Brake Failure – Emergency Braking – Wet Brakes

Earlier on, you read about making hard stops. You remember that the type of brakes your vehicle is equipped with dictate what you should do. As a brief reminder, know to pump your brakes in a hard stop if your vehicle has standard brakes. Do this quickly and with as much pressure as you can muster. If you just press and hold the brake pedal, your wheels can lock up. With ABS brakes, hit the brake pedal and maintain pressure. Steer clear of whatever it is you are trying to avoid. Just be aware that, if your vehicle has ABS and you pump the brakes in a hard stop, you may actually turn off the ABS capability.

            Most vehicles have ABS on all four wheels. So, the technique you just read about will pertain to you and your vehicle. Be aware, though, that some light trucks have only two-wheel ABS. This is typically on the rear wheels. If you know you are driving such a vehicle, let up on the brake a bit if you feel the front wheels lock up. You will regain control once you feel the front wheels begin to roll again.

Failing brakes is another situation altogether. You’ll know when this happens. For one thing, when you hit the brakes, your vehicle will not slow, not even a bit. On top of that, you may very well feel the brake pedal go all the way to the floor when you depress it. What to do?

  • Stay calm. This is no time to panic and, you need a clear head to react quickly and effectively.
  • If your vehicle has standard brakes, pump the pedal as hard as you can as fast as you can. This may get just enough fluid to the brakes and allow you to stop. Notice the word “may.”
  • Shift to a lower gear. If your vehicle has ABS, this should be the first thing you do after realizing you’ve lost braking capacity. By the way, it is possible to do this with automatic transmissions and not just with manual.
  • Slowly apply your parking brake. Keep pressure on the release button so you have some control over the process. This will also prevent your rear wheels from locking up.
  • Position your vehicle so that your tires rub against the curb. This will help to slow you down. It’s also no time to worry about your tires.
  • In the worst case, look for a spot where you can get off the road and into an open area with no vehicles or VRUs. Try to find a place where you can eventually roll to a stop.

You read about dealing with wet brakes a bit earlier. While typically a temporary condition, it is still an onboard emergency no less dangerous than the others. Just remember that you must dry your brakes as soon as you can. If you go through a puddle and feel your vehicle pulling to the side, put your vehicle into a lower gear. Continue to drive with your foot on the accelerator. At the same time, apply light pressure to the brakes. This should be enough to dry them out.

Now for the other side of the coin…

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