What to Do If Brakes Lock – Defensive Driving
The introduction of ABS systems saw the elimination of many commonplace issues experienced by drivers who made use of less modern, technologically developed braking systems. In the same light, ABS introduced some hidden flaws previously not experienced before its advent.
Locking brakes are more common than you may think; we discuss the causes and remedies below:
Why Do Car Brakes Lock?
Identifying any brake problems is of the utmost importance. When brakes lock up, the vehicle may veer sharply to the left or right, and the back end may fishtail causing the driver to lose control. If this happens while you’re driving, pump the brakes consistently until you come to a complete stop, and get the car to a mechanic as soon as possible.
Anti-lock brakes usually don’t lock up unless there’s a brake problem. Some of the brake issues that can cause ABS brakes to lock up include bad brake pads, callipers on disc brakes, and cylinders on drum brakes or wheel bearings.
In an ABS-equipped vehicle, you’ll feel a pulsating in the brake pedal during hard stops, or if the vehicle loses traction. This is perfectly normal, as the brake system is pumping the brakes for you, freeing up any locked wheel and leaving you in control of the vehicle. There’s nothing wrong with the pulsating brakes. Don’t release them because the car is doing the work for you.
How Do I Brake if My Wheels Lock Up?
This definitely warrants an emergency situation, but following these three steps as calmly as possible should allow you to safely negate any serious consequences:
- Immediately see if it is possible for you to pull off the road and away from pedestrians, other vehicles and dangerous buildings / areas.
- Immediately attempt to slow your vehicle with gears; gearing down and slowly releasing the clutch will definitely reduce your overall speed, but this alone may not be enough so successfully and safely stop you, especially if you are travelling at a higher speed or need to slow down in a shorter space of time to avoid accident or injury.
- Pump your brakes; the may be locked, but the small pulsating effect may allow for further speed reduction in the small area of movement it is still equipped with.
Get your car to a mechanic immediately – have it towed where possible to avoid any further damage to the locked wheel.