For most people, their vehicle’s braking system is something they take for granted. When they push the brake pedal, they expect the vehicle to slow and come to a stop. But what if it doesn’t? It can be a scary situation when you step on the brake pedal and it goes to the floor without stopping your vehicle.
ARCCA was recently involved in the accident investigation/failure analyses of several accidents that were caused by brake failure. Most vehicles on the road have a combination of rigid metal brake lines and rubber or braided hoses that contain the brake fluid and transmit the hydraulic pressure to slow or stop your vehicle. Brake lines are very susceptible to wear, corrosion, and damage, with corrosion being particularly destructive to metal brake lines. Corrosion eats away at the metal surface, leaving thin and weak spots in your brake lines. If unchecked, the corrosion can thin the lines to the point where they can no longer hold the hydraulic pressure, causing them to rupture.
Not all states require annual vehicle safety inspections, but even those that do may not require a visual inspection of the brake lines for corrosion. It is important to remember to have your brake lines inspected regularly and, if there are any signs of corrosion, get the lines replaced before it is too late.
DANIEL McDONOUGH, P.E., ACTAR, is a mechanical expert and accident reconstructionist at ARCCA specializing in the safety of mechanical systems and devices including: automotive, marine, aviation, recreational, commercial and industrial equipment and systems. He has designed vehicle occupant protection systems for the US Army, including a novel seating system for mitigating mine blast injuries, and has also consulted with the National Hockey League regarding rink design to improve player safety.