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2000 Pontiac Sunfire Brake problem

Hi, maybe you guys have a solution for me, since my mechanic doesn’t…

My car’s brakes lock up when I stop fast. It’s been happening more frequently lately and is much worse on a hill or on wet roads. I think my car has anti-lock brakes, so it shouldn’t be happening. Well, it didn’t used to do this in any case. The car refuses to do it with the mechanic driving it, so he says he can’t diagnose the problem. I’ve almost hit other cars a couple of times now since the car just locks and slides… it’s scary!!

“I think my car has anti-lock brakes”

The next time that you turn on the ignition, prior to starting the engine, look for an illuminated warning light (it could say ABS, or it could have some kind of pictogram representing an ABS system). If there is a light of this type on your dash panel, then you can be sure that the car has ABS. Notice that I didn’t say that you have functioning ABS.

If you don’t see a warning light of that type when you turn on the ignition, then it means either that you don’t have ABS or that the warning light is burned out.

Try to figure out whether the car is equipped with ABS and post back in this thread, as your answer will influence the responses that you get.

However, I also have to comment on something else that you stated, namely–“I’ve almost hit other cars a couple of times now since the car just locks and slides”. This is an indication that you are either driving too fast for the weather/traffic conditions, and/or that you are tailgating other cars.

Until you get this sorted out (and even after it is repaired), you should slow down and leave sufficient distance between you and the vehicle in front so that you don’t have to jam your brakes on. In the 25+ years that I drove before the advent of ABS, I can think of only 2 or 3 occasions in those 25+ years when my non-ABS brakes went into lockup. Your own statement indicates that you need to modify your driving style.

Ok, I double checked… the car does come with ABS. I’ve driven it for over 3 years now, and the brakes have only been doing this for about 6-8 months, increasing over time. And I am stopping with plenty of space – the brakes lock and the car slides, which is not normal. And I try to compensate for it, beginning to stop as far as 2 car lengths back if I’m on a hill and I suspect it might happen. I don’t tailgate people and I drive as fast as everyone else on the road, slower in the rain. My main fear is that I live in Atlanta with the worst drivers in the world. I drive in rush hour and at least once a week have to slam on the brakes in a non-controlled situation and one of these days I will hit someone if I can’t figure out what’s wrong and get it fixed. I am a safe driver!! Maybe I should go to a different mechanic.

You definitely need a new mechanic!

However, DO NOT go to Midas, or Meineke, or any other chain. Ask friends, co-workers, relatives and neighbors for recommendations on an independent mechanic who has a reputation for brake expertise.