What you should know about ... Anti-lock Braking System: ABS ... What is it?

ABS ... What is it?

ABS is an abbreviation for Anti-lock Braking System. It was designed to help the driver maintain some steering ability and avoid skidding while braking.

ABS was introduced in the mid -1980s and has become "standard" equipment on the majority of vehicles sold in Canada. ABS in cars and most multi-purpose vehicles (MPV’s) and pick-up trucks works on all four wheels. This promotes directional stability and allows steering while maximizing braking.

Controlled braking
Control under heavy braking
ABS allows you to maintain control of the vehicle. Since four-wheel ABS prevents all wheels from skidding, it allows you to steer the vehicle and still maintain braking.

How does it work?

ABS uses wheel speed sensors to determine if one or more wheels are trying to lock up during braking. If a wheel tries to lock up, a series of hydraulic valves limit or reduce the braking on that wheel. This prevents skidding and allows you to maintain steering control.

Why do I want or need this?

In a recent Canadian Automobile Association survey of some 1700 members, 66% correctly associated ABS with vehicle stability in an emergency, and 53% correctly stated that ABS allows the driver to steer while braking.

Since the ABS will not allow the tire to stop rotating, you can brake and steer at the same time. The braking and steering ability of the vehicle is limited by the amount of traction the tire can generate.

If you demand steering while braking, the 100% of traction that the tire can generate will be divided between both tasks. For example, if you require 50% for steering then there is 50% of available traction left for braking. If you require 10% for steering then there is 90% left for braking. Be aware that 100% traction on a dry road is a great deal more traction than 100% traction on ice! Therefore, your vehicle is unable to steer and brake as well on a slippery surface as it can on a dry road.

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