Think about it! Getting behind the wheel, plans all set and you are on the expressway now and suddenly, you realize that your brakes are gone (as in Fail). Though, we all hope that no one should deal with such situation, due to any mechanical malfunction while sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle. But, it is good for every driver to know of what to do during an emergency like such. These situations are in its rarity, but life is rare too! An extra time to learn how to properly control a vehicle with no brakes will help you of not getting into any catastrophic accident.
Do Not Panic
While this is an obvious frightened situation, but the first thing that you can do is stay focused, alert and try to be calm. You can expect nothing good by panicking and moreover, it might increase your risk of making a mistake that could lead to serious harm. To Alert others who all are in the close proximity of your vehicle, switch on the hazard lights and honk the horn.
Step off the Accelerator
Your first action would be taking your foot off from the accelerator pedal, as our main objective here is to slow down the vehicle. If you have cruise control on, then you should calmly switch it off before doing anything else.
Downshift to Lower Gear
One of the most important technique during this situation is to slowly shift to the lower gears. Basically, shifting into a lower gear allows the engine to slow the car and your engine’s transmission will actually become a brake. You can downshift in both manual transmissions as well as automatic transmissions. While driving an automatic car, a driver should switch to manual shifting (+/-) and start by slowly shifting into the third or second gear. Once the momentum of the vehicle starts to lose, then you can further shift to the first gear, until the vehicle comes to a stop and the process carried out in the manuals as well. By doing this, your engine’s transmission will actually become a brake.
Note: Do not put the vehicle in the lowest gear right away as it might compromise your control, so try and shift in steps.
Use Parking or Hand brakes
Parking brakes are not just limited to keep a vehicle from rolling down a hill after it is parked, but can also be of good use in such situation. Parking must be applied slowly and those who think that pulling the brake-handle hard can stop the car suddenly and quickly. You are Wrong! And might risk losing control over the car. Being the secondary braking, parking brakes can usually stop a vehicle if the brakes fail, although the braking time will be longer than usual to come to a stop.
Find the right spot to stop
Try to pull over your vehicle on a right spot, keeping your vehicle away from the heavy traffic. Drivers should avoid parking their vehicles around corners or blind spots. Try to get off the road and as aforementioned do not forget to alert others around by switching on the hazard lights.
Some General Tips to Remember
Do not get your hands off the steering when you are panicking, control over the steering is what you need apart from braking.
If your brakes start to make even a bit of pressure, you must not attempt to drive it. As the entire brake system needs to get a thorough inspection by a professional technician.
When making your way out of traffic toward an exit or off of the road, use your lights and horns to alert the other drivers as well.
Do not turn ignition off, as it will not stop the car at the time of need, but will shut down other system such as power steering and will be extremely difficult, when pulling over.
Do shift to neutral, as the engine braking will lose effect, while you were planning to downshift.
Finally, if the situation is in the extremities and you might hit a human, its best to make use of any guardrails, soft sand or any soft spot to slow down your vehicle with friction.