How to Stop a Car With No Brakes

How to Stop a Car With No Brakes

There is always a chance of things going wrong with a key component of your braking system. It could be a hydraulics leak or a pad failure, but no matter what exactly it is once your brakes fail you are entering a dangerous emergency situation that you need to address with composure. Here are the safest ways to bring your car to a stop once you experience a braking system failure.

Pump the Pedal


If the problem is a brake fluid leak, your brakes won’t work because there simply isn’t enough pressure for the calipers to close with adequate force. Even in the case of a leak, pumping the pedal several times quickly can build up the required pressure in the braking system so you may stop the vehicle safely on the side of the road.

Use the Gearbox


If that doesn’t work, you should proceed to shifting to a lower gear if possible. This is easier on an automatic since the gearbox will take care of the clutching, but if you are using a manual you should be careful as failing to use the clutch properly will result in the vehicle going faster as it will be left on neutral.

If you are traveling downhill, shift one gear down and stay on that as trying to go further down will almost certainly result in failure to engage the lower gear. If however you are traveling on a level road or uphills, then shifting down gears consecutively will be way easier.

Use the Handbrake


Once you have shifted to the lowest gear possible considering your speed, you should start using your handbrake but do so very smoothly and carefully. First, lift the handbrake on its first-second scale and no more than that as locking the rear wheels when on speed will result in the loss of control.

When lifting the handbrake even slightly, you should keep your steering wheel straight or else you may again loose control of the vehicle. This basically means that you should not use the handbrake solution if you are going downhills and on a twisty road.



If none of the above works or is possible to apply for any reason, try to find a location that will result in the safest and smoothest collision possible. Things like bushes, dirt hillocks, and sandy parts on the side of the road are ideal for safe deceleration. Avoid pedestrians, trees, moving cars, and road light poles at all costs.

If nothing else is possible, try to find a parked car with no one inside or nearby and crash on it. It is better to crash on a parked car if you have no other option since it will absorb more kinetic energy than poles and trees.

As always, practicing your response in this emergency situation will help you stay calm and act quickly and decisively when/if your braking system ever fails. Practicing the gearbox changes and the mild use of handbrake when the conditions allow it and at a low speed at least once.

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