How Do Anti-Lock Brakes Work?
In the past, millions of traffic accidents occurred partly due to drivers’ inability to stop their cars before colliding. The reason this happened was because people would slam their brake pedal down, causing their wheels to lock up. This would, in turn, cause them to lose steering control. Even in the best circumstances, vehicles would skid across the road into each other. In rainy weather, when the roads are especially slippery, the locking of the wheels made the problem worse. That’s why anti-lock brake systems (ABS) were developed.
Components Of An ABS
Anti-lock brake systems are comprised of a controller, valve, speed sensors, and a pump. The purpose of the speed sensors is to identify the point at which the wheels are about to lock. Each wheel usually has its own sensor which alerts the controller about a potential locking event. The controller is a computer that continuously monitors the sensors and the valves in each brake’s line. Depending on the potential for locking and the pressure in the brake lines, the controller can automatically flip the position of the valves. Finally, the pump applies pressure to the brake lines to compensate for it being released by the controller.
How They Work
Each car manufacturer calibrates their ABS systems according to proprietary algorithms. As a result, each works a little differently than others. Typically, a controller which monitor the wheels’ sensors are looking for reductions in speed that it considers abnormal. When a wheel locks up, its change in speed is identified and the controller responds by flipping the valve. It does this to either block the master cylinder’s pressure on the corresponding brake or to cause the valve to release built-up pressure.
This process prevents the wheel from becoming locked. Once the wheel gains speed that is more consistent with the system’s algorithm, the controller will allow the pressure to increase on the brake line to slow the vehicle. The entire process happens quickly, helping the driver to maintain steering control without skidding.
Leveraging Your Car’s Anti-Lock Brakes
Motorists often pump their brake pedal to prevent their car from skidding. Years ago, before vehicles were designed with anti-lock brakes, this was an effective way for drivers to maintain control. However ABS systems preclude the need to do this. Instead, during emergencies, drivers should press the brake pedal firmly and allow the ABS to do its job.
The development of anti-lock brakes was revolutionary for the car industry. It has saved countless lives and helped millions of drivers avoid serious accidents. Make sure that the ABS system in your car is well-maintained. Ask your mechanic to flush the brake fluid from the system periodically to keep it working properly.