Driving: How to brake properly
The amount of coolant additive to be mixed with water depends on your local climate, your manual will tell you which additive and the mixing ratio to use. In extremely cold areas it is possible for the coolant to freeze (though we are fairly safe in Australia) and cause engine damage if the ratio isn’t right. If you live in a particularly cold area, it’s worth getting the concentration checked prior to winter to make sure you’re not putting your car at risk.
If the expansion tank is empty, don’t add anything to the reservoir. There’s a risk that air could have found its way into the system which would cause major issues if you top it up. Head straight to a professional for help.
THE first rule for braking when road driving is not to. You should be using skilled observation of traffic situations to avoid the need to slow down, or be surprised so that you end up braking harshly at the last minute. If you can do that then you’ll use less fuel, and move from A to B quicker as you won’t need to spend time accelerating again, because you’re already at speed.
For example, see that red light in the distance? Don’t rush up to it and slam the anchors on, cruise up and cruise through as it turns green. What the roundabout? Time your entrance so you don’t need to slow down. And, no, we’re not suggesting you can just blast your way along no matter what, just that observation is everything when driving.
Sooner or later you will need to brake. The right way is smooth… gently apply pressure up to a maximum, and then ease equally smoothly off the pedal. The throttle is not a light-switch, it’s a dimmer switch. Bad drivers just jump off the brake pedal, and everyone feels a momentary jerk as the weight transfers off the front wheels. Good drivers progressively release the brake and transition to the accelerator so smoothly nobody can quite tell when braking has finished. You’re better able to be smooth if you’ve practiced that good observation so you’re looking well ahead at all times.
Coming to a stop also separates the good driver from the bad. The bad way is the taxi stop – constant brake pressure, then the car rocks back on its suspension as it comes to a halt. The good way is the limo stop – as the car is about to halt relax the brake pressure so you almost roll to a stop with no nosedive and rocking backwards. Don’t forget to leave enough space between you and the car in front such that you can see its rear tyres – that way you can manoeuvre out of the way if needs be. You’ll usually find the brake fluid reservoir hidden up behind the engine. It’s not something you should change yourself, but you do need to keep an eye on it and it may need the occasional top up.
The fluid level will go down as the brake But in the case of an emergency all that goes out the window.
Emergency Braking with ABS Most cars these days have ABS, and the braking technique is simple. Smash your foot to the floor and keep it there, regardless of whatever pulsing you feel through the pedal. The main advantage of ABS is that it doesn’t lock the wheels, which allows you to brake and steer, as opposed to non-abs cars which would lock the front wheels – then you’re travelling in a straight line regardless of what you do with the wheel. One other tip for an emergency stop is to look where you want to go and steer where you want to go. You tend to hit what you’re looking at. Some driving experts may query the exact technique described above, perhaps favouring a less aggressive stab of the brakes..but let’s be honest in real-world situations with non-expert drivers slamming Usually located on the passenger side under the bonnet, locate the reservoir and remove the cap. Some cars will have a see-through container with a min and max mark.
It’s best to do this when the car is cold. Like the oil, the cap will have a dipstick attached you foot to the floor quickly is the best move, and modern cars are designed to handle it.
Emergency Braking ABS If your car doesn’t have ABS then braking is more complex. You need to quickly and firmly squeeze on the brakes, but don’t stab as that might lock the wheels. Increase brake pressure rapidly, but if the wheels lock then you must instantly relax the brake pressure a fraction, then reapply. Do not jump off the brakes, it’s just a fractional easing, and then instantly reapply. In effect, you’re doing what ABS does. How do you know when the wheels lock? You’ll hear a sudden squeal, but remember a little bit of tyre noise is normal when braking hard.
If you brake without ABS on dry roads and the wheels lock up then your stopping distance will be about what it would have been had they
without not locked. However, you won’t be able to steer. A standard demonstration on car control courses is brake hard enough to lock the front wheels, turn the steering wheel to full lock, and the car carries on dead straight. To regain steering control, you need to again relax that brake pressure just a fraction which frees up some tyre grip for turning as opposed to using it all for braking. If you had ABS that would be done automagically for you.
If emergency braking without ABS sounds difficult, well, it is. That’s why ABS is such a lifesaver. Best advice is to find a deserted road and practice (from only 60km/h) or better yet, go on low-risk driver training course. But remember, the best drivers never need to do emergency stops because they’ve observed and anticipated the problems before they actually happen. Braking wisdom – true or false You should use the engine to slow