An Anti-Lock Braking system prevents the wheel of a vehicle from locking and enhances the steering control. This safety feature was initially introduced in the 1920s by the French innovator Gabriel Voisin for aircraft. The safety feature was adapted to a commercial vehicle market in the 1970s on a large scale. Now, this safety feature is a standard in all new vehicles. The modern anti-lock braking system also facilitates traction control.
If you are looking to purchase a used vehicle you must check if it has an anti-locking braking system for a better driving experience. Car enthusiasts can also research and understand the benefits and working of the anti-lock braking system to understand its importance.
Car Safety Features: Components of Anti-Lock Braking System
An anti-lock braking system has four major components that work together to make the system effective.
- Speed Sensor: The speed of the wheel rotation is monitored by these sensors.
- Valves: These blocks, release and allow pressure on the vehicle’s brakes by assuming three different positions.
- Pump: Filled with hydraulic fluid, the pump applies pressure on the brake calipers or drums on demand.
- Controller: The controller makes use of the data it receives from the sensors to determine whether to pump the brakes or not.
How Does the Anti-Lock Braking System Work?
The system releases and then reapplies or pumps the brakes of a vehicle during a heavy braking situation. The sensors that are placed on each wheel detect when the wheel stops moving or is locking and begins to skid. Some ABS only prevent the wheels on the rear axle from locking, so car owners must check the owner’s manual to determine the extent of the ABS in the vehicle.
When the sensors detect that the wheel is locking, the anti-lock braking system pumps the brakes multiple times a second. This helps to stop the wheel from skidding and the driver to retain control of the vehicle. The system follows three stages starting from the brake pedal being pushed, to the sensors detecting the locking of the wheels and then the ABS pumping brakes to avoid skidding.
The Effectiveness of Anti-Lock Braking System
Safety features are never dubbed as the alternate of driver’s vigilance and responsibility, but they have been proven to minimize risks and accidents by facilitating motorists in distressing situations. According to a study that was conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US, nonfatal crashes have reduced to 8% amongst lightweight vehicles. Motorcycles with ABS are also less likely to be involved in fatal accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the risk has reduced to around 37%.
Attributes of Anti-Lock Braking System
The safety feature’s primary purpose is to prevent the wheels from locking, but it is not supposed to help the vehicle brake faster. The system takes effect to enable the motorist to retain control of the vehicle. Generally, a vehicle with ABS will stop faster than those without the feature but this is a secondary effect.
ABS is also effective in race cars to help the drivers corner better and minimizes excessive wear of tyres. In the event of crosswinds, heavy good vehicles and motorcycles are vulnerable but ABS brakes can be effectively applied to avoid accidents.
Limitations of Anti-Lock Braking System
The system has also been proven to reduce risk on typical roads but during extreme weather conditions such as snow, it is not so effective. The impact of ABS consequently is different on snow when the wheel locks or skids, it will build up a wedge of snow that will contribute towards stopping it and ABS will prevent the wheels from locking to begin with. The braking distance on such terrains increases.
ABS will be more of a hindrance in case of extreme weather conditions due to its limitations. If the wheels lock simultaneously, ABS will not be triggered. In case ABS fails, the driver needs to pump the brakes manually.
Also read: 10 Safety Features to Look for in a Car
Best Course of Action in case of ABS failure
In case the vehicle does not have ABS or the system fails then the driver needs to take action manually. If the wheels are locking or skidding, then slow down the vehicle before turning the steering wheel. Then take the foot off the accelerator and in case of manual transmission push the clutch. Finally, apply the brakes with maximum pressure until the wheels lock and then release the brakes. Then take off the foot from the brakes and reapply to replicate the functionality of ABS.
Anti-Lock Braking System as Traction Control
Modern vehicles have ABS that also offers traction control as they help the wheels restore the grip by slightly applying brakes. However, this functionality should not be mixed with the actual traction that shifts torque through the differential to the wheels. This will give the wheels better traction in contrast to a wheel that is spinning during acceleration.