Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. How Anti-Lock Brakes Work

How Anti-Lock Brakes Work

How Anti-Lock Brakes Work

An anti-lock brake system (ABS) is a braking system that is made to allow a vehicle to maintain traction with the road when braking. Braking is controlled by driver input via the brake pedal, and older braking systems response to a driver braking suddenly or with intense pressure was sometimes to lock up or skid. The ABS is meant to prevent the wheels from locking up or from unnecessary skidding while braking. The automated system uses the principles of both cadence and threshold braking, which were previously practiced by skilled drivers with early generation braking systems. Modern ABS accomplishes these principles with better control and much faster than a driver could.

Today's anti-lock braking system gives the driver better vehicle control and reduces stopping distances on slippery and dry surfaces. However, on loose gravel and snow, anti-lock brakes can increase stopping distance, though the improved vehicle control remains the same.

Components of the ABS

  • Speed sensors: Speed sensors are also called wheel sensors or wheel speed sensors. This part uses a magnet and a wire to generate a signal that is sent to the sensor.

  • Valves: Each brake controlled by the ABS has a brake line and a valve. The valve has three positions, controlling the amount of pressure exerted on each brake, to minimize wheel lock or skidding.

  • Pump: This piece of the system is used to restore pressure to the brakes after the valve has released the pressure. As the pressure applied by the driver decreases, the pump will help to equalize the pressure in the brake lines.

  • Controller: An Electronic Control Unit (ECU) receives the information from the wheel speed sensor and uses that information to perform the task of applying the brakes with the proper amount of pressure needed.   

These pieces work together to keep proper pressure in the brake lines to help stop a vehicle from skidding or experiencing wheel lock when trying to stop suddenly or in bad weather.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in Idaho
The state of Idaho offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch in the...
Auto Safety Tips
Driving is more than a way to get from point A to point B. Owning and driving a car can also be a highly enjoyable experience. Whether a person is driving...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...


Related questions

Q: How do I adjust the throttle and brake pedal positions?

Some vehicle models are equipped with a feature that allows you to alter the position of your throttle and brake pedals. Please note, the following adjustments cannot be made while the vehicle is in reverse or using the cruise control...

Q: the light comes on which says ABS Off. How do I turn it back on?

Hello, thank you for writing in. Without knowing the make and model of your vehicle, it is difficult to say what the issue may be. Every vehicle is set up a little differently. If the ABS system has a switch...

Q: Brake light malfunction and ABS light has been on for months.

Check the brake light switch on the brake pedal and see if its loose on the contact pin. If the pin feels loose, then the switch needs replaced. For the ABS light to be on, there could be an issue...