The 101 On Your ABS: Understanding And Maintaining Your Anti-Lock Braking System

Posted on: 22 September 2015

Owning and operating a vehicle can be stressful. From the initial purchase and insurance costs to the necessary maintenance and automotive repairs, the overwhelming nature of owning a car, truck, or SUV is easy to see. Considering your brakes are an imperative aspect of your vehicle's operation, ensuring they are in proper working condition is key to your safety. Unfortunately, you may not understand how your vehicle's ABS, or Anti-lock Braking System, works. Using this guide, you will be able to understand, utilize, and maintain your vehicle's ABS.

The 101 on Anti-Lock Brakes

With traditional brakes, you need to pump your brake pedal to safely stop the vehicle unexpectedly. Even while pumping the brakes, your brakes may lock up, causing you to lose control of your vehicle and having an accident. However, an anti-lock braking system allows you to stop quickly and unexpectedly without skidding or losing control of the vehicle. The system uses a computerized system of sensors and electronic controls to automatically pump the brakes while keeping your foot firmly on the pedal. This allows you to remain in control of your vehicle.

An ABS is a great option when stopping on wet, slippery roads. In addition, it is also beneficial for braking in an emergency such as stopping the vehicle to avoid a danger in the road.

Servicing your ABS

Regular maintenance on your vehicle is essential to protect its operation, appeal, and value. To service on your ABS, consider the following tips:

  • Check Fluid Levels – Check the levels of your brake fluid since your ABS regulates fluid levels to maintain braking performance. If the reservoir is low, add more brake fluid. Without refilling your brake fluid, your brake pads and rotors may weaken.
  • Check Brake Pads – Pad replacement is a requirement at some point in time, but the exact time to replace your pads will depend on your vehicle's specific make and model. Check your owner's manual for a recommended time to complete a pad replacement. However, if you hear squealing or whining when applying your brakes, you most likely need to replace the pads.
  • Check Brake Rotors – Attached directly to your wheels and braking system, the rotors act as a protective cushion for your wheels and brakes. Over time, the pressure of braking causes friction, wearing down the rotors and decreasing the success of your braking system. If your rotors appear worn, consider replacing or resurfacing them to protect the working operation of your brakes.

ABS Driving Tips

Regular maintenance is smart for prolonging the life of your brake pads and rotors, but safe driving can also help maintain your ABS. Here are a few tips to improve your driving safety and protect your anti-lock braking system:

  • Drive at a Safe Speed and Distance – While surprising to hear, driving 60 MPH causes your vehicle to travel an estimated 88 feet per second. To completely stop your vehicle at this speed, you will need approximately 4.5 seconds. To ensure you have adequate time to brake and stop the vehicle, drive at a safe speed and allow ample distance between you and other vehicles on the road.
  • Pay Attention to the Weather and Road Conditions – Your ABS is a safer option when driving and stopping on damp, icy, and slippery roads, but you should still use precaution. Allow yourself extra time and space for stopping while driving in these weather conditions.
  • Maintain your Tires – The quality of your tires also affects your braking time. Check your tire tread using the penny method. Place a penny in between the tread of your tires. Be sure Lincoln's head faces down into the tread. If part of Lincoln's head is covered by the tread, your tires are safe for driving.

Your vehicle is most likely an essential part of your daily life, so proper maintenance is important. Using this guide on the ABS, you can drive and stop in a safe, successful manner.