If Your Brakes Suddenly Give Out, What Should You Do?

Updated October, 2020
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The first thing to remember is to stay calm. Downshift the transmission, and pump your brakes to try to build up brake fluid. Last, use your parking brake to slow your speed and bring yourself to a stop. Malfunctioning or broken brakes are a serious issue for obvious reasons. Don't hesitate to seek a repair shop.

Can brakes suddenly give out?

Yes, it's possible that your brakes can give out due to normal wear and tear over time. This happens when there's a buildup of heat or brake fluid on your tires. It's scary, but it's essential to remain calm while directing your vehicle to safety.

Be prepared—here's what you need to do to stay safe

If your brakes suddenly fail, follow these steps to guide yourself to safety:

  1. Downshift your transmission.
  1. Try to build up brake fluid by pumping your brake with your foot quickly and with force.
  1. Use your parking brake instead of your regular brakes. However, be prepared to promptly release the parking brake if your car is going too fast and attempts to skid.

Signs your brakes need fixing

While your brakes may fail suddenly, there are usually signs that your brakes need to be fixed.

  • If you notice your brake light is on, don't ignore it. It's installed as a warning for a reason.
  • If you notice liquid leaking from your car and pooling up underneath it, this is a sign that something could be wrong with your brakes or radiator.
  • If your brake pedal feels spongy or soft, this is a sign that your brake pedal could be loose.
  • If you're experiencing a bouncing up and down feeling when you stop short, this is a sign of a moderate to severe issue with your brakes.
  • If you feel wobbling, vibrating, or scraping when you try to brake, this isn't a good sign.
  • If you feel your car drifting to one side or the other when trying to brake, you should get it checked out.
  • Unusual noises like squealing, squeaking, or grinding is a big sign that something isn't right.
  • If you ever smell burning coming from your vehicle, get out of your vehicle immediately.

What's the cost of repairing brakes?

The exact cost of having your brakes repaired depends on your car's make and model, what state you live in, the labor rates for your mechanic, and the severity of the damage. On average, expect to spend roughly $200-$300.

While a pricey fix, you risk severe damage to your vehicle which costs you more in the long-run. Not to mention, it's incredibly unsafe to drive with malfunctioning brakes.

Does my insurance pay for maintenance and repairs?

Most insurers won't pay for regular repairs and maintenance; however, some policies include roadside assistance. If you're vehicle breaks down, you'll be towed to a mechanic for repairs.

It's important to have comprehensive and collision insurance. While normal repairs aren't covered, damage or repairs in the case of an accident or weather-related event IS covered.

When the time arises, is my insurance going to be enough?

When it comes to car insurance, there are several factors to consider beyond monthly cost. A policy that covers you when you need it, has a low deductible, and offers several discounts can be hard to find - which is why we've done the work for you.

Get instant quotes tailored to your needs - fill out our short form, today!

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