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Experiencing a brake failure while driving can be a daunting situation, but panicking is the last thing you should do. With modern vehicle systems reducing the chances of this occurrence, it’s still essential to know how to handle it calmly and effectively. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps to take if you find yourself in a brake failure scenario, ensuring your safety and that of others on the road.

What to do When a car Brake fails while driving?

When faced with brake failure, maintaining composure is crucial. Panicking can impair your judgment and lead to undesirable consequences, such as collisions. Instead, follow these steps with a clear mind to regain control over the situation.

1. Pump the Brakes

If you step on the brake pedal and nothing happens, the initial action is to pump the pedal rapidly. This pumping motion can help restore some hydraulic pressure, potentially allowing your brakes to function partially or fully. Keep your foot pumping to increase your chances of success.

2. Avoid the Hand Brake Misconception

Contrary to popular belief, relying solely on the handbrake in this situation is risky, especially when traveling at high speeds. However, if you’re driving at very low speeds, you can gently engage the handbrake to slow down the vehicle. For speeds above 50 km/h, use the handbrake with caution, pulling it up only slightly.

3. Engage Engine Braking with Downshifting

For vehicles equipped with manual transmissions, downshifting can serve as an effective method to slow down the car. Downshifting involves shifting to lower gears sequentially without skipping any. This utilizes the engine’s braking power, aiding in deceleration. Combine this technique with the subsequent use of the handbrake to bring the vehicle to a complete stop.

Important Considerations

While these techniques can help in regaining control over a vehicle with failing brakes, it’s vital to remember a few key points:

Pump Brakes First

Before resorting to handbrakes or downshifting, try pumping the brakes to the maximum extent possible. This might be enough to restore partial braking function.

Regular Brake Maintenance

Regularly inspect and maintain your vehicle’s brakes to minimize the risk of brake failures. Ensuring that your brake system is in good condition is a proactive step toward safety.

Maintain Vehicle Control

Throughout the process of slowing down the vehicle using alternate methods, it’s crucial to keep the vehicle under control. Avoid abrupt maneuvers that could lead to loss of control.


Encountering a brake failure while driving can be a nerve-wracking situation, but staying calm and implementing the right steps can make a significant difference. Remember to pump the brakes, use the handbrake cautiously, and downshift for engine braking when necessary. Regular brake maintenance is essential to prevent such incidents. By adhering to these steps and maintaining control, you can effectively manage brake failures and ensure your safety on the road.

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