What to do if your brakes stop working

Nothing can be scarier as a driver than hitting the brakes and realizing they’re not working.

While this is a situation that you’ll hopefully never have to face, it’s important that you know how to handle such a scenario before it happens.

Read ahead for some tips on what to do if your brakes suddenly give out on you:

Remain calm

While it may be completely natural to panic after discovering your brakes aren’t working, it really is important not to overreact.

Keep your hands on the steering wheel and take your foot off the gas. Don’t make any sudden movements, as this could increase the risk of an accident.

Don’t turn your car off

Turning off your car may seem like a smart idea, but it will likely end up hindering you instead of helping you.

Shutting off your car means that your power steering will also shut down, impeding your ability to turn.

Assess quickly

It’s important to assess your surrounding area as quickly as possible. Look to see where the other vehicles around you are situated and if there’s somewhere off the road you can safely get to.

Try again

Don’t assume your brakes are completely useless. Apply consistent pressure to the brakes to see if you can at least slow your vehicle down. If not, it’s time to try the emergency brake.

Emergency brake

If your regular brakes aren’t working, your emergency brake is another option. Remember to apply the e-brake slowly, as your car could spin out of control it it’s applied too quickly.

It should be noted that this method is significantly slower than using your regular brakes.


Another way to slow down is to downshift to a lower gear to allow the engine to brake for you.

Just like with the e-brake, you’ll have to be slower and more methodical, as downshifting too quickly could cause you to skid, which is obviously the opposite of what you want.

Warn other drivers

It’s important to let other drivers know you’re having difficulty stopping. Put your hazard lights on and begin honking to get their attention.

Use your surroundings

If all else fails, you should try to make use of your surroundings to stop the vehicle. This could mean driving on a curb or a gravel road.

Get help

Once you’re safely out of harm’s way, you should call for help immediately. If you don’t have roadside assistance, you can always call a tow truck.

This should obviously go without saying, but you should not try to get back on the road even if you’re very close to home. Driving with faulty brakes is extremely unsafe.

Even if your brakes appear to be working normally, you should still have them checked out by a professional before using them again.