Anti-Lock Brake Systems: How Do They Work?

Most cars come with anti-lock brake systems; however, few people actually understand how these innovative safety systems work. Helping to stop you in a hurry without locking your brakes up, ABS is one of the most important developments in recent automotive history.

According to How Stuff Works, anti-lock brakes are composed of speed sensors, a pump, valves, and a controller. Although locking your brakes might sound good at first, this causes your wheels to stop spinning, forcing your car to slide forward. By pulsing the brakes at an incredible rate, you can actually slow down faster.

Here’s how it works:

  • Speed Sensors determine when your wheels are about to lock.
  • Valves open pressure from the master cylinder, causing the brake to work.
  • A pump reduces and reapplies pressure to the brakes, causing them to pulse.
  • A controller is the computer component, carefully measuring each aspect of the process.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has performed several tests to prove that anti-lock brakes, when used properly, do reduce the stopping distance. That’s why most modern cars come with ABS – if your car doesn’t, think twice about buying.

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