Why is the Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) So Important?

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Have you ever slammed on your brakes and felt your wheels lock up? It can be a scary experience, especially if the road is slick or covered with gravel. Steering can be next to impossible. This is the exact reason anti-lock brake systems were created: to help you maintain control in extreme stopping conditions.

How Do Anti-Lock Brake Systems Work?

When your wheels lock up, you lose control of your vehicle. The ABS keeps your brakes from locking, which helps you maintain the ability to steer. There are sensors on each wheel equipped with ABS; these monitor the wheel speed and compare that with the vehicle speed sensors. If you’re pressing on the brakes and the wheels aren’t turning—and the car is still traveling forward—the ABS system kicks in and modulates the brakes.

The ABS will quickly “pump” the brakes, which allows the vehicle to stop without the wheels locking up. This is all don’t automatically. You’ll feel a pulsation through the brake pedal and hear a clunking as the brakes are being rapidly applied and let off. The first time it happens can be surprising; you might think there’s something wrong. Just keep your foot on the brake and allow the ABS to do its thing. Keep the three S’s in mind: Stomp, Stay, Steer. Stomp on the brakes, keep the pedal down, and steer as needed.

How to Know When Your Anti-Lock Brake System Needs to Be Serviced

When you first start your vehicle, the ABS will do a quick self-check to ensure the system is functioning as it should. You’ll see the ABS warning light illuminate briefly along with the other dashboard warning lights. If the system detects a fault, the ABS light will come on and stay on, and you’ll need to schedule an appointment to have the system checked.

If the ABS warning light doesn’t come on for some reason, there are some other signs the system needs to be inspected:

  • The brake pedal is unresponsive
  • You feel like you need to apply more pressure than normal to get your vehicle to stop
  • Your brakes lock up with you press the brake pedal
  • In rare cases, the speedometer may read the wrong speed or stop working

Your anti-lock brake system is an important safety feature that can help you avoid accidents when you need to stop suddenly—it also helps you maintain control when you’re on a slippery roadway. To keep your ABS in good shape, it’s important to have it serviced from time to time. Replacing brake fluid that’s depleted and/or contaminated will ensure your ABS works properly and protect it against corrosion. If it’s been a while since your ABS has been serviced, ask your service advisor about it at your next appointment.

At EuroCar Service, our highly experienced ASE-certified technicians are always here to help keep your vehicle in peak condition. If you have any questions about the anti-lock brake system in your car, or would like to schedule an appointment, contact us online or give us a call at (206) 527-8828. We see all European vehicles, including Audi, Fiat, BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes, Mini Cooper, Saab, Jaguar, Volkswagen, Volvo, and Smart Car.