“Getting Passed” By A Dynasty With A Locked Rear Wheel: Sudden Brake Failure Or Driving Without Brakes?

Dodge Dynasty red8

We had a rather scary close call last Sunday. We drove out to the coast in the TSX, with an old friend who was visiting. That’s a 55 mile drive on Hwy 126, a rather windy two-lane highway known for frequent accidents. On the way back, traffic was thick, as everyone was going home after a long weekend. Not a good time to be out on the road with bad brakes.

As I came around a bend, I saw brake lights, and that traffic ahead was going along at about 30 mph or so. I braked moderately to slow down, as there was still a bit of distance ahead to the next car. I heard a screeching sound behind me, and looked in the rear view mirror, but it wasn’t there. I realized that it was now next to me, and I looked out my side window, to see a red Dodge Dynasty “passing” me, with its rear wheel locked up and smoking. By its slow rate of braking, it was my clear impression that the front brakes were not working at all. The scruffy driver didn’t look all that surprised either, as one might expect from a sudden brake failure. As I was still doing thirty, I soon pulled ahead of him, and he pulled back behind me, and then he and the car behind him both pulled off on the shoulder. Sudden brake failure, or was he driving with only his emergency brake?

It all happened in a flash, and at first I thought maybe he had a sudden brake failure. But in thinking about this on the way home, I decided he most likely was trying to drive this old Dodge back to Eugene without any brakes, as a modern dual-circuit brake system would still have worked reasonably well. I didn’t brake very hard at all, and unless he was going really fast, and not paying attention, it’s hard to imagine why he would have shot by me like that, with so little braking force.

And the fact that he then pulled over on the shoulder, with the car behind him, tends to add to that theory…follow me, and if anything goes wrong…we’ll pull over. Actually, if that’s what they were doing, the chase car should have been ahead of the Dynasty, to act as a buffer in case of a fast stop, which normally is not needed on this stretch of road. Unless….

The really lucky thing of course was the fact that it was a straight stretch of road after that bend, and there was no opposing traffic coming, so that he could move over in the other lane instead of plowing into the back of us.