Antilock Braking System

Car crashes are sometimes caused by brake and steering failure. As a car safety feature , antilock braking systems were conceptualized. Skidding and steering control problems would be reduced during emergency because of the development of antilock braking systems.

Antilock Braking System (ABS) was introduced in the middle of the 1980s and became a standard car safety requirement for many vehicles sold in Canada. The system is specifically used in many cars and multi-purpose vehicles or MPVs. Most pick-up trucks have ABS on rear wheels only but nowadays, other modern cars have ABS on four wheels. ABS helps maintain directional stability and maximize braking even when steering the wheels.

Antilock brake features

The antilock braking system includes a brake pedal, a master cylinder, wheel speed sensors, an electronic control unit or ECU, and a hydraulic control unit, also called a hydraulic modulator.

How does the whole system works? A notched rotor rotates with each wheel and a pick-up is  attached to the wheel speed sensor. Then a small voltage pulse is stimulated into the pick up which sends signal to the electronic control unit. When brakes are applied, there will be a signal sent to the ECU to change the speed rotation of the wheel.

When the ECU senses that a wheel might be locked, it then transmits a signal to the hydraulic control unit. If it’s a three-channel system, the hydraulic control unit has a three solenoid valves in controlling brake pressure and preventing them from locking.

The valves are designed in series with the brake master cylinder and the brake circuits. One valve works for each wheel in the front while one controls the rear wheels. There is nothing to worry about brake failure because the ABS automatically checks itself before any journey so if something is wrong, a warning sign is registered on the dash panel.

But according to a US study, even with antilock braking systems, most cars are still prone to crashes than those without them. The study found that it’s not the technology or application that will reduce fatal car accidents; it is the driver’s poor driving habit and awareness on how to operate the ABS.

Safe driving with ABS

Here is a list on how to effectively drive a car with ABS.

  • When in an emergency, step on the brakes harder and stay on them.
  • Don’t panic by pumping the brakes. Pumping the brakes will make ABS ineffective.
  • ABS is not designed to stop the vehicle under emergency conditions but to maintain steering control while braking. In this case, veering around any obstacle becomes less difficult.
  • The best thing to do is when avoiding obstacles, remember to veer to the right so you can prevent getting hit or hitting oncoming traffic.
  • Overconfidence will get you nowhere. Drive cautiously even when your car has antilock braking systems.