New Ford Focus, break failure

We recently purchased a new 2009 Ford Focus, five speed shift, and it didn’t take us long to put 4000 miles on it. But today a frightening thing happened. When my husband applied the breaks approaching an intersection absolutely nothing happened. We were horrified at the inability to stop, but through downshifting and a screeching right turn we landed safely. Afterwards. the breaks worked normally for the trip home. Needless to say, our adrenalin was pumping. We will take it in to the Ford dealership tomorrow, but I was wondering if anyone had ever heard of this happening? My husband is absolutely sure the problem was nothing he did, and as an excellent driver I believe him - not to mention that he has had 4000 miles to get used to the car.

Were you driving in an area with a lot of hills?

Sometimes the brakes can overheat if the driver uses the brakes on a long steep hill instead of downshifting to control speed. I suppose it could be a number of other things too.

What were the specific symptoms? Did the brake pedal go all the way to the floor, or did it give resistance but not provide braking? If the pedal went all the way to the floor, did your husband try pumping the brakes?

It could be a defective master cylinder.
The dealer should replace it straight away as a gesture of goodwill…

We had been on a level interstate for about 50 miles and took an exit, also level. The brakes went totally to the floor with no resistance at all. And he did try pumping the brakes, to no avail. It was as if we had absolutely no brakes at all. It’s at the Ford dealership now. I’m eager to hear what they have to say…

One correction. I just spoke to my husband and he said the brakes did not drop to the floor with no resistance. He said it felt like you were putting on the brakes - in other words, everything felt normal, yet it had absolutely no effect. The car did not slow down in the least.

Is the floormat free to move around?
It could have gotten caught up behind the brake pedal.

Good question. My husband doesn’t think so, but he could not definitely rule it out. It’s something to consider. Thank you.

Thank you for this about the master cylinder. If it ever happens again, we will see that it is done. The Ford Dealership today went over the car carefully and said they could find nothing wrong. We shall see…

I really don’t think it was the master cylinder. Typically, when a master cylinder fails, the brake pedal will engage much lower than normal, and pumping it will get it to engage properly.

Was it raining? Any chance you went through water before you tried to apply the brakes?

Re the rain…no, no water.