Heading out on the open road gives you a great deal of freedom but also opens you up to several potential dangers. No matter how impressive your driving skills are, you’re still susceptible to hazards associated with vehicle failure. Your car’s brakes are one of the most critical systems on your vehicle, ensuring your safety when they’re working and creating risks when they’re not. 

Ensure you know what to do during a brake failure and in the aftermath. Reliable car coverage from American Auto Insurance provides the protection you need at an affordable price. We even offer SR22 coverage to keep you compliant with any legal restrictions on your license. Keep reading as we explain the steps to follow if your car’s brakes fail while driving on Illinois roads and why you can count on American Auto Insurance to help. CALL NOW!

Continue Applying Pressure to the Brakes

A streetlight in front of a large skyscraper in Illinois.

Most modern vehicles have a dual braking system, with the hydraulic brake system divided between the front and rear wheels. If the circuit for one system fails, the other should still engage. Though your car’s brakes won’t feel as responsive as usual, they may still have some functionality.

If your vehicle’s brakes don’t respond, try pumping them with firm pressure. This pumping action should engage the secondary braking system if the first one has failed. Next, apply heavy, consistent pressure to get as much braking power from the remaining system, which may help slow the vehicle. If you’re driving a car with a manual transmission, gradually downshift. If you’re in an automatic vehicle, keep your foot off the gas pedal so the car will automatically downshift for you.

Turn on the Hazard Lights

Turn on the hazard lights as soon as you notice something is wrong to alert other drivers that your car isn’t functioning as it should. Dealing with a failing brake system can be extremely stressful, so if you forget to turn on the hazard lights immediately, do so as soon as possible.

Use the Emergency Brake

The emergency brake is a mechanical system that locks your vehicle’s wheels in place. The emergency brake bypasses the hydraulic system that has presumably failed in this instance and applies pressure directly to the brakes. Stay calm and apply the emergency brake slowly. Slamming the brakes can cause your vehicle to fishtail. If you apply the emergency brake slowly and steadily, you should still maintain control of your car as you gradually come to a stop.

Pull Off the Road

If you can’t stop your vehicle, try getting off busy streets. Using the tactics above, you should be able to guide your car to a gradual halt. Steering into a parking lot is ideal. If that’s impossible, pulling off onto the shoulder is better than stopping in the middle of the road or intersection. If the brakes go out while you’re on a busy highway, get your vehicle onto the shoulder and follow the above steps to slow to a stop. 

If there’s a barrier in front of you, you may need to steer into the guard rails slightly. The side of your vehicle pressing against the rails can help slow your car to a stop before you collide with the obstacle in front of you. Though this is a last resort, it’s better to damage the side of your vehicle and protect the passengers inside than to suffer a head-on collision.

Keep the Vehicle Running Until Stopped

Turning off the vehicle may seem wise in a moment of panic, but it will only worsen the problem. Though your car’s brakes aren’t working, it may still have other operational systems, such as power steering. If you turn it off entirely, you won’t be able to steer or stop, which is far worse. Keep your vehicle on until you’ve come to a complete stop.

How To Prevent Brake Failure

Proper care and maintenance can help prevent brake failure. Maintenance tasks include the following:

  • Immediately address brake warning lights on the dashboard.
  • Schedule brake maintenance every 18,000 miles.
  • Follow your mechanic’s recommendations for replacing the brake pads and rotors.
  • Check the brake fluid with every oil change and top it off as needed.
  • Change the brake fluid every four or five years.

How To Handle the Aftermath of Brake Failure

Brake failure is one of the most alarming and potentially dangerous situations you can face on the road. The 2018 National Motor Crash Causation Survey revealed that almost 22% of crashes related to a vehicle defect were because of defective brakes. Fortunately, just 1% of these accidents resulted in a fatality, and only 3% had an incapacitating injury. A whopping 80% of brake-related crashes saw no injuries whatsoever. 

Knowing how to handle brake failure properly can help you keep yourself and your passengers safe. The same is rarely true of your vehicle. At a minimum, you’ll need to address the root cause of your car’s brake failure. If you had to engage the emergency brake to stop your vehicle, you’ll likely need to repair it following the incident. Other damage often occurs because of brake failure. 

Your car may have a damaged bumper or vehicle body from colliding with another vehicle or object when you couldn’t stop. If you suffer from unexpected brake failure, your car insurance will often cover the cost of repairs or medical expenses associated with the accident, depending on your coverage.

Set Up a Solid Insurance Policy

Ensure you have adequate car insurance to cover your repair and medical bills if you’re in an accident because of brake failure. American Auto Insurance offers a wide variety of coverage options. We’ll walk you through every step of the process and help you find the perfect plan for your lifestyle. Contact us now to get started.

selective color photo of street light by Scott Warman is licensed with Unsplash License


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