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Mr Bola was almost late for work, he just hurriedly took his bath, dressed up and ran out the door into his car. There was no time to even check time; the car should be in good condition, at least I took it out yesterday… so he thought. So he just turned the key and drove off.

I must not be late was his inspiration as he floored his accelerator pedal every chance he had until a traffic light turned red, and a beautiful Mercedes Benz G63 in his front pulled to an abrupt stop. Well, let’s stop too… only to press the brake, and the pedal just went down without any restriction, the car was already enjoying the speed so much it refused to stop, the brakes had failed🙆‍♂️🙆‍♂️, the next thing Mr Bola heard was Gbam!!! Pe ke ke ke!!!🙆‍♂️🙆‍♂️… All was still fine until a man uniformed in a green and brown attire stepped down from behind the wheels of the Benz😥😥…

Your brakes are one of the most important things in your car. It’s the major life saver. And just like the comely parts of our body, the brakes need a lot of attention and maintenance.

Today on Drive-Right, we will be discussing “What to do when your brakes fail”.

Brake Maintenance

Maintaining your brakes
Maintaining your brakes

This post is a continuation from the last post (Brakes: How It Works!), so do well to check it out.


  • You notice increased stopping distance or time
  • Your brakes grind: Grinding brakes make noises, sometimes described as loud rubbing
  • Pulling to one side or the other when you press the brake, this is known as brake “grabbing”
  • Brake pedal that is soft, or goes all the way – or nearly – to the floorboard of the car
  • Throbbing or pulsing in the brake pedal when stopping
  • Antilock brake system (ABS) warning light flashes repeatedly or stays on. If you have anti-lock brakes, you should practice sudden stops on both dry and wet pavement in a safe off street situation. When using anti-lock brakes the rule of thumb is to press the pedal all the way to the floor. You will feel a strong vibration in the pedal which is a sign that the ABS is working properly.


For your brakes to fail, it means one of more parts of the brakes developed a fault. The most likely problems that can occur with individual parts are:

Master Cylinder and Brake Lines

As said in the last post, your brakes (hydraulic brakes) work with fluid pressure, your master cylinder is the source of pressure, so inspect the brake lines and master cylinder for any forms of leaks.

The leaks occur when the oil seals fail in the cylinder due to wear and tear, or when there’s a cut or rust in the brake lines.

The reason is because if there are any, the brake fluid will leak ouk and air will replace it and if air enters, that’s a problem  because  air is compressible while fluids are not, the pressure in the system won’t be enough to stop your car, inevitably, brake failure.

Brake Fluid

Make sure the fluid is clean. If its dirty, it can clog the system and prevent free flow. This too can cause brake failure.


Check with scrutiny for tear, or failure of rubber valves on the inside of the calipers also.

Rust is their major enemy. It causes them to become stiff (when a vehicle has been parked for long)  hence they won’t be able to press on the brake pads well. That’s why we paint the calipers.

Rotors and Pads

When the calipers squeeze, the brake pads clamp down on the rotors in order to slow your car.

If your brake pads are worn, they can’t make a smooth connection with the rotors and this can actually damage your rotors with rough spots and uneven grooves.

Rotor repairs can be very costly, so, always make sure your brake pads are sized to specifications and that they’re not worn down too far.

Today, most brake pads come with wear indicators that will make a squealing sound to let you know it’s time for replacement.

It’s best to replace them before you hear a squeal and check your brake rotors often to be sure that there is no irregular wear or damage.

Brake Maintenance Cost Considerations

Nigerianly, permit me to say, maintaining your brakes is relatively cheap if you do not allow it to degenerate into severely damaging the rotor. A typical brake service charge costs about 7000 naira give or take. Not enough to risk your life for.

Proper maintenance of your brakes restores your confidence while driving and helps you concentrate on driving safe not on stopping every time you reach cruise speed.

Remember to find a qualified automotive technician and use parts specifically designed to fit your vehicle’s braking system.


As much as you have tried your best to maintain your brakes to prevent situations like this, life can still decide to be funny and create an amazing situation for you to deal with. That’s why we are here to arm you with the knowledge to tackle anything that happens as regards your brakes.


  • DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT turn off your engine as you’ll lose your power steering and the ability to pump your brakes to attain pressure needed for regaining control.
  • Also, I want you to know that no matter how expensive your car is, do not prioritize it over your life or that of any other person. Avoid hitting people.
  • Lastly, don’t think of death, you’re not going to die.


If your brakes fail, you want to do some things:

  • Downshift to a lower gear.

If you’re driving a manual car, and you’re on let’s say the fourth gear, downshift to the third gear (don’t accelerate oh), downshift again to second, and then first gear. It will slow down the car considerably.

For an automatic, go from Drive to 2, then 1 or L as the case may be: without accelerating. If it’s the ones with D and “+” or “-“ options, keep slapping the gear into ”– “, until the car selects the first gear, slowing down considerably. Click here for more information.

  • Pump the brake pedal fast and hard to build up brake fluid pressure, if the brakes haven’t started working after three or four pumps go on the step three.
  • Use the parking brake or hand brake. Gradually apply the parking brake and be prepared for the car to skid. Hold your steering steady as the car comes to a gradual stop.
  •  Steer in a safe direction (look for a hill) until the car completely rolls to a stop. Don’t turn the steering wheel too much but just enough to avoid obstacles.
  • If you’re at highway speeds it may be advisable to scrape your car against the guard rail or divider using the friction to slow the car down. If you do this, come in at a shallow angle and gently rub the car against it.

Note: In order to warn other drivers that your brakes are out you can honk your horn and flash your lights.

As soon as your car stops, DO NOT drive away from there. Park it and get a mechanic. Don’t ever drive without good brakes

Drive safe, Drive Right, Know Your Motor!!!

P.S: This post is not to encourage unskilled maintenance of your vehicle.



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