12 2022

Don’t Panic: What to Do If Your Brakes Fail

by admin

Brake failure. It’s something you’ve probably never given much thought to before now. Suddenly being unable to slow down might sound terrifying, but a cool head and quick thinking can help prevent a dangerous situation from becoming a disaster. 

Here’s what to do (and what not to do) if you ever encounter brake failure while on the road and information on what you can expect from your Surrey auto insurance coverage. 


  • Panic 
  • Turn Your Car Off
  • Pull the Emergency Brake 

Panicking is the worst thing you can do in an emergency; you need to keep a clear head to help ensure your safety and the safety of others around you. So instead of getting flustered, remind yourself to remain calm and start thinking about what to do next. 

You should avoid the temptation to turn your car off, pull the emergency brake, or shift from high gear into first quickly. Any of these actions could cause your vehicle to skid out. Additionally, when your car isn’t running, you lose your power steering, and your steering wheel may lock, giving you less control over your vehicle. 


  • Keep Pumping the Brakes 
  • Turn on Your Hazard Lights
  • Slowly Engage Your Emergency Brake 
  • Shift to Lower Gears 
  • Make Sure You Are Heard 
  • Look for a Safe Spot to Steer

There are several reasons brake might fail, and one of those reasons is insufficient or leaking brake fluid. By continuing to pump your brakes hard and fast, sufficient brake fluid may build up to reengage your brakes. Braking will also turn on your brake lights and signal other drivers that you are trying to slow down. If you have time, turn your hazards on. 

You should never rapidly pull or press on your parking (emergency) brake, but if your brakes fail, you can try gradually applying your parking brake to help slow yourself down. If this still doesn’t stop your car, you can try slowly shifting to a lower gear, one gear at a time.  

If you are approaching a busy area, make noise by honking your horn to warn other drivers and pedestrians that you are coming. 

While this is happening, you should also be looking for somewhere to steer yourself to safety. Avoiding damage is your second priority; more important is avoiding injury, either to yourself or to others. Shoulders, grassy areas, open fields, and bushes are good places to aim for that can help soften your landing. When it comes to driving onto someone’s property or running a red light, potential property damage is always preferable to the possibility of causing a serious accident. 

Once your vehicle has stopped moving, put the car into park and turn the engine off. If anyone is injured or there is significant damage to your vehicle or surrounding property, call 911. If there are no injuries and no consequential damages, call a tow truck. Do not attempt to drive the car. 

Preventing Brake Failure 

Brake failure is rare, and in most cases, can be avoided altogether. Make sure you stick to your vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule, and if something ever feels “off” with your braking system, like a screeching or grinding noise, or very slow braking, have it looked at right away. 

Brake Failure and Surrey Auto Insurance Coverage 

Now that you’ve caught up on what to do if your brakes fail, you may be wondering if you are covered for this type of incident. Fortunately, your Surrey auto insurance will provide protection if your brakes fail and there are damages as a result. Third-party liability coverage will protect people and property, so you don’t have to worry about damages. Your vehicle will also be covered if you have opted for collision coverage (not included on mandatory ICBC auto insurance). If you don’t have collision coverage, you may be responsible for damage to your vehicle. 

Auto insurance will typically not cover the cost of repairing brakes, as vehicle maintenance is the owner’s responsibility.

The exact coverage will vary based on several factors, and the best person to speak to regarding your coverage is your Surrey auto insurance provider.