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Know Your Car Basics 101: Brake Failed, Scariest Thing in 2011

brake scariest master pump

(Having a faulty brake master pump so early in 2011 is considered the scariest thing of the year. Image source:

The year 2011 is proving to be a very interesting year. Earlier this year, we did the craziest thing and last week, it proves to be the scariest.

But before I narrate what had happened, let me highlight what I had read in a magazine before Chinese New Year – an article about the Chinese horoscope for 2011. My zodiac was reported to be doing so-so in the Year of the Rabbit.

Another article in a local daily shows that my star is going to be very lucky this year. I guess different feng-shui master have their own interpretations for the Year of Rabbit. I guess the “being lucky” part played a big role in what happened last week.

Last week, I suppose to go over for a Chinese New Year open house. The function starts at 7.30 pm, so at 7.00 pm, I decided to pack up my things and drive to the place. Exiting the basement parking I contemplated on the route to take – there was one faster route but I don’t know what happened, I took the longer, heavy traffic route (I guess the hands was not listening to what the mind was thinking).

As I got stuck in the traffic jam, I regretted taking this route – I wished I could u-turn back and go back to the faster route. The traffic hardly moved. Ahead I saw my opportunity to exit out from the current lane and head back to the faster route. I was anxious to get out from this heavy traffic jammed lane and head to the faster lane – I don’t want to be late for the function.

As I drive up further, I sense something not right. The brake felt somehow soft and unresponsive. The car stops but only after I had floored the brake pedal all the way to the end. The usual brake pressure was somehow missing. At first, I thought it was due to the shoe that I was wearing that day but it was not it. As I was thinking about this problem, I realized that I had missed the exit to the faster lane and remained in the traffic-jammed lane.

But now, the problem was getting even more obvious – not only the brake was not working but there was a weird sound whenever I press on the pedals. But since the warning lights on the brakes did not lit up, I wondered what is causing the problem. A month ago, I had serviced my rear brakes and I wondered if the guys who worked on the brakes had done something wrong.

As I look back now, it must have been one of my luckiest days for if I had taken the faster route where I would be driving at 80 km/h and more, it would have been a disaster if I had to brake and there were no brakes on my car. But now, with me stuck in the traffic jam and practically inching along the way, I was able to stop my car using whatever brake pressure I had and the handbrake.

And by then, I was glad that I had serviced the brakes as well – with tighter braking, gaps the car stops faster by means of friction. I knew that there was a car workshop nearby and I prayed that I could control the car just enough to reach this workshop safely and without knocking into anyone else. I kept driving slower although the traffic was now moving faster. I managed to do that but considering the time, I wondered if the workshop was still opened.

As I drove over to the workshop, I felt a sense of relieve – the workshop was still opened although the mechanics were packing up things inside the workshop. They came over and checked on my car – no leakage of brake fluids and the brakes were in good conditions. They, in the end, sourced the problem as coming from a faulty brake master pump.

Then another problem cropped up – since I had modified my braking system to accommodate for a rear disc brake, they did not have the right parts and the spare part shop was already closed at that time. There was no other choice but leave the car for the night since it was too dangerous to drive without brakes. Thankfully the next day was the weekend. I called my wife to come over and pick me up and rather reluctantly left the car at the workshop.

The next day I woke up late for I knew the workshop opens late and after breakfast, headed to the workshop. I noticed that the mechanics have dismantled the faulty brake master pump and was waiting for the replacement. Having nothing much to do at the workshop; I decided to go back and come later.

A couple of hours later and after a good lunch; we headed back to the workshop. From far, I caught a glimpse of my car on the road, being tested and I knew that the problem has been solved. I went to the workshop and the mechanics told me that they have replaced the faulty brake master pump. I took it for a test run and found the brakes were very responsive and felt safe.

The total cost was RM180 including labour. Something rather cheap compared to the cost that I might have to pay if I had driven on the faster lane and slammed on several cars.

It is still too early to say if the Year of the Rabbit is the luckiest year for me but it has proven to be one of the scariest.

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