If you are driving along and hit your brake pedal but get no response from your vehicle, you will need to think fast about how to get it to slow down or stop. When brakes fail to work properly, you have a few options at your disposal to get your vehicle off the road for your safety as well as the safety of others in the vicinity. Here are steps to take if you find your vehicle is exhibiting a no-brake condition.
Pump the Brake Pedal
If your brake line has an air bubble blocking the passageway your brake fluid uses to get to your brakes, you may find pushing the brake pedal does not help in stopping your vehicle. If the culprit is indeed trapped air, pumping the brake pedal up and down very quickly can help dislodge it from the line. As soon as you notice the pedal goes to the floor without a slowing reaction, pump the pedal right away. If your vehicle has an emergency braking system, keep the pedal pushed down until you feel resistance. The vehicle's computer system will take over the pumping action to redistribute the braking fluid through the line.
Utilize the Emergency Brake
Each vehicle has a back-up braking system for emergency situations. This emergency brake lever will usually be located either in your middle console area, at the bottom of your dashboard, or near the floorboards on the driver's side of the vehicle. Knowing where the lever is located in case of a no-brake situation can be a life-saving step. When pulling the brake, do so slowly yet steadily so your vehicle slows, then stops, without fishtailing in the process.
Downshift the Driving Gear
If your vehicle fails to slow after you try other braking methods, try downshifting the vehicle from drive to one of the low gears. You will hear the transmission rev in response to the shift change, and the vehicle will start to slow in speed as a result. Try moving your vehicle toward the shoulder of the roadway and put on your hazard flashers to alert others that there is a problem so they stay out of your way as you try to bring the vehicle to a stop. When you feel you are driving at a slow enough speed, place your vehicle in neutral to bring it to a complete stop. If possible, drive toward an incline in the road level to help bring your vehicle to a stop a bit quicker.
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