Forums > Social Chat > Handbrake failure Or what to do when the worse happens.

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DrBooBRONZE Member
I invented the decaffinated coffee table.
453 posts
Location: Cornwall, United Kingdom

So. It was yesterday. I park my car on a hill in a housing estate to go and visit a client.

I turn back to the car to get some notes from my car and see that it is beginning to roll.... I grab my keys and, using the remote locking, try to get in the door. My remote locking doesn't work and the car picks up speed. I am pulling at the door handle, and trying to slow the car the bottom of the hill children are playing in the road and there is a row of houses - my car is heading straight for all of them.

It picks up more speed. No way can I stop it now.

I start yelling for help, a guy washing his car joins me chasing mine.

Incredibly, the kids move out of the way and the car comes to rest on a kerb at the bottom of the hill - not in someone's front room.

I am barely scathed - just very very shaken - although I had to hospital last night as we thought I'd broken my finger - but it's just a bit ripped and bruised (although I think I may have done some internal damage to it, maybe the top got dislocated? Whatever, it hurts like Hell. I need it to be more serious than a bruise! And it's making typing a little slow frown).

So my question/basis for this thread is this - worse case scenarios. What should I have done when the worse happened?

OK - in this case it's pretty obvious - pull the handbrake tighter (I blame my bloke for stretching the cable), point my tyres to the kerb, put it in gear, and not chased after my car like a loon. redface

But what of other near misses? What should you do, or what did you do?

Anyone got some survival advice that could help us in an emergency?

We may owe you ours lives one day. Or at least our fingers.

I have done a search for a thread like this, if I missed it, I apologise and expect to be castigated. wink

Boo x

I intend to live forever - so far, so good.

If it costs "a penny for your thoughts", but people give you their "two-pence worth", who is getting the extra penny?

_FSA_now comes with skydiving license
1,627 posts
Location: In your head. (Tasmania, Australia)

Hhmm...not sure about advise on how to deal with this, but I though I'd share with you a true story about a recent happening to one of the family cars.

Well we were out for a family trip to the Central Highlands in winter. Theres was a lot of snow around and the road was closed to all cars with out 4-wheel drive. Thankfully we had a land rover. We were driving down a hill when we saw a car attempting to come up the hill, they were stuck. So we got out, pulling over on the side of the road and making sure the hand brake was firmly on. In any other situation this would have been perfectly safe. But as we were coming back from helping push a car up the hill, we saw our own car sliding down the hill. (Not rolling, but sliding on the snow and ice).

Now not only was it just the car, but the trailer attached with a few hundred dollars worth of gravel and our dog in the back of the car were also rapidly gaining speed sliding down the hill and about to go off the edge of a drop off on the side of the road. eek

Our dad was the first to go running and we all followed. Now just as the car reached the very edge of the road and was about to tip off the edge, the trailer jack knifed and stopped the car sliding any further. Dad jumped in a reversed the hell out of there!

Thankfully everyone and everything involved was safe....but it was a very close call. We were much more careful driving and parking in the snow after that....!

Proudly owned by the very cute Pineapple Pete. Owner of Noddy. Joint owner of Mr Majestik.

6,650 posts

Yepp - maybe the gravel would have done a better job under the wheels but in the trailer...

Phew - very scary story...

Another tip: "Slowing down a motorbike"

The front brake takes about 80 and the rear takes 20% of the braking power. As long as you're not a professional motorcycler, concentrate on ONE of those two...

Apply the rear brake (and in an emergency let the rear wheel fishtail if it has to) and further concentrate on the front.

(In a regular process) "Open" the rear brake (so it doesn't skid) and increase the front brake. The weight of the motorcycle shifts to the front wheel, giving it more grip on the road and increases braking ability.

Off road it will have the same physics, yet the grip on gravel and sand is nothing compared to a solid (paved) road - bear in mind: the slower you get into the accident, the lesser the pain after you got out of it...

Good luck angel

the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

FoxInDocsSILVER Member
1,848 posts
Location: Adelaide, SA, Australia

Written by: FireTom

Sorry, just having different experiences with (Australian) dirt roads...

I'm Australian.

I learnt not to put my thumbs inside the wheel as part of having been a member of the Subaru 4WD Club of SA.

I drive an automatic vehicle with power-steering (1983 Subaru MY Touring Wagon - a small 4 wheel drive).

I think it's saved me alot of pain on a number of occasions.

"i am exotic, and must keep my arms down" - Rougie

"i don't understand what penises have to do with getting married" - Foxie

6,650 posts

Sure enough my own practical driving xperience in OZ (altogether a year, with 3 different vehicles)
a 1989 Toyota Landcruiser 4WD (car, power steering)
a 1985 Toyota Hiace (camper, power steering) and
a 1997 Merc UNIMOG 1550 4WD (5t truck, power steering)
do NOT turn me into an authority for 4WD...

If this is what the generally advised way of holding the wheel in offroad-mode is, I bow out - especially and foremost if I face criticism thereupon from 2 sympathetic looking and appearing HoP members - a "dateable aussie chick" and a "hooded pommie"! wink hug biggrin

Therefore please kindly forget what I have been writing about "thumbs in wheels off road" and futurely refer to "thumbs ON wheels off road"... smile

the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

FoxInDocsSILVER Member
1,848 posts
Location: Adelaide, SA, Australia


Ooh, i'm dateable? how nice.

I wouldn't call me authority either, that's just what i got told in driver training. and it seems to work good when you hit an unexpected rut in a sand dune at 80kph.

And i keeps my thumbs out of my wheel when i'm on the road too... i've never had an accident as such, but i've hit a kerb pretty hard once or twice, and have been glad i kept my thumbs out. (I really don't know how i managed the last one, i rolled the tyre off my rim when i hit a kerb going around a round about at 20kph... go figure)

"i am exotic, and must keep my arms down" - Rougie

"i don't understand what penises have to do with getting married" - Foxie

DuncGOLD Member
playing the days away
7,263 posts
Location: The Middle lands, United Kingdom

Written by: Various

If you're stuck in a sinking car, you have to wait whilst the car fills up with water. Then, the pressure inside and out is equalised, and you should be able to open the door. Take your seat belt off as soon as possible. It may be necessary to break a window to get out, but again, wait til the car has filled with water (you may need to hold your breath)

That's so outdated and dangerous I can't beleive I'm reading it.


They did experiments on that notion (and that's all it was, theory not proven facts) about 10 years ago and found that the risk of drowning is so redicoulously high it's pointless trying. The only thing to do if your car is sinking is get out as fast as you can. Open window, doors, anything but don't sit their waiting for it to fill up as you sink further and further under, especially if you have electric windows/locks, make sure you open them as soon as possible as they probably won't work at all once the motor and/or switches are wet.

As for "breaking windows underwater", when you're submersed in a car full of water and you're X metres below the surface (remember 1 sq metre of sea water is approx 1 tonne, pressure may be equal but beleive me resistance isnt)and have already been holding your breath for x-seconds building up your muscle lactic acid contect before you even start confused yeah right!!! Good luck with that one, you're gonna need it.

Can you imagine falling off a pier or similar into deep water and waiting for the pressure to equalise, 30 seconds after it has you finally wrestle the the door open (not easy with the weight of water against it!) and find yourself 20 metres from the surface looking upwards at the sky (that's hoping it's daylight and you know which way is upwards) Not good people, really, not good at all!!

If folks insist on giving what is essentially live saving advice, please make sure you get it right.

Here's a simple thought process for those reading who are also in beleif of dangerous and out dated practices.

1) Drive into deep water

2) Wait for the entire car to fill up with water before attempting escape

3) Hope that the central locking and electic windows still work and allow you to leave

4) Pushing open a car door underwater still has large vacuum problems and water has a lot of resistance

5) Breaking a window with your feet/anything when completely submerged and running out of air in your lungs is nigh on impossible

6) Waiting, being lucky enough to actually make escape from the car and then finding yourself 20 metres below the surface is still really bad.

OR, for those with sensible minds

1) Drive into deep water

2) Open doors and/or windows immediately

3) Make escape as fast as possible and remember how close you came to meeting death.

4) Thank god you don't believe all the outdated information you can read on an internet bulletin board!!

EDITED_BY: Dunc (1141043862)

Let's relight this forum ubblove

6,650 posts

@FoxInDocs: does it mean that the info you have given in your introductory thread is outdated? frown I was just referring to that and not to any remaining macho-element in my personality... smile wink

Thanks Dunc - I wasn't completely aware of all technical details.

Besides: Determining which way is "up", submerged in dark water/ nighttime - look which way the bubbles take and follow... wink

the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink