ABS, How It Works And Why It Matters

ABS or Anti-Lock Braking Systems are one of the most revolutionary safety features in the history of automobiles. Although most drivers have likely heard of ABS, it is important to understand how this feature can be utilized.

ABS technology was first invented in 1929 by Gabriel Voisin for use in the airplanes of the time.  A few decades later the technology made its way to motorcycles and was finally implemented slowly into cars and trucks during the 1970s.  In 2011 the United States Federal Government began to require all new vehicles to include ABS.

How do Anti-Locking Brakes work?

Understanding how an ABS on a vehicle functions, allows a driver to get a better understanding of how to utilize it. When a driver presses too firmly and rapidly on their brake pedal it can cause the brakes to lock (on vehicles without an ABS). This causes the driver to lose control of steering the vehicle. Anti-lock Brake Systems automatically “pump” the brakes of a vehicle to prevent them from locking up.  According to mycardoeswhat.org, there are 4 steps in the operation process for an ABS once the brake pedal is firmly pressed.

  1. ABS sensors on wheels detect an impending skid
  2. ABS controller reacts to prevent wheel lock-up
  3. Brake fluid pressure changes to each wheel
  4. ABS pumps brakes so the driver can focus on steering the vehicle

This process allows the driver to focus on steering the vehicle to safety.

How to utilize Anti-Lock Brakes.

Anti-Lock Braking Systems are designed to operate without much effort on the part of the driver, but there are still a few steps to be taken in order to avoid unnecessary dangers.

  • Check to make sure your vehicle is equipped with an ABS. If your vehicle’s model year is after 2012 it should be equipped with an ABS under federal regulation in the U.S. Check the owner’s manual to confirm whether or not your vehicle is ABS-equipped.
  • If a sudden stop is necessary, push firmly and rapidly on your brakes (assuming your vehicle has an ABS). Don’t attempt to pump the brakes yourself, but rather focus on steering the vehicle to safety. If you feel or hear the brakes vibrating, that means that the ABS is working properly.
  • Keep your tires inflated properly and replace them if they are worn. This will improve the stopping distance of your vehicle.