Tips & Tricks

What is ABS in Simple Words

Laws in some countries require using an anti-lock braking system (ABS) in vehicles. How does it work?

After seat belts, the anti-lock braking system (ABS) is one of the most important safety features. It became mandatory in 2004, but has been installed on some cars since the 1960s.

Why is the anti-lock braking system so important?

The vehicle’s only contact with the road is four small sections of rubber tires. If one or all of them lose traction, the car starts to slip and the driver risks losing control. There are several reasons for this, the main one is heavy braking.

In an emergency, an inexperienced driver instinctively presses the brake pedal, forcing the vehicle to slide, get out of control and stop longer. To counteract such effects, ABS was invented.

The system automatically prevents the wheels from locking during heavy braking, helps to restore effective braking and steering. As a result, the driver can slow down and drive at the same time, thus maintaining control of the car and avoiding an accident.

How does ABS work?

The ABS system uses sensors to monitor the speed of each wheel. If, when the driver is hitting the brake, the system feels that one or more wheels are suddenly slowing down and at risk of slipping, it automatically releases the brake so that the wheel continues to turn before slowing down. It performs this operation up to 15 times per second (an action that can be felt as a pulse in the brake pedal) to provide or restore effective braking and steering.

How to find out if ABS works on your car?

When it works, it feels like a pulsating movement through the brake pedal. As systems become more complex, they become less perceptible. Under normal driving, it rarely works. This is more common on wet, slippery roads. If there are problems with the system, a warning signal appears on the vehicle’s dashboard.

If the ABS is activated while driving, the indicator flashes instantly – a warning that the tires have lost traction and the system has tripped. The indicator goes out as soon as the traction is restored. If it is lit all the time, it may mean that there is a malfunction of the ABS, and you need to check at the service station.

It is difficult to overestimate the number of lives saved by the anti-lock brake system.

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