How the ABS Controller Makes Driving Safer

Up until the 1960’s all braking systems in cars were entirely controlled by the driver. The amount of pressure that was placed on the brake pedal was directed to all of the brakes equally and the car came to a stop. Even though this worked fine for normal driving, it posed a serious threat of skidding on wet and icy roads. The Anti-lock Breaking System (ABS) was developed to help reduce this skidding in cars by gently pulsing the pressure put on the breaks to allow the tires to regain their traction. This entire system is coordinated by the ABS controller and is standard equipment on most cars sold today.

How Does ABS Help to Prevent a Skid?

The ABS includes a series of sensors to monitor the tire rotation, a collection of valves to regulate the pressure to each wheel’s brakes and a controller to coordinate everything. The controller is a specialized computer that is constantly monitoring the speed of all the tires. When it detects a condition where one tire is decelerating too quickly it pulses the valve to the brakes in that tire through an electrical relay. By varying the pressure applied to the brakes it allows the tire to regain its traction with the surface of the road and stop the skid. This controller will do this automatically and is very effective in preventing brakes from locking up in a skidding situation.

Does It Really Help?

Anti-lock brakes were first introduced to luxury vehicles in the early 1970’s and proved so effective in preventing skidding that every car manufacturer as standard equipment eventually adopted them. This system can help prevent accidents on wet and icy roads by intervening when a driver reacts to a skid by pushing down hard on the brake pedal. The ABS controller is engineered to detect a skidding car and is very effective in helping the wheels regain their traction. By pulsing the pressure to the affect wheel, the system will allow that wheel to rotate slightly and improve it traction enough to stop the skid. This all happens so quickly that most drivers never realize that they were heading into a dangerous skid.

Do Anti-lock Brakes Help a Car Stop Quicker?

Yes, moderns systems have become so precise in the amount of pressure they deliver to a skidding wheel that they can improve braking distances substantially. They also help drivers avoid more crashes on wet and icy roads by allowing them to maintain traction and steer around a potential accident. Because this system is electrical in nature, it can react to a skidding condition well before the driver has a chance to make the adjustment. These systems are so effective in preventing these dangerous conditions that most drivers won’t even realize that their car had lost traction with the road. Their assistance is immediate and very effective for even the most severe of road conditions. The controller can quickly react to even the slightest skid and help the wheels regain their traction immediately.

What If the ABS Controller Fails?

Because the ABS is an enhancement to a cars braking system, the vehicle will still be able to stop normally if a controller fails. Most cars will indicate a problem with the system by illuminating a warning light on the dashboard. This light should be a warning to the driver that the ABS system is no longer working and that their braking will be affected. While this electrical indicator is not a cause for immediate concern, the car should be serviced as soon as possible to repair the problem. This type of repair is a fairly simple procedure that can be done by most auto repair centers.

Is Replacing an ABS expensive?

While the cost for any auto repair can vary wildly based on the model and age of a car, an ABS failure can be a fairly reasonably priced service. Before any work is started, a qualified technician will connect an OBD diagnostic tool to your vehicle and read the series of codes that led to the ABS light on your dashboard being lit. These codes will identify the failed component that needs to be replaced. Since there are a number of different parts that make up the anti-lock braking system in a car, the repair could be as simple as changing a defective sensor. Even in cases where the ABS controller itself needs replacing, the auto repair is generally an easy and inexpensive event for most drivers when compared to other failures.

With anti-lock brakes becoming standard equipment on modern cars, drivers are safer than ever before. These systems can expertly avoid the hazard of skids on wet and icy roads automatically. By quickly detecting a problem and automatically adjusting the braking profile of the car, the ABS will help avoid an accident. Most drivers don’t even know these safeguards are working in the background when they drive but benefit everyday from the advancements made with anti-lock brakes.