Per the insured, she was driving her vehicle when suddenly the brakes had no pressure, and the brake pedal went to the floor. The emergency brake did not stop the vehicle, and putting the vehicle in park did not stop her vehicle. Accordingly, she rear-ended the vehicle in front of her. Her brake pads were reportedly replaced six months prior to the accident.
GEI was assigned to inspect the vehicle to identify any manufacturing, mechanical, or service defects or failures in the brake system that could have caused or contributed to this accident and to research any recalls for this make, model, and year of vehicle.
The vehicle sustained major damage to the body, including the front bumper, hood, left front fender, radiator support, and the left headlamp. The ignition key was not with the vehicle, preventing operation of the engine to inspect the function of vacuum brake booster.
The vehicle was equipped with all-wheel disc brakes and an anti-lock brake system (ABS). The right front wheel was removed for inspection and measurement of the rotor and pads. The brake rotor measured 1.048 inches, which exceeded the minimum thickness of 1.024 inches.
The outer brake pad had .156 inches of friction material remaining, which was above the minimum thickness of .039 inches. The other wheels gave similar measurements. The rear brake pads were nearly new in thickness and had been recently replaced. The brake fluid was checked for contamination using a FASCAR test strip and found to be dirty but serviceable.
The fluid level in the reservoir was above the minimum fluid level line. No leaks were found at the master cylinder, brake lines, nor in any of the four brake caliper assemblies.
The un-depressed measurement from the top of the brake pedal to the floor was 4.5 inches. When depressed, the distance changed to 3.25 inches. The pedal was depressed twenty-five times and held in the depressed position for two full minutes. The pedal measurement remained a constant 3.25 inches at all times. The vehicle was moved, by hand, on a downgrade to check the function of the brake system. While the vehicle was moving, the brake pedal was depressed and the vehicle stopped immediately. The emergency brake system was foot-operated with the smaller pedal located at the far left of the driver’s floor area and was depressed to activate the emergency brake system. The rear wheels would then not rotate, and the vehicle could not be moved by hand, indicating no malfunctions with the emergency brake system. When the gear selector was in the “park” position of the automatic transmission, the vehicle would not move, indicating no defects with the internal transmission components regarding the parking pawl component, which prevents movement of the vehicle when park is engaged.
A search on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website was performed for recalls and none were found that pertained to this particular make, model, and year of vehicle.
In summary, all mechanical components of the brake system were in proper working order, and the brake rotors and pads were in good condition. No evidence of any manufacturing, mechanical, or service defects or failures in the brake system were found that could have caused or contributed to the accident.