Understanding And Maintaining Your Car's Anti-Lock Braking System

Owning and operating a vehicle can be challenging. From the cost to purchase and filling it with gasoline to rotating tires and changing the oil, it is easy to see how it can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, you may not be placing enough time and effort into your car's brakes. Considering your braking system is an imperative part of operating your car in a safe manner, proper understanding and maintenance is essential. Using this guide, you will understand your car's anti-lock brakes and learn the best techniques to maintain this important system.

Understanding the ABS

If you drove a car with a traditional braking system, you would need to pump the brake pedal to stop quickly. In an emergency situation, having to pump the brakes to stop may cause you to lose control of your car, resulting in a dangerous accident.

An anti-lock braking system allows you to stop your car quickly without the worry of skidding and losing control. The ABS's computer automatically pumps the brakes while your foot is on the pedal. This reduces the risk of accidents if you need to stop in an emergency.

While surprising to learn, not all vehicles are equipped with an anti-lock braking system. In the past, an ABS was optional in vehicles. However, it became a standard piece of equipment on most economy and family vehicles in 1991 to 1992.

ABS-Driving Tips

Operating your car properly will keep you and others on the road safe, but it will also help prolong the life of your anti-lock brakes.

To prevent any occasions where you would need to slam on your brakes, you should drive at a safe speed and distance. The faster you are driving, the more time you will need to stop your car safely.

If you are driving at 60 mph, you will need approximately 268 feet to stop your car.  Be sure to leave sufficient space between you and other vehicles to ensure you are able to stop without causing an accident. If roads are slick from rain, sleet, or snow, stopping your car will be even more challenging. To avoid slipping, sliding, and accidents, decrease your speed and increase the distance between you and other cars.

Ensuring your tires are in good condition is also smart for safely operating your car with an anti-lock braking system. If tread is worn or you lack sufficient air pressure, your tires will be unable to grip the road, decreasing the ability of your anti-lock braking system.

ABS-Maintenance Tips

Maintaining your anti-lock braking system is also necessary for keeping you safe and your car in good condition, but you may not know where to begin. Thankfully, the following tips can help you maintain your car's ABS:

  • Brake Fluid – Over time, moisture and contaminants can build up inside the brake fluid reservoir, causing the fluid to boil. If the fluid boils, the brake pads and rotors will become excessively hot, which may lead to complete brake failure. To prevent brake failure, experts recommend replacing brake fluid every one or two years.
  • Brake Pads – Pads act as a cushion between the calipers and the rotors. If they become worn, pressing on the brake pedal will cause metal on metal contact, which decreases your car's ability to stop efficiently. If you hear squealing, whining, grinding, or other loud noises when pressing your brake pedal to stop the car, you most likely need new brake pads.
  • Brake Rotors –Connected to the wheel hubs, the brake rotors experience a great deal of friction when braking. This friction wears down the rotors, decreasing your car's ability to stop. If your car seems to vibrate when stopping or you notice a blue discoloration on the rotor's surface, you need to replace your brake rotors.

The anti-lock braking system is an effective and efficient element to your car's operation, but proper understanding is necessary. With this guide, you will understand how to use and maintain your ABS. For more information, contact an auto shop like Godfrey Brake Service & Supply.