1. Immediately downshift
The first thing you need to do when your brakes fail is to put the car in a lower gear. This allows the engine to slow the car, and may also give you enough time to safely pull over. Whether you’re driving an automatic or a manual, try to gradually downshift smoothly through the gears. If you downshift too quickly, you risk skidding off. Don’t shut off the car to stop it, you will lose your power steering, and do not put the car in neutral as this will make you lose the engine’s braking effect.
2. Try using the emergency brake, but do not depend on it to stop the car
If your car has a strong emergency brake, you can go ahead and use it. In cars with manual transmissions, the emergency brake is mostly operated via a hand-activated lever which is located behind the shifter, while in most automatics, a small pedal located on the far left of the driver is used. This helps to test your emergency brake at slow speeds in order to see how much stopping power it really has.
3. Move your vehicle into the right lane as soon as you can
Move toward the right shoulder of the road, or, if possible, toward an exit. If you find it necessary to change lanes, go ahead smoothly and carefully, but watch your mirrors and the traffic around you very closely.
4. Stay off the gas pedal
This should go without saying, but do not touch the gas pedal as your goal is to slow down, pull over and then safely stop.
5. Check for brake pedal blockage
Stuff like soda cans/bottles, coffee cups, rolls of paper towels, even the floor mat can wedge behind the brake pedal which prevents its use. You have to make sure the pedal’s path is clear; if not, kick the obstruction out of the way.
6. Pump your brakes only if you have an older car without anti-lock brakes (ABS)
If your car has got a standard brakes they may respond to pumping, which could build up enough hydraulic pressure to allow them to work again. But lots of newer cars with ABS will do the pumping for you, so it is advisable you firmly press the brake pedal even if the brakes are not working. The brake failure may be a temporary one and if they suddenly start working again, your foot will be where it needs to be.
7. Turn the harzard light on to Alert others
Turn your hazards on and honk your horn till it stopped so other motorists will be aware and give you lots of room.
8. Aim for something “soft” If you must hit something,
A wooden fence is better than a tree, for example — and anything is preferable to hitting a human being.
9. Once you’re safely stopped, summon help
Ones the car stops, don’t be tempted to drive the car immediate, even if the brakes suddenly start working. Get the car towed to a repair shop or dealer for inspection and repair.