What to Do if Brakes Fail in Automatic Car?

Just imagine, you are driving an automatic car and suddenly it’s brakes stops working. The panic mode has activated. Now in this panic situation you must be thinking what to do to control your car?

In this blog, I will familiarize you with the steps you should take, when you come across the unfortunate situation of brakes failure in your car.

Let’s uncover the big question first i.e “How to stop your car in case of a brake failure?”.

What to Do if Brakes Fail in Automatic Car?

When the brakes on an automatic car fail, the driver must act quickly while remaining calm. The following are the measures to take:

Stay Cool and Calm

The first step is to remain calm and avoid panicking. Losing your cool can worsen the situation. A clear head will help you to safely stop the car.

Inform Other Drivers

Use the horn, turn on the warning or hazard lights, and any other measures available to warn other road users of the emergency.

Pump the Brake Pedal

Keep pumping the brake pedal to see if either the front or rear brakes still function.

Change Gears

When shifting to a lower gear in an automatic vehicle, the transmission system can act as a brake. Downshifting can help in slowing the car, and the engine can act as a brake. If you’re driving an automatic, you can also use the paddle shifters to shift to lower gears.

Apply the Emergency Brake

A supplementary braking system is the emergency brake, sometimes known as the parking brake or hand brake. To stop the vehicle, pull the emergency brake lever or press the emergency brake pedal.

Get Off The Road

Once you’ve slowed down the car, safely steer it to the side of the road. Use turn signals to indicate that you’re getting off the road, and switch the car to neutral. If necessary, use the parking brake to slow down the car, but make sure it’s moving at a slow speed. Turn on the hazard lights, headlights, and horn to alert other drivers.

Find a Secure Location to Stop

Drive to a safe location, such as the side of the road or an empty parking lot, and try to come to a complete stop.

Don’t Shut Down The Engine

Don’t turn off the engine until the car has come to a complete stop. Turning off the engine will result in losing engine braking and power steering, and the steering wheel may lock.

Request Assistance

Once the car has stopped, call for assistance, such as a tow truck or a mechanic, to repair the brake system.

Inspect The Brakes

Have an expert mechanic inspect your brakes and perform necessary repairs before driving your vehicle again. Even if your brakes seem to work fine after a brake failure, it’s still crucial to have them checked before getting back on the road.

After exploring the actions to be taken for stopping your car in the case of brakes fail, you might be interested in the working mechanism of car brakes. So let’s discuss how does automatic car’s brakes work?

How Does Automatic Car’s Brakes Work?

Braking System in an Automatic Car

The brakes in an automatic car work similarly to those in a manual car. However, the braking system in an automatic car may have some differences. When you press down on the brake pedal, it activates a hydraulic system that sends brake fluid to each of the wheels. This fluid creates pressure that pushes brake pads against the brake rotors, which slows down or stops the wheels from turning.

Brake Control in an Automatic Car

In an automatic car, the brakes are typically controlled by a computer system. This means that when you press down on the brake pedal, sensors detect how hard you are pressing and send a signal to the car’s computer.

The computer then calculates the amount of pressure needed to apply the brakes and sends a signal to the hydraulic system to do so. This process happens almost instantly and is much faster than the reaction time of a human driver.

Anti-lock Brakes (ABS)

Some automatic cars may also have additional features such as anti-lock brakes (ABS). ABS is a safety feature that prevents the wheels from locking up during sudden stops or when driving on slippery roads. ABS works by sensing when a wheel is about to lock up and then releasing and reapplying the brakes multiple times per second to maintain traction and control. This prevents skidding and helps the driver maintain control of the vehicle.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Another safety feature that some automatic cars may have is electronic stability control (ESC). This feature uses sensors to detect when the car is losing control and then automatically applies the brakes to individual wheels to help keep the car stable and prevent skidding or spinning out. ESC is particularly useful in emergency situations, such as when the car is swerving to avoid an obstacle or when driving on slippery or uneven roads.

Now that you have some knowledge about the how the car brakes function, you will also be interested in knowing the possible causes of automatic car brakes failure.

Causes of Brakes Failure of Automatic Car

The brakes are one of the most important safety features of any car, and brake failure can be a very dangerous situation. In an automatic car, there are several possible causes of brake failure, which we will discuss in detail below.

Hydraulic System Failure

The hydraulic system in an automatic car is responsible for transmitting the force applied to the brake pedal to the brake calipers, which clamp the brake pads onto the rotors to slow down or stop the car. If there is a leak in the hydraulic system, or if the brake fluid level is too low, the system may fail, resulting in a loss of braking power. In addition, if the brake lines are damaged or corroded, this can also cause the hydraulic system to fail.

Brake Pad or Rotor Wear

Over time, the brake pads and rotors in an automatic car can become worn and brakes become squeaky and need to be replaced. If the brake pads become too thin, they may not be able to provide enough friction to slow down or stop the car, while a worn rotor can lead to a loss of braking power or even cause the brakes to overheat and fail.

Malfunctioning Brake Calipers

The brake calipers in an automatic car are responsible for squeezing the brake pads onto the rotors to slow down or stop the car. If a brake caliper is malfunctioning, it may not be able to apply enough pressure to the brake pads, resulting in a loss of braking power.

Electronic System Failure

In an automatic car, the brake system is often controlled by an electronic system. If this system fails, it can lead to a loss of braking power or cause the brakes to lock up. Additionally, if the sensors that detect brake pedal pressure or wheel speed fail, the electronic system may not be able to apply the brakes correctly.

Overheating Brakes

If the brakes in an automatic car are used excessively or if the car is driven in mountainous terrain, the brakes can become overheated, which can cause the brake fluid to boil and the brakes to fail.

Improper Maintenance

Regular maintenance is essential to ensure that the brakes in an automatic car are working correctly. Failure to replace worn brake pads or to flush the brake fluid periodically can lead to a loss of braking power.

How to Prevent Brakes Fail in Automatic Car?

Brake failure is a serious issue that can lead to accidents and injuries. However, there are several steps you can take to prevent brake failure in an automatic car. We will discuss these in detail below.

  1. Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is essential to ensure that the brakes in an automatic car are working correctly. This includes regularly replacing worn brake pads and rotors, flushing the brake fluid periodically, and checking the brake lines for damage or corrosion. A trained mechanic should perform these tasks, and any issues should be addressed promptly.

  1. Pay Attention to Warning Signs

If you notice any warning signs of brake problems, such as squeaking or grinding noises when you apply the brakes, a spongy or soft brake pedal, or a vibrating steering wheel when braking, have your brakes inspected immediately. These issues may indicate worn brake pads, a leaking hydraulic system, or other problems that can lead to brake failure.

  1. Drive Responsibly

Driving responsibly can help prevent brake failure in an automatic car. This includes avoiding sudden stops and hard braking whenever possible, as these actions can put excessive strain on the brakes and cause them to overheat. Additionally, avoid driving in mountainous terrain for extended periods, as this can also cause the brakes to overheat.

  1. Use the Right Braking Technique

Using the correct braking technique can also help prevent brake failure in an automatic car. When braking, apply steady pressure to the brake pedal rather than pumping it repeatedly. Pumping the brake pedal can cause the brakes to overheat and fail, especially in mountainous terrain.

  1. Check Your Brakes Before Driving

Before driving your automatic car, take a few minutes to check your brakes. This includes visually inspecting the brake pads and rotors for wear, checking the brake fluid level, and ensuring that the brake pedal feels firm and responsive.

  1. Upgrade to High-Performance Brakes

If you frequently drive in mountainous terrain or engage in high-performance driving, consider upgrading to high-performance brakes. These brakes are designed to handle higher temperatures and provide better stopping power, which can help prevent brake failure.


Brake failure is a terrifying situation for any driver, but remaining calm and taking appropriate measures can save lives. In an automatic car, downshifting gears, using the emergency brake, and looking for a safe place to stop can help bring the car to a halt. Regular maintenance and following preventive measures can reduce the risk of brake failure.

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