We rely on our brakes to safely slow and stop our vehicles. You’ve probably had the experience where you’ve slammed on your brakes and started to skid. When your wheels are locked up, the vehicle is sliding over the road. If the road is wet, slick or covered with gravel, it is easy for the vehicle to get out of control and steering to become impossible.
For Years, drivers were taught to pump the brakes when they felt their vehicle steering into a skid. Today, Anti-lock brake systems (ABS) automate the brake pumping process to help maintain control in these extreme stopping conditions.
ABS helps prevent wheels from locking up to allow the driver to steer to safety. Sensors on each wheel equipped with ABS monitor wheel spin and compare it with vehicle speed sensors. If wheel lock is detected, a sensor sends a message to a controller that releases and applies the brake. The ABS quickly “pumps” the brakes, not allowing the wheels to lock-up while still applying braking pressure. This is all done automatically without any intervention on the drivers’ 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 repeatedly.
The first time this happens, you may be surprised and think something is wrong. It isn’t! Keep your foot on the brake and remember the 3 S’s of anti-lock brakes: Stomp, Stay, & Steer. Stomp on the brakes, keep the pedal down, and steer as needed.
The ABS warning light will briefly illuminate with all the other warning lights on your dashboard when you first start your vehicle as a system check. If the system detects a fault, the ABS light will come on and stay on. Take your vehicle 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. Ask your service advisor if it’s time for a braking system inspection or service.
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Old Town Auto Service
Revised from content contributed by NAPA Service Assistant