Brakes allow drivers to safely operate a vehicle, slow down to avoid an accident, and stop the vehicle when it is not operating. Any problem with a vehicle's braking system can seriously endanger drivers, passengers, and bystanders. Unfortunately for California consumers, vehicle manufacturers may delay notifying drivers of brake safety issues until there are multiple reports of injuries. If your vehicle has defective brakes or other safety problems, the California Lemon Lawyer may be able to help you get compensation, a replacement vehicle, or vehicle repairs.
Braking Systems in Motor Vehicles
Braking systems in motor vehicles have evolved a lot over the past few decades. The earliest braking system in cars involved pressing a wooden block against the steel rims of the wheels, causing friction to slow and stop the movement of the vehicle. Since the early 1900s, there have been many brake innovations, including anti-lock braking systems (ABS), four-wheel brakes, power assist braking, and automatic brakes.
However, even as braking systems have changed, there continue to be defects, design problems, and manufacturing issues that prevent the brakes from operating as intended. When brakes fail to work as expected, it can place the driver in danger of an injury or fatal accident.
There are a number of potential areas where braking system defects and malfunctions can fail. Examples of brake and braking system problems may include:
- Brake fluid leaks,
- Electrical problems,
- Software problems,
- Welding defects,
- Defective brake pads,
- Substandard materials,
- Manufacturing defects,
- Faulty designs, or
- Faulty brake lights.
Faulty Brake Lights
Brake lights are supposed to light up at the rear of the vehicle to warn other drivers that the vehicle is slowing down. An electrical problem with the brake lights may not affect the vehicle's ability to brake but it could be dangerous when following vehicles are not alerted to slowing or stopped traffic ahead. This can result in a rear-end accident, which can cause serious neck or back injuries for drivers and passengers, including whiplash.
Brake light problems were the cause of a Subaru recall, where more than 2 million vehicles were recalled because of a brake problem. According to the NHTSA campaign, exposure to certain contaminants could cause the brake light switch to malfunction, preventing the brake lights from illuminating.
Brake Fluid Leaks or Exposure
Brake fluid or hydraulic fluid helps move the various braking system components allowing the brakes to engage when the driver depresses the brake pedal. A leak in the brake fluid or exposure of the brake fluid system can make it take longer to slow down or hinder the operation of the brakes. This can increase the risk of an accident and put the driver and passengers at risk of an injury.
Brake fluid problems are the subject of many recalls, including a GM recall. According to the NHTSA, faulty brake components in many GM vehicles could cause bubbles to form in the brake fluid which could reduce the effectiveness of rear brakes and reduce brake performance. This affected a number of 2018-2019 models, including:
- Chevy Equinox
- GMC Terrain
- Buick Lacrosse
- Cadillac XTS
A similar issue also affected a number of other vehicle manufacturers, including:
Floor Mat Interference
Something as simple as a floor mat getting in the way of the brake pedal can be extremely dangerous. When a floor mat shifts and moves under the brake pedal, it can prevent the driver from being able to depress the brakes all the way, reducing the ability to slow down or stop and put the driver at risk of an accident.
A number of Toyota vehicles had to be recalled because of pedal entrapment and floor mat problems. Almost 9 million vehicles were recalled and sales were suspended for the affected models. Some of the models affected by the floor mat problems included:
- Pontiac Vibe
Automatic Emergency Braking Defects
Many newer models of vehicles are equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB) features. This is intended to be a safety feature that engages the brake when there is an obstacle or hazard ahead. However, if the AEB system engages where there is no obstruction, this can put the vehicle at risk of an accident.
The NHTSA is investigating reports of Nissan AEB problems where the system reportedly engaged with no obstructions in the vehicle's path. Jaguar and Land Rover have also recalled certain vehicles related to AEB malfunctions.
California Lemon Lawyer for Braking System Problems
California's Lemon Law provides protection for vehicle owners with faulty brakes and defective brake problems that could be dangerous. Contact The Lemon Lawyer today to help you understand your rights and options, including getting a refund, returning a faulty vehicle, free repairs or replacement, or other compensation for a defective car, truck, or SUV.