The Rise of ABS Brakes in Modern Vehicles

When it comes to the long term safety and maintenance of your vehicle, there are some parts that will always be crucial to the equation. Two of the most common parts include the brake system, as well as the clutch. These components need to be regularly checked and closely watched, as problems could not only affect the value of your car, but also put you at risk when each time you get behind the wheel. Today, we’re taking a closer look at a specific brake system which was popularised in the last couple of decades as an innovation in safety and design. Many of us would have seen “ABS Brakes” on the specs list before buying a car, or heard about them on a TV advertisement, but what are they, and how do they work? Let’s dive into ABS Brakes, how they increase your ability to control your vehicle and also contemplate what to do when they start to act up. 

What are ABS Brakes?

ABS stands for “anti-lock braking system”. This type of brake is an anti-skid system which is prevalent not only on vehicles, motorcycles, trucks and buses, but even used on some aircraft. The system prevents the wheels from locking up when the brakes are applied, essentially creating direct contact with the road surface. This means the car may come to a stop faster than with traditional brake systems (we will discuss this further later), but generally serves to offer better overall vehicle control while on a range of different terrains, factoring in conditions as well. The rise of ABS brakes has improved general safety of vehicles, paving the way for technological advancements like emergency brake assist, among others.

How ABS Brakes Work

ABS forms part of a general stability system in the vehicle, namely the electronic stability control, which keeps an eye on the wheels in a situation where additional force is applied to the brakes. If the sensors detect that a wheel is about to lock up (stop moving), the system releases the brake for a short moment. ABS then kicks in continuously, applying braking pressure to each wheel, implying that the system will brake fractionally, i.e. just enough not to lock the wheels. This ensures the driver is able to maintain better control of the vehicle, rather than bringing the car to an abrupt stop. While the car’s braking distance may increase, ABS brakes are more likely to reduce the amount of skidding when undertaking various evasive manoeuvres. ABS improves control of the vehicle, but doesn’t necessarily decrease stopping distance. It may well assist with shorter stop times in day-to-day traffic, where conditions are not as severe.

Troubleshooting ABS Brakes

If your car is equipped with ABS brakes, there will most likely be a light on the dash to indicate if there is a fault or failure of the system. If the light goes on, it can be as a result of a multitude of common problems, relating the wear and tear, or even, based on the conditions in which you’ve been driving the car. While there are ways to have a look at the wiring, and to explore fixing the problem yourself, with a system that is important to the overall maintenance of your car, and something as important as a brake, you’ll likely be better off seeking some expert advice instead. If the light has gone on and the system is in troubleshooting mode, make a point to go see a specialist as soon as possible, and they will be able to get a sense of all possible scenarios leading to the fault in the system.