Drivers use their brakes to safely slow and stop their vehicles. You’ve probably had the experience where you’ve slammed on your brakes and started to skid. When your wheels are locked up, you are just sliding over the road. And if the road is wet or slick or covered with gravel – you really get out of control. Steering is next to impossible. That is why anti-lock brake systems (ABS) were invented: to help you maintain control in extreme stopping conditions on roads.
As mentioned, when wheels lock up, this affects your control. ABS keeps your brakes from locking – helping you stop while maintaining your ability to steer. Sensors on each wheel equipped with ABS, monitor wheel spin and compare it with vehicle speed sensors. When drivers are pressing on the brakes, still traveling forward, but the wheels are not turning, the ABS system steps in and modulates the brakes.
The ABS “pumps” the brakes, not allowing the wheels to lock-up while still applying braking pressure. This is all done automatically without any intervention on your part. You will feel a pulsation through the brake pedal and will hear a clunking as the brakes are rapidly being applied and let off over and over again. The first time this happens to you, you may be surprised and think something is wrong. Well, it isn’t – so just keep your foot on the brake and allow the ABS to do its thing. In fact, remember the 3 S’s of anti-lock brakes: Stomp, Stay, & Steer. Stomp on the brakes, keep the pedal down, and steer.
When you first start your vehicle, the ABS does a quick self-check to make sure everything is OK. The ABS warning light will briefly illuminate with all of the other warning lights on your dashboard and then go out. If the system detects a fault, the ABS light will come on and stay on. You should definitely bring your vehicle in to Sampson’s Automotive in for a check if the ABS warning light is on.
Proper brake system service is the best way to protect your ABS. Replacing brake fluid that is depleted and/or contaminated will help preserve proper ABS operation and protect it against corrosion. Visit the friendly and knowledgeable Sampson’s Automotive staff to see if it’s time for an inspection of your braking system.