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What if My Brakes Fail While I’m Driving?

Two cars that have been totaled at an accident scene on a road.

When it comes to driving, brake failure is one of the most alarming situations you can find yourself in. It's an incredibly dangerous scenario, and unfortunately, it happens more often than many people realize. In this blog post, we’ll explain what to do if your brakes fail while you’re driving, so that if you ever find yourself in such a predicament, you’ll know what to do.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Brakes Failing While Driving?

It is incredibly important to pay attention to brake maintenance because brake issues can be extremely dangerous. Common causes of failing brakes while driving can include:

  • Your brakes can fail if you have worn down brake pads or brake fluid leaks.
  • Brake failure can occur if the wrong type of fluids have been added to the braking system.
  • Dirt buildup on the brakes due to water, mud, or debris entering the braking components through a leaky hose connection can cause issues that lead to brake failure.

Inspecting your brakes regularly and maintaining them per manufacturer's recommendations is key in preventing unexpected issues like these from arising.

How to Prevent Brake Failure While Driving

When it comes to preventing brake failure while driving, being proactive is key. Regularly check your car’s brakes and brake fluid levels and make sure they are in working order before you head out on the road.

In addition, if your car displays any signs of hard braking or slow response time when applying the brakes, take it to get checked out as soon as possible.

Lastly, practice defensive driving by maintaining safe following distances and always observing traffic laws. This enables you to provide yourself with extra reaction time in case an emergency arises and you have to brake suddenly.

In some cases, taking the steps listed above may just be what saves you from having a brake failure on the road.

How to Tell When Your Brakes Need Attention or Replacement

It is important to stay vigilant when it comes to checking the condition of your brakes. Signs of brake failure can include:

  • Screeching noises when you apply the brakes
  • A low grinding sound when braking
  • Difficulty pushing down the brake pedal
  • An unexpected pulling sensation to one side when stopping

Many of the braking problems mentioned above can be caused by worn out brake pads, fluid leaks, or other mechanical issues with your brakes. So, if you suddenly notice any of the signs listed above while driving, it is best to pull off the road as soon as safely possible and have your brakes inspected. Not only for safety sake, but also to minimize the damage and cost of repairs.

What to Do If Your Brakes Fail While You're Behind the Wheel

If your vehicle's brakes fail while you are in motion, the best course of action is to remain calm and focus on removing yourself from danger in a safe way. Look for a place off to the side of the road where you can gradually slow down your vehicle safely.

In some instances, shifting into a lower gear, if available, or applying the emergency brake (in short bursts instead of just one motion if possible), can help slow the vehicle down. You can also try downshifting, letting slightly (but not completely) off the gas, and pumping the brake pedal until the car stops safely.

Try to minimize any sudden movements to keep your car under control. It is best to slow down gradually if possible, because otherwise you risk spinning out of control. Also, be prepared to shift into neutral or turn off the engine if necessary. Once you are at a standstill and able to exit your vehicle safely, call emergency services immediately.

What if Your Brakes Failed Due to Mechanical Failure or Improper Installation?

While brake failure can happen due to driver error, most notably poor maintenance habits, in many cases brakes fail while people are driving because of a product defect or installation error. When that happens, accident victims and their families may have the option to file a personal injury claim against the manufacturer or mechanic at fault for their brake failure accident and injuries.

At Katz, Kantor, Stonestreet & Buckner, PLLC, our team of car accident lawyers has been there for injury victims and their families in West Virginia for nearly a century. We understand what it takes to hold negligent auto parts manufacturers and mechanics accountable for causing traffic accidents involving brake failure. Our law firm has a long history of securing justice for our clients and their families. Check out our clients’ reviews and case results to learn more.

Call us at (304) 713-2014 or get in touch with us online today to schedule a free consultation with our experienced personal injury lawyers.