How To Stop a Car with No Brakes

How To Stop a Car with No Brakes

Imagine you’re driving when suddenly your brake pedal becomes unresponsive – a nightmare scenario known as brake failure.

Begin by activating your hazard lights to alert other drivers while appropriately downshifting to reduce speed. Next, utilize the technique of pumping your brakes to create friction and slow down the vehicle. If these measures prove ineffective, resort to the emergency brake as a last option.

I’m here today to share with you my personal experience and a comprehensive guide on how I managed to stop my car when the brakes failed. It was an unfortunate situation, but staying calm and following the right steps allowed me to bring the car to a complete stop safely and effectively. Let’s dive right in!

Why do Brakes Fail Suddenly?

Brake failed car in a forest

Here are the reasons for sudden brake failure in a car.

Overheating Brake PadsExcessive use can lead to overheating, causing the pads to become hard or brittle and reducing their effectiveness.
Damaged Rotor DisksScored or damaged rotor disks can decrease the lifespan of brake pads and make stopping more difficult.
Leaking Hydraulic FluidOil or hydraulic fluid leaks can contaminate the brake system and affect braking performance.
Driving Through Mud/WaterMud or water can temporarily reduce friction between brake pads and rotor disks, affecting stopping ability.
Loss of Fluid PressureLoss of hydraulic brake fluid pressure reduces the ability to stop quickly and requires attention from a specialist.
Overloading Your AutomobileOverloading the vehicle can impact its braking ability and potentially damage the braking system.

How Do Car Brakes Work?

Modern disc brake systems are designed to utilize friction to slow and stop vehicles. The key elements involved in this process are the disc rotor, brake pads, and caliper.

Force Used in Brakes

When the brake pedal is pressed, it generates hydraulic pressure through the master cylinder. This pressure is then transmitted via the brake lines to the caliper. Within the caliper, the hydraulic pressure forces the pistons to move.

The Task of the Brake Caliper

Brake pads are located inside the caliper. They are pressed against the disc rotor. This action generates friction between the pads and the rotor, resulting in the deceleration of both the wheel and the vehicle.

The brake Rotor Receives the Pressure

The disc rotor, a flat and circular metal component, is securely attached to the wheel. As the brake pads apply pressure to the rotor, the ensuing friction gradually reduces the rotation of the rotor, eventually bringing the vehicle to a complete stop.

How Do I Stop My Car with No Brakes?

This is how I stopped my car in that brake failure without any accident.

Step 1: Staying Calm and Composed

When I pushed the brakes and realized they weren’t working, panic initially surged through me. However, I knew that staying calm was crucial for my safety. I took a deep breath, reminding myself to keep a clear head and recall the steps I had learned.

Step 2: Activating the Hazards

First, I quickly activated the hazard lights. So other drivers can know I am facing difficulty. This prompted them to give me extra space, which was crucial for safely navigating the situation with no brakes.

Step 3: Downshifting to Reduce Speed

Gear of a car

My car is a manual. So, I downshift to slow down. I pushed the clutch, shifted to a lower gear, and released the clutch gradually. This method allowed me to control the car’s speed by leveraging the engine’s resistance against acceleration.

Step 4: Pumping the Brakes

Although my brakes weren’t working, I decided to try pumping the brake pedal. With hope in my heart, I pumped the brake pedal rapidly. Surprisingly, after a few pumps, the brakes started responding slightly. It provided me some relief. Though it wasn’t a complete fix, pumping the brakes helped slow down the car.

Step 5: Utilizing the Emergency Brake

I knew that applying the emergency brake incorrectly could lead to skidding or losing control. So, I proceeded with caution. I slowly raised the lever holding the emergency brake button. By doing it gradually, I mimicked the behavior of regular brakes. This allowed for a smoother and more controlled stop. As the car neared a complete stop, I kept the lever raised to maintain the stopped position.

Note: Throughout this entire process, I made sure not to turn off the car’s engine. Having the engine running ensured that I maintained power steering, which was vital for maneuvering the vehicle safely.


What is the main cause of brake failure?

The leading cause of brake failure is often attributed to a depletion of braking fluid. This essential fluid plays a crucial role in transmitting the force exerted on the brake pedal to the brake disks, effectively decelerating and bringing your car’s wheels to a halt. Identifying a leakage is usually feasible as it tends to manifest as visible traces beneath your vehicle, enabling proactive detection prior to embarking on a journey.

What happens when the brakes fail?

When the available brake fluid falls below the required level to effectively transfer pressure from the pedal to the tires, the fluid will gradually dissipate. Additionally, brake failure can occur when the brake discs or drums deteriorate over time, resulting in inadequate friction to bring the wheels to a halt.

Do the front brakes provide the majority of stopping power?

Most of the braking force and heat generated by friction are handled by the front brakes. Although they apply less force to stop the vehicle, the rear brakes maintain stability to avoid rollovers and spin-outs.

What time should I begin braking?

You may effortlessly depress the pedal with the right estimation. Make it a habit to begin braking early to provide smooth braking. Therefore, it would be beneficial if you mentally calculated the distance to the location where you want to stop entirely and began to stop early enough.


This is how to stop a car with no brakes. Once you have successfully brought the car to a complete stop, it is imperative to arrange for professional assistance to address the brake issue promptly. Drive safely!

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