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NHTSA Issues Advisory As to Brake Pipe Failure Caused by Road Salt

June 18, 2015

Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a safety advisory to all owners of vehicles with a model year of 2007 or earlier. Even though summer has just begun, the warning advised these car and SUV owners as to the potential for brake pipe corrosion due to exposure to road salt occurring over a period of seven to eight years of exposure to winter road salts. If the brake pipe corrosion is not timely addressed, according to the NHTSA, there is a potential for brake pipe failure which can lead to serious and sometimes fatal accidents.

Protecting Against Brake Pipe Corrosion in Older Vehicles

If you own a car, minivan, or SUV that was manufactured in the year 2007 or earlier, follow these important steps recommended by the NHTSA to protect your vehicle against brake pipe corrosion:

  1. Remove road salts that can cause corrosion: At the end of the winter, it is important to thoroughly clean your vehicle. If you have not done so, now is an excellent time to wash the vehicle in its entirety, paying close attention to the undercarriage. Next winter, be sure to wash the undercarriage frequently.
  2. Monitor your brake system for signs of corrosion: If you own an older vehicle and live in a state that experiences cold weather, be sure to have a qualified mechanic inspect your vehicle at least twice a year, paying close attention to brake pipes and other undercarriage components. If there are any signs of corrosion, have your vehicle inspected more frequently.
  3. Keep an eye on brake fluid levels: Watch for any changes in how your brake fluid feels or for signs of a fluid leak beneath the vehicle. This could indicate a brake fluid leak in the brake pipes.
  4. If you find severe corrosion, take action: If you or a mechanic finds significant corrosion that causes scaling or flaking of brake components, then the entire brake assembly must be replaced. You cannot just replace part of the system, as the failure of one portion indicates the other portions are at risk of failure. Check with your vehicle's manufacturer to see if they have brake pipe kits which can minimize expense and make replacement easier.

The NHTSA recommends that if your brake pipe fails while driving, press and hold the brake pedal as this will improve brake functioning. In most cases, your anti-lock brakes will activate. Do not panic, as this is a normal part of the system taking over functioning. Allow yourself more time to stop than usual and do not pump the brakes. Proceed to a mechanic or have the vehicle towed to the nearest shop for repair.

Be sure to check with your vehicle's manufacturer for any possible brake pipe recalls, as several have been issued in recent years. If you are injured in a car accident that may have involved a defective brake pipe system, contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible so that essential evidence can be preserved.

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Category: Auto Accidents

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.