Fairfax Auto Repair

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ABS Brakes and Your Car!

The summer is finally winding down and here at FAR we’re preparing ourselves for fall and autumn weather! One thing you may hear mentioned a lot during the fall/winter season are ABS or Anti-Lock Brakes, which is a special type of braking systems in newer cars that prevent the driver from skidding on slippery road surfaces. If you’ve ever hit a patch of black ice or dealt with extremely slick roads during the rain, you may want to thank your ABS brakes for keeping you from spinning out. By preventing your car from skidding as you decrease your speed when approaching slippery conditions, ABS brakes help you slow down faster, while still maintaining control of the vehicle.

The components of the ABS system include a speed sensor, a controller, a valve to release pressure and pump to replace it. The controller monitors the speed sensors and checks for unusual decelerations in the wheel. Typically, before a wheel locks up, it will decelerate rapidly, sometimes even coming to a complete halt in less than a second. Since the ABS controller knows this is not how the wheel is supposed to function, it will release wheel pressure via the valve that is connected to the brake line until it sees acceleration. Once this happens, there’s an increase in pressure through the pump until it sees the deceleration again. This is done so that the tires can slow down at the same rate as the car, giving the ABS system maximum braking power.

It’s important to never pump the brake pedal in a car with ABS. While pumping the brakes ­is commonly used to unlock the wheels so that the vehicle comes to a straight stop, in ABS systems your wheels won’t lock. Pumping the brakes only creates more pressure on the wheels, and will actually take longer to stop or make it more difficult to steer. If your car begins to skid and you have ABS, apply brake pedal firmly and hold it while the system does its job. You will typically feel a pulsing in the pedal that could be anywhere from moderate to intense, but it’s important to keep your foot steady on the pedal and steer. For more questions about ABS systems, or to have your system inspected, give us a call or schedule an appointment today!