When we’re studying for our driver’s tests, our driver’s manuals tell us what to do if the brake pedal suddenly falls to the floor while we’re driving.
Well, we forget what’s in those old booklets over time, so we need a little refresher. But to help you remember for next time, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know and explain why it happened in the first place. Just keep reading.
What To Do if Your Brake Pedal Suddenly Sinks to the Floor While Driving
If you’re driving and all of a sudden the brake pedal goes all the way to the floor, there’s a very big problem. This is because it means that there isn’t enough pressure in the brake system, which means that the car won’t stop when you press the pedal.
When this happens, the first thing you need to do is hit the brakes as fast as you can. This is an effort to build up the pressure on the brakes. If it works, you need to pull over to the side of the road right away and stop driving.
During this, if you are driving a car with a manual transmission, you should shift to a lower gear. Some automatic cars also let you change gears by hand. If you can, shift down to a lower gear. This will slow your car down without you having to use the brakes.
Even if the brakes have pressure after you pump them, that doesn’t mean the problem is fixed. In fact, it’s likely that the pressure will only last for a short time. But if you can’t get pressure to build, it’s time to try using the parking brake to slow down your car.
This works because the service brakes stop the car by using hydraulic pressure from the brake fluid, but the parking brake stops the car by using a mechanical linkage. The brake pedal uses brake fluid to stop the car, while the parking brake uses a wire.
You don’t want to use the parking brake all at once, though, or you’ll lose control of the car. Instead, put the brake on slowly and give the car time to slow down while you do it.
Lastly, if your parking brake is a push-button that you can’t press slowly, turn off the car and let it slow down as much as possible on its own before using the emergency brake.
After stopping the car and moving it to a safe place, you should call a tow truck. There’s no safe way to move the car, and there’s too much to fix and figure out on the side of the road.
Troubleshooting a Brake Pedal That Suddenly Sinks to the Floor
If you notice the problem before you hit the road, you can figure out what’s wrong. But whatever you do, don’t drive your car until you’ve fixed the problem and bled the brakes. If you don’t, you risk getting into an accident.
First, check the brake fluid levels again. If the pedal falls to the floor without any pressure, there’s a good chance there’s a leak, which means you should’ve lost some brake fluid.
If you have lost brake fluid, you need to check the brake lines, callipers, master cylinder, and brake booster until you find the leak. By far the most common reason for a brake pedal that suddenly drops to the floor is a brake leak.
But an electronic problem is another possible cause in new cars. Some modern cars don’t have a direct connection between the brake booster and the brake. Instead, they have a system called “brake-by-wire,” which uses sensors to figure out how far down on the pedal you have pressed.
Even though they have a backup hydraulic brake system, if both systems fail, the pedal can go all the way to the floor and the brakes won’t work.
When you step on the brake pedal, you don’t just want the car to stop, you need it to. That’s why it’s a big problem if your brake pedal goes to the floor even though you didn’t press it. You won’t be able to stop when you need to!
But if the worst does happen, the first step to staying safe on the road is to know what to do if the brake pedal suddenly falls to the floor. After reading this guide, you should know exactly what to do and how to fix problems when you get to a safe place.