Understanding Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
These days, most cars come with ABS as a standard feature. This makes driving easier and safer in tight situations and on slippery roads. Understanding the basics of ABS and its maintenance will help you get the most out of this important safety enhancement.
ABS – How Does It Help You?
Roads are full of surprises. When you are cruising at speed, you may not see danger until it’s too late. If you have to stop or slow down suddenly, the immediate reaction is to slam hard on the brakes. Unfortunately, this instinctive reaction may actually make you lose control and make things more difficult.
When you brake hard at high speed, the wheels may lock up and stop rotating resulting in a loss of traction. The forward momentum of your vehicle will still take you forward resulting in a skid. If you have ever been in a skid, you know that the steering is pretty much useless at that point and the vehicle becomes uncontrollable. Chances are that you will hit the obstacle that you tried hard to avoid.
The only way to avoid the skid is to release pressure on the brakes so that the wheels start rotating again. This is difficult as there is no time to think and our instinct is to keep the brake engaged. This is where the ABS comes to your rescue.
The ABS detects wheel locks, automatically intervenes to unlock your wheels and gives you the necessary traction to stay in control. When it works correctly, the ABS improves control while braking and reduces the braking distance. ABS has come a long way since its introduction. Newer versions control the front-to-rear brake bias electronically and have added stability control systems. Together, they improve control while cornering and the overall handling of the vehicle.
The Working Of The ABS
In cars equipped with ABS, a sensor is installed on each wheel to detect wheel locks. These sensors are connected to a computer, which actuates valves to release the brakes slightly on the affected wheels. Although this is for a split second, it allows the wheels to rotate again. This happens several times a second until you release the brakes or the vehicle comes to a complete stop.
It’s important to understand that the ABS is an enhancement to the conventional braking system. For it to work well, your brakes should be in good condition.
The system does a self-test each time you switch on the ignition. If a sensor or other component fails the test, the ABS warning indicator lights up on your dashboard. This warns you that the system may not reliable. You can still use the car, but drive carefully, especially in slippery road conditions because controlling the vehicle can become more difficult than usual. Sometimes, the self test can fail due to minor transient problems. Just switch off the car, start it again and check if the ABS warning lights up.
Maintaining the ABS
The ABS is a safety enhancer. It is not meant to facilitate rash driving. Drive carefully, maintain the right distance and limit your speed according to road conditions. The less the ABS system comes into play, less the wear and tear. With minimal use, the system will last longer. If the dash indicator lights up often for no apparent reason, get your car checked. It could mean that the system is engaging when it shouldn’t.
Ensure that your brakes are regularly checked and serviced at periodic intervals, preferably during routine service. Get the ABS checked if you notice any deterioration in its performance. With use and age, the sensors may need recalibration. They can also get dusty or metal debris can get stuck on their magnetic parts causing them to malfunction. Getting the system serviced will solve the problem.
Valves of the ABS can malfunction if the brake fluid absorbs too much moisture. Fixing this requires a change of brake fluid. The ABS on your car is very reliable if the brake fluid is changed at regular intervals. Without proper maintenance, the system will not work well and the life of its components will reduce. The electronics and other components of the system are expensive to replace. So, regular maintenance makes sense.
Contact us if you are looking for car brake service in the Manchester area or if it’s time to get your car serviced. We will arrange your service through one of our garages in Oldham or Bury for an appointment or complete the short form below. You will get the benefit of excellent service quality, competitive rates and convenient pick up options.