Almost any vehicle manufactured these days has a 4 wheel anti-lock braking system commonly known as
ABS or anti lock brakes but what is it? Before I explain anti lock brakes and the benefits I'll give a brief
explanation into the stopping of a vehicle.
Your brakes alone doesn't always stop the vehicle. The brakes
usually do a good job in stopping the wheels from rotating but there is still a mass of metal
with a momentum pushing forward sometimes at a high speed. Your
suspension assists in holding the mass of metal as it connects the body of the vehicle to
the now stationary wheels.
Movement of a vehicle when the wheels are locked or stationary is known as skidding and
this is what anti lock brakes is supposed to prevent. ABS monitors the rotation of each wheel during braking
and any wheel that locks or is about to lock the system reduces the braking force and re-applies
it at a rate of several times per second. If all 4 wheels are about to lock which is often the
case the system will do the same for the 4 wheels.
If you're still confused this is the system pumping the brakes far more effectively than a human could
so in emergency braking don't try to pump the brakes yourself if your vehicle has anti lock brakes.
Anti lock brakes allows you to steer around obstacles if you can't stop in time as a skidding vehicle can't
be properly steered.
ABS also allows you to have more control of your vehicle in adverse conditions such as ice, mud and gravel.
It also prevents excessive tire damage as skidding damages your tires and and if you apply the brakes hard constantly
and skid alot it can severly reduce the lifespan of your tires.
There are two categories of anti lock brakes, the mechanical and electrical anti lock brakes. Both types use
information from sensors to determine when a wheel is about to or has locked but the electrical ABS also uses an
ECU to operate the ABS on whichever wheel that needs it.
Electrical ABS is used in high end vehicles and is becomming popular in regular vehicles as well. Other safety
features such as electronic brake-force distribution can be
easily integrated into the brakes with electronic ABS.
if you're pressing the brake pedal and you get a pulsation in the brake pedal,it is an indication that the
anti lock brakes is working. You may also hear a sound but you should not ease your foot from the brake pedal as you
will disengage the ABS. The sensors only work when the brake pedal is right down because if it is pressed halfway down
it would mean that you could get more braking power if you want to.
As with any other system, it's effectiveness will depend on good tires, good working calipers and brake pads.
Anti lock brakes are an addition to the regular brakes so should ABS malfunction which it very rarely does the brakes
should work as regular with the same effectiveness as it would have if it wasn't installed with ABS.