How Do I Use Anti-Lock Brakes?

If you’ve ever felt your brakes pulse slightly when you engage them in wet or icy weather, you’ve witnessed your vehicle’s anti-lock brake system (ABS) in action. This rapid sensation means the ABS actuator has stepped in to prevent a skid. As such, this safety feature lets you maintain control of your car in slippery conditions, helping prevent loss of control or collision.

How Anti-Lock Brakes Work

Your ABS senses wheel motion, activating if it picks up on skid conditions after you press down on the brake pedal. The system’s actuators can pump the brakes at rapid speeds (up to 100 beats per second), outmatching a manual pumping of the brake during a panicked stop situation.

This rapid succession of pumps prevents the wheel from locking, allowing tires to sustain traction and avoid a skid–a situation in which wheels lock and slide freely over slippery surfaces. When a car skids, it can be difficult to control the vehicle, creating many dangerous possibilities.

How to Best Use Anti-Lock Brakes

  • If you drive cautiously but assertively, your ABS should function properly. Meaning, calmly depressing the brake pedal when you need to stop is all it takes to effectively activate this system.
  • Since the ABS pulsates, avoid pumping the brakes.
  • When you notice slick conditions, make sure to allow more distance before a stop.
  • Don’t forget to steer, as the ABS controls the tires and not the steering wheel. However, avoid extreme steering movements when the ABS is engaged.
  • Expect a little noise and vibration when the ABS activates and don’t panic. Staying calm on wet or icy roads keeps you safe.
  • To familiarize yourself with the feel of ABS, you can practice emergency stops in a large, unused parking lot. This process can get you used to the rapid pulsations of the system, making you more comfortable during real-life hazardous conditions.
  • If you want more information about the system in your vehicle, the owner’s manual should have additional driving instructions available.

Can Anti-Lock Brakes Fail?

With a built-in safety feature that causes the ABS to turn off if any component malfunctions, your brakes should work normally in lieu of the anti-lock system. This means, however, that if ABS stops working and you have trouble stopping in extreme conditions, you should pump the brakes manually to stop safely.

Remember, for all your vehicle’s maintenance and repair needs, call Checkpoint Motors in Oregon City and schedule an appointment today!

Image Credit: zenstock /

Accessibility Toolbar