ABS was designed to help the driver maintain some steering ability and avoid skidding while braking. It was introduced in the mid - 1980s and has become "standard" equipment on the majority of vehicles sold in Australia. It works on all four wheels which promotes directional stability and allows steering while maximizing 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 the driver to maintain steering control.
When the ABS system is in operation you will feel a pulsing in the brake pedal which comes from the rapid opening and closing of the valves. Some ABS sytems can cycle up to 15 times per second.
You SHOULD NOT pump the brake pedal in a car with ABS. Pumping the brakes is a technique sometimes used to allow the wheels to unlock so that the vehicle stays somewhat straight during a stop. However, in a car with ABS the wheel should never lock in the first place, so pumping the brakes will just make you take longer to stop.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
In an emergency stop in a car with ABS, you should apply the brake pedal firmly and hold it while the ABS does all the work. You will feel a pulsing in the pedal that may be quite violeny, but this is normal so don't let off the brake.
DO ANTI-LOCK BRAKES ACTUALLY WORK?
Yes, they really do help you stop better. They prevent wheels from locking up and provide the shortest stopping distance on slippery surfaces. ABS allows a driver to slam on the brakes with full force and let the electronics sort out exactly how and where to apply the braking pressure.