Slamming your brakes to a hard stop is no fun — even less so for your brake pads and the drivers behind you.
But that’s not all you should be worried about.
Hard braking can damage critical car parts like the driveshaft and even result in sky-high fuel costs.
This article will explore what’s hard braking, seven reasons why you should stay away from it, and five simple tips on how to go easy on your brakes.
This Article Contains:
- What Is Hard Braking?
- 7 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Hard Braking
- 5 Effective Ways to Avoid Hard Braking
Let’s brake gently in.
What Is Hard Braking?
Hard braking and acceleration happens when you use sudden, excessive force on your brake pedal or accelerator. This is known as the ‘lead foot syndrome’ and is a sign of aggressive driving.
Of course, sometimes you may have no choice but to hit your brakes hard, especially if you need to avoid a collision.
But if you find yourself slamming those brakes often, it might be because you aren’t paying enough attention to the traffic. This is a dangerous driving habit, as you may not always have control of your car and can crash into another vehicle.
It’s even riskier if you’re a truck driver because big vehicles take longer to stop.
For example, a truck traveling at 55 MPH takes nearly six seconds to come to a complete stop during a hard braking event — which is almost the length of two football fields!
That’s why you need to leave a safe distance between you and other cars on the road.
How do you know if you’re braking hard?
A typical hard braking event occurs when your vehicle drops speed by 7.5 MPH within 1 second. And if your car’s speed reduces by a massive 20 MPH in a second, it’s a major hard braking event.
Still not convinced?
Let’s find out why you should monitor hard braking and stop gently.
7 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Hard Braking
Harsh driving, including hard acceleration, can cause many issues, like a brake fluid leak, accelerated tire wear, or can even put the driver at risk.
Here are some reasons why you should stop slamming those brakes:
1. Reduces Gas Mileage
Did you know aggressive driving, both hard acceleration and heavy braking, can reduce fuel efficiency by 40%?
Pressing the brake pedal hard forces your transmission to switch to lower gears faster to help you accelerate after braking. Lower gears need more engine power, which increases fuel consumption and fuel costs.
2. Triggers Anti-Lock Braking System
Modern cars use the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) to stop your tire from locking when you brake fully.
The ABS reduces the brake pressure on your tire during a hard braking event. It gives you some control over your vehicle, prevents potential damage to your car’s internal systems, and stops your car from skidding or rolling over.
But frequent heavy braking can trigger the ABS when you don’t actually need it, leading to a less responsive brake pedal.
3. Overheats Brake Pads
Your brakes apply immense friction between the brake pads and the wheel axle to stop your car. This may wear out your brake pads faster.
However, if your brake pads overheat due to frequent harsh braking, it may speed up this process and cause other damages. For example, overheating can cause cracks in the brake hoses and leak brake fluid, ultimately limiting your car’s ability to stop.
Over time, these issues may lead to serious brake wear and brake fade, compromising your road safety.
4. Damages the Driveshaft
A driveshaft is a simple ball and socket configuration that allows your vehicle to move and turn.
Although a hard brake or rapid acceleration may not directly damage the driveshaft, it can cause uneven wear on the brake rotors and pads. This may result in vibrations in the suspension and drivetrain components like the driveshaft.
These vibrations can wear down the ball and socket, damaging the driveshaft and other drivetrain components.
5. Wears Out Your Tire Faster
If you apply too much brake pressure while speeding, your tire may lock up before your vehicle comes to a complete stop — even if you have ABS. As a result, your tires may slide along the pavement before the car stops.
This can wear out your front tires and reduce the tire’s traction.
6. Leads To Accidents
Although you may brake hard to avoid a collision, you could also easily get into one.
How does that happen?
Depending on the road condition (like slippery roads), no matter how hard you hit your brakes, your car may still continue to move for some time due to the momentum.
And if there’s a vehicle in front of your car — you’ll could quite possibly crash into it.
7. Increases Harmful Emissions
Did you know harsh braking and rapid acceleration can cause serious environmental pollution?
Frequent hard braking causes wear and tear on your tire, brakes, and roads, releasing dangerous microplastics into the atmosphere. Breathing in these microplastics can cause serious health conditions in humans and animals.
So, let’s find out how you can prevent harsh braking and go easy on your brakes.
5 Effective Ways to Avoid Hard Braking
Some simple ways you can avoid sudden braking are:
1. Keep Your Legs Closer to the Brakes
If your legs aren’t close enough to the brake pedal, you may have to resort to sudden braking, as it can be tough to brake gently.
So what’s the right way to position your legs and avoid sudden braking?
It’s always best to have your legs next to the brake pedal so you can easily apply them whenever needed. Ideally, your feet should be relaxed with your heels on the floor and the balls of the feet free to press the brake pedal.
This way, you’ll have more power and control over your brakes — giving you enough time to brake gently, stop your car with greater precision, and ensure safety.
2. Start Braking Early
To brake early, you should be able to estimate the distance between you and other vehicles and anticipate when to brake.
For example, if traffic has stopped ahead of you, apply brakes early and reduce your speed instead of slamming down your brakes at the last moment and potentially causing an accident.
But it’ll only work if you put some distance between you and other vehicles. Not only will this guarantee road safety, but also gives you more time to react and brake safely.
3. Release Pressure on Brakes Gently
Braking gently preserves your brake pads and rotors longer and ensures driver safety by preventing issues like brake fade.
You should be gentle in releasing pressure on the brake when moving to the accelerator pedal, and also be gentle when reapplying brake pressure to slow down or stop your car.
4. Use Your Brake Lights
Another great driving habit is to pay attention to other vehicles’ brake lights. This will help you anticipate when to slow down and avoid an accident.
Likewise, it’s also important to let other drivers know what you’re up to via your brake lights.
For example, use your turn signal when you take a turn and your brake light to let the driver near you know you’re slowing down. This way, they can adjust their driving accordingly and ensure road safety.
It’s good to check your brake lights regularly to ensure they’re working correctly. And if you don’t have a third brake light, consider installing one — it can be a lifesaver if your other brake lights fail.
5. Monitor Your Fleet Drivers
If you own fleet vehicles (like trucks and taxis) or are a fleet manager, the following tips may help you monitor hard braking and ensure your driver follows safe braking:
- Set ground rules for a minimum follow distance, speed, etc., to ensure driver safety
- Monitor fleet drivers that cause frequent accidents
- Give your truck driver enough time to reach destinations
- Use speed-limiting devices to maintain a speed limit
- Reward a good driving habit
Harsh driving in any form is dangerous for you and other drivers on the road. It can cause a collision and deteriorate critical car parts like brake rotors and brake pads.
So brake gently, stay under the speed limit, and ensure a safe distance between vehicles.
And if you need help with your brakes, RepairSmith is just a call away!
RepairSmith, a mobile repair service, offers upfront pricing, convenient online booking, and a 12-Month, 12,000-Mile warranty on all repairs — available seven days a week.
So if you think your vehicle is acting up, get in touch with us, and our experts will drop by to fix it for you!