Emergency Stopping Tips

The purpose of brakes is to inhibit the motion of the car. However, there are times when a motor vehicle’s brakes will fail, causing the driver to lose control of the car.

That’s why auto manufacturers have included emergency brakes in passenger vehicles.

A vehicle’s service brakes (the normal brakes) are pressurized by the engine. When the pressure is no longer there the driver will have a hard time getting the vehicle to stop when pressing the brake pedal.  Unlike the service brakes, the emergency brake is cable activated. By the emergency brakes being cable activated, there is less of a chance for failure.

Causes of Brake Failure

One of the scariest experiences that a driver can face is brake failure. Unfortunately, faulty brakes are contributing factor in thousands of motor vehicle accidents every year. Listed below are some common causes of brake failure:

  • Lack of Fluid - The brake fluid need to be checked every time you change your oil. The lack of brake fluid in your vehicle can result in brake failure.
  • Engine Failure - When a vehicle’s engine dies, it may also cause the brakes to go out. In these situations, it is best to use the emergency brake.
  • Frayed Cables - If a car’s brake cables are broken or frayed, the brake fluid can leak before it reaches the brakes. You should have your brake cables inspected on regular basis.

If you find yourself in a situation where your brakes are no longer working, you can activate your emergency brakes to gain control of your vehicle.

Types of Emergency Brakes

There are three different types of emergency brake handles that auto manufacturers use. It is crucial that drivers know how to properly use them for emergency stopping. Listed below are the common types of brake handles and how to use them:


The handbrake is lever that is usually located between the driver and passenger. In order to use the handbrake, press the release button and pull up the handle. This should activate the rear brakes, allowing the car to stop. However, the handbrake will not stop a car as quickly as your service brakes.


Typically, the footbrake is found on the left side of the floorboard. To activate the brake, pull the handle and press on the pedal smoothly.

Pull Brake

Pull brakes are not as common as the handbrake or the footbrake. These brakes are located on the right side of the steering wheel. For emergency stopping, you need to twist the handle and pull it gently.

Drivers should only use the emergency brakes if the service brakes have failed. Using these brakes in non-emergency situations can damage the brake system.