Auto Repair Tips: What ABS Can and Can’t Do

Posted April 12, 2013

Whether you were just cut off on the highway or reacting to an abrupt animal crossing, there comes a time where you may need to slam on your brakes in order to avoid an accident. Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) were designed to be your best friend in these situations. ABS prevents skidding to enable you to keep control of your vehicle until you can stop safely. ABS also prevents tire damage since it doesn’t lock the wheels during a stop thus shortening the stopping distance of your car.

Types of ABS Systems

There are two types of ABS. Vans and some light trucks have a two-wheel anti-lock braking system on the back tires.  During a stop, the vehicle will continue to move in a straight line even though the two front wheels may lock up.

A four-wheel anti-lock braking system can be found on other light trucks and most cars. It is easier to maintain your steering with ABS because it will prevent all four wheels from locking up. This way you can have control over your vehicle during an emergency stop and stay out of harm’s way.

How ABS Works

If a vehicle is equipped with ABS, it will have a microprocessor called an anti-lock brake computer located inside the vehicle. This microprocessor will monitor the speed of each wheel using its speed sensor. When braking, the system will trigger electronic solenoids to release hydraulic pressure to each wheel much faster than manually pumping a set of ordinary brakes. You can feel the pulsating of this process when completing a high-speed stop. It is important to NEVER pump an anti-lock braking system in this situation and keep firm pressure on the brake pedal.

Unfortunately, ABS cannot prevent all skids and, in certain situations, it does not shorten the stopping distance of your vehicle. High speeds, sharp turns and slamming on the brakes can still send a vehicle with ABS into a skid.  Since anti-lock braking systems will always prevent the wheels from locking, cars with ordinary braking systems will find it easier to stop on roads with loose gravel or snow as it forms a wedge in front of a locked wheel.

If you see an amber “anti-lock” light on your dashboard this means your ABS is not working properly.  You will still have an ordinary braking system, but it is advised that you bring your car to our Holland location so our certified mechanics can get your ABS working properly again and inspect your vehicle for any other needed auto repairs. Call us today to make your next appointment!

Categories: Car Repair

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