We may not think about them very often, but we put a lot of trust in our brakes. Cars are inherently dangerous and our brakes are one of the first lines of defense against accidents. However, like every mechanical system, brakes aren’t perfect.
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Under the best of conditions, brakes have a limited lifespan. Over time, they wear out and stop working. Worse, sometimes brakes are poorly designed or have a manufacturing defect and don’t function properly at all. That’s a scary thing to consider – how big a risk is brake failure?
Why Do Brakes Fail?
The function of your brakes depends on several steps working properly. When you press down on the brake pedal, that pressure is transmitted to your brake lines, which contain brake fluid. The brake fluid transmit that pressure to the brakes themselves. There are two main types of brakes: drum and disc brakes. In both systems, the pressure from the brake lines pushes the disc or drum against the wheel to slow it down by friction. Drum brakes are more complicated and have more parts, but they’re less expensive.
Brakes can fail at any point in that process. The most common cause of failure is a leak in the brake lines. The brake fluid will slowly drain out, until there isn’t enough left to transmit the pressure from the pedal to the tires. The brakes can also fail when the discs or drums wear out, so they can no longer put enough friction on the wheels to stop them. Other mechanical issues within the system may also arise, but are less common.
How Often Do Brakes Fail?
Brake failure is a terrifying idea, but it fortunately doesn’t happen very often. In fact, brake failures only cause about 5% of the car crashes in the US every year. Of course, there are 5.6 million car crashes in America every year, so brake failure accounts for about about 300,000 crashes per year.
Signs Your Brakes Are In Trouble
The good news is that you can often tell that brake trouble is on the horizon. If your brakes are making strange noises, it’s time to go into the shop and have them checked. You may also notice that your brakes feel spongy or the car pulls to one side when you brake. You should also pay attention to how the pedal feels. If it sinks to the floor slowly or if the pedal seems stuck in an unusually low position, that can be a sign of potentially serious problems. You should also keep an eye out for fluid leaking from under your car. Sometimes it’s oil, but sometimes it’s brake fluid and can indicate a loss of pressure in your brake lines.
Brake failure is a serious risk and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. You should take your car into the shop the moment you think you may have a problem with your brakes. This is especially true if your car is older, as it may not have some of the backup safety mechanisms that newer cars have.
What To Do If Your Brakes Fail
If you push the pedal and the brakes don’t kick in, the key is to keep as calm as possible. First, try pumping the brakes as fast as possible; that can generate enough friction to slow or even stop the car as you pull over to the side of the road. If you can’t get the brakes to work at all, you’ll need to start looking for ways to avoid a collision. Honk your horn as a warning and try to steer over to the side of the road and out of traffic. Once you get the car stopped, call for help. You should never try to drive the car if the brakes aren’t working well.
Who’s Liable If The Brakes Fail?
You probably already know that in the case of a car crash, the driver who is at fault (or the insurance of that driver) is legally responsible for for the costs. If a brake failure causes a car crash, who is responsible for the bill?
If you’re driving a car, the law requires you to keep your vehicle in proper working condition. That includes maintaining the brakes and other mechanical systems. If the brakes fail because of poor maintenance, the driver who failed to maintain the vehicle is at fault.
However, many car crashes involve mistakes or unsafe behavior on the parts of both drivers. Ohio has a “contributory fault” law, which means that a jury will attribute a certain amount of the fault to each party. For example, say that you were hit by a driver whose brakes failed due to poor maintenance, but the accident happened as you ran a red light. At trial, the jury decides that you’re 30% responsible and the other driver bears 70% of the blame. That means the other driver must pay 70% of your costs from the accident.
An expert tip from Doug Mann
Your brakes may also fail because of a manufacturing or design defect. If that’s the case, the manufacturer or designer of the brakes may be liable. You may be entitled to compensation for the costs of any accident caused by the brake failure.
Car Crash Safety
We try our best to keep our cars well-maintained and drive safely, but accidents sometimes happen. Our Car Crash Kit can help you be prepared for when the worst happens.
We Can Help
If you’ve been injured in a car crash due to brake failure or any other cause, we can help you fight for your rights and the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and consultation to learn more about your options.