This week we’re showing you a near accident on a racetrack, involving a very little upgraded, street legal Ford Fiesta. Check the video !
1) Why did the accident happen
As you can see in the video, there isn’t actually an accident to talk about, but that’s only because the entire stunt happened on a racetrack. Imagine your car not stopping on public roads, where you aren’t usually alone on the streets.
The driver couldn’t stop the car because of brake fading. When you overheat the brakes, the friction material of the brake pads loses its physical properties, drastically lowering the brake’s friction coefficient. This means that, when you apply a hard brake, the car will behave as if you’ve slightly touched the brake pedal. In other words, the brakes’ efficiency will decrease as the brakes get hotter.
2) How the accident could have been prevented
These kind of accidents happen if you overheat the brakes. On racetracks like the one showed in the video, it’s easy to overheat the brakes because you have a lot of bends and between them you need to drive really fast. When you reach the bend, you need to brake as late as possible, meaning that you need to brake hard. A car which is not ready for a racetrack will behave badly, like the one in the video. The friction material needs to be something special in order to be able to stop the car even if the brakes are very hot. Usually, they use ceramic brakes.
On public roads, you can very easily overheat the brakes when driving on long descending roads. If you control the speed of the car during a long down hill by keeping your foot constantly on the brake pedal, you will overheat the brakes. This way, the brakes will fade quickly and you will reach the base of the down hill without any brakes. You will be in the same situation as the guy in the movie, but the difference will be that you won’t have the same space to stop as he did.
To prevent brake fading when going down hill, use your engine break. If you’re driving a normal 5 passenger car on a road that is very comfortable to drive on at 60 km/h, you should be in third or even second gear. This way, the engine’ compression will actually slow the car, maintaining a fairly constant speed. If you go too fast, depending on the down hill, you can use the brakes from time to time to adjust the distance from the driver in front of you or to adjust the speed you’re going (because going down hill can accelerate your car pretty fast). Also, not pressing the brake pedal constantly allows the brakes to cool down.
3) How to react if the accident happens
If brake fading happens to you, try to use a lower gear (third at most, second or even first). Depending on the space you have, you can stop like that. You should try to release the brake pedal for as many seconds as you can to cool the brakes down a bit and try to brake again. If your brakes fail, there isn’t much you can do. Try to aim for a clear spot on the road or along side it, away from incoming traffic or pedestrians.
See you next week, take care !