, including permanent disability.
However, if you ever find yourself in this circumstance, don't freak out. The biggest error you can make is to believe there is nothing you can do, when there are various ways you may properly handle the situation and save your life and the lives of others on the road.
So, if you're driving and your brakes fail, experts recommend doing the actions below to stay alive.
1. Draw attention to your car
As soon as you realize your brakes have failed, alert other vehicles and pedestrians, according to Peter Schmiedchen of Whatifshow.com. To bring attention to your car, switch on your danger lights and honk your horn, possibly repeatedly.
People will notice your warning lights and realize something is amiss. This may persuade them to move out of your way and make room for you. This can also help to lessen the likelihood of colliding with other vehicles.
2. Apply tyre friction
Schmiedchen claims that friction is the brakes' best friend, and that friction on the brake disc causes the car to slow down. Experts claim friction can help you even if your brakes aren't working.
Start driving the car in a zigzag pattern if the roads are clear and you are able to do so. The friction created by the tyres on the road will aid in slowing down.
Another option is to drive carefully against the guardrail. This will also aid in the reduction of speed.
If those suggestions aren't adequate, try driving over tiny plants and shrubs on the side of the road if possible. Keep in mind that you're attempting to save your life, not the car.
3. Apply the emergency brake
Vehicles, according to Moshood Bandele, a Lagos-based automobile repairer, have two braking systems: main and secondary. The foot brake is the primary system, while the handbrake or emergency brake, or e-brake for short, is the secondary system.
According to Bandele, the emergency brake bypasses the hydraulic system and links to the rear brakes through a metal cable.
“If your primary brakes fail, the emergency brake should still function, though it won't stop the car,” he explains.
According to experts, the emergency brake works best when applied slowly and cautiously. If you apply it too quickly, the back brakes may lock up and send you spinning out of control.
It goes without saying that you must be aware of the location of your emergency brake. A hand-activated lever is used in certain cars, whereas a small pedal to the left of the gas and brake pedals is used in others.
It's a good idea to test your emergency brake at a low speed to evaluate how effective it is. You can use an empty parking lot or other areas where no cars or pedestrians are present.
If your vehicle has a manual transmission, Schmiedchen recommends gradually lowering the gears.
“This is referred to as engine braking,” he explains.
“It's possible that you've heard about 18-wheelers doing this. At higher revolutions per minute, or RPMs, the aim is to shift to a lower gear. This increases the torque transmitted via the transmission and creates a vacuum inside the manifold, which the pistons must overcome.
“As a result, the power and speed will decrease. Don't do this too quickly, just like with the emergency brake. If you accelerate through the gears too quickly, the back wheels may slow down too quickly, causing your automobile to spin,” Schmiedchen explains.
If you drive an automatic automobile, you may have access to a triptronic transmission, which allows you to bypass the automatic system and select the gear you desire.
Schmiedchen continues, "Slowly move back down the gears, down to the first gear."
Similarly, Bandele warns against downshifting too abruptly, which can result in a skid.
Bandele also warns against placing the car in neutral since the engine braking effect would be lost.
“You can try pumping the brakes quickly if you have ordinary brakes (not anti-lock brakes),” he explains.
Experts at Defense Driving in the United States believe that every motorist should know if they have anti-lock brakes or normal brakes before downshifting. Here's how to figure it out: Anti-lock brakes are indicated by a logo that lights up whenever you start your automobile and says ABS. If you don't, you're on standard brakes.
4. Head for the hills
If you're still trying to slow down, search for a hill or any uphill slope that can help you, according to Schmiedchen. An on-ramp, a sloping roadway, or even a particularly built run-off area could be the culprit. Even a little upward incline may produce enough gravitational pull to bring you to a complete stop.
When you've managed to stop your automobile, contact for assistance to tow it to a repair shop. Even if you can get your brakes to work again after a malfunction, you should still take your car to a mechanic for an inspection. Attempting to continue driving is far too risky.
Common brake failure causes, maintenance tips
Meanwhile, brake failure is a common occurrence. As a result, it is critical for car owners to recognize the warning indications before entering into a dangerous situation. According to professionals from Ace Mechanics in Australia, the following are some of the indicators that a car's brakes are failing.
Excessive use of brake pads can cause them to overheat and become hard or brittle. This hardness reduces the pads' ability to grip the wheel rotor disk adequately, lengthening the distance required to stop the car.
Damaged rotor disks on the wheel can shorten the life of your brake pads and make stopping more difficult. When your brake pads are replaced, have your rotor disks smoothed or "turned" by a trained mechanic.
Leaking hydraulic fluid: Your car's engine or brake lines may leak oil or other hydraulic fluid. If you're having trouble stopping, have your brakes checked to rule out contamination from a leaking hydraulic line.
Driving through mud or water: Driving through mud or water “lubricates” your brake pads and rotor disks in a natural way. Gently tapping the brakes will help remove excess water and restore adequate friction between the brake pads and the rotor disks in your car. When driving in wet circumstances, be extra cautious, especially if your car's wheels are partially buried in water.
Hydraulic brake fluid pressure loss: If your hydraulic brake fluid pressure drops, your ability to stop swiftly will suffer. If your brakes don't seem to be working or are only operating intermittently, tap them several times to help pump fluid through the system. Despite its effectiveness in assisting you in stopping your car, this approach should only be utilized when absolutely required. Check your braking system for leaks and refill the brake fluid reservoir with a trained brake specialist.
Overloading your vehicle: Overloading any vehicle can affect its ability to stop and may cause braking system damage. Only load your car according to the instructions in the owner's manual. So try to get rid of any unneeded goods and don't load your automobile up with more weight than it can comfortably manage. Before putting aftermarket goods on your car, keep in mind that they may be heavier than their original equipment counterparts. The lighter your vehicle is, the easier it is on your brakes, tyres, gas tank, and, eventually, your wallet!
Unusual noises, unexpected brake reaction, and an abnormal feeling when pressing on the brakes are all warning indications to look out for. These symptoms could signal a potentially dangerous condition, so get your brakes checked right now.
Whenever possible, coast to slow down before engaging the brakes when driving. This reduces the strain on your car's brakes, which helps them last longer.
When automobiles ahead of you brake unnecessarily, avoid braking. They may, for example, be following too closely behind the vehicle in front of them while you have plenty of room to coast. Slow down and maintain a safe distance behind them, not only to protect your brakes but also for your personal safety.
Invest in high-quality, long-lasting brakes. They may be a little more expensive up front, but they will pay off in terms of efficiency, safety, and durability in the long run.
Avoid being a speed demon: High speed is the greatest enemy of brakes. The more energy and brake material it takes for your vehicle's braking system to stop the automobile at a faster speed, the more energy and brake material it needs to stop the car. It's best if you stick to the speed limits set by organizations like the Federal Road Safety Corps.
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