Have your brakes been feeling a little grabby lately? Do you find your brakes slowing your car down when you aren’t pressing on the brake pedal? Or, are your brakes locking up after you slam on them? First things first, you shouldn’t be driving your car in traffic until you determine what the problem is and get it resolved. Now, it’s time to learn why your brakes are locking up.
If you have anti-lock brakes, they should not lock up while you are driving unless there is an underlying problem. Some of the most common underlying issues include faulty brake pads, bad calipers on the disc brakes or faulty cylinders on the drum brakes.
Regardless of the type of brakes that you have, if your vehicle veers sharply to one side or the other when the brakes are locked, it’s a sign that you should take your car into a mechanic for an official diagnosis. The mechanic will start by working up your brake system. Caliper piston problems, master cylinder issues and a variety of other problems can cause your brakes to lock when driving normally.
Brakes without anti-lock capabilities will lock up whenever you apply hard and steady pressure to them. This occurs most often when slamming on the brakes. If you braked so hard that your tires made a squealing sound, there’s a high probability that your brakes will lock up.
What Should You Do When Your Brakes Lock?
Before anti-lock brakes (ABS), brake systems locking up while driving was much more common. When speeding over black ice or wet leaves, it is tempting to slam on the brakes when you need to stop. However, that will lead to the system locking up and send you sliding down the road. The moment that you feel the brakes start to lock in a car without ABS, you should release the pressure on the pedal entirely and then rapidly pump the brake until the car stops.
If your car has anti-lock brakes, to prevent locking up and sliding, you will feel a vibration and pulsing underneath the pedal as you stop. The brake system is completing the pumping on your behalf. Don’t take your foot off the brake pedal, because the mechanisms in the car are doing the work for you.