Antilock Brakes: How To Tell If Your Vehicle Has Them And How They're Used

When you have to stop quickly, antilock brakes are an invaluable asset. Also known as ABS, these brakes help to keep your car from skidding when pressure is applied to the brake pedal. By keeping your wheels from locking, and allowing them to maintain their grip on the road, ABS provides greater control when stopping. Most new cars have ABS braking technology, but it can be difficult to tell on some vehicles. In this guide, you will learn how to tell if your car is equipped with antilock brakes.

How Can I Tell if my Vehicle has Antilock Brakes?

The easiest way to tell if your car has ABS is to ask a local brake service expert, or to consult your owner's manual. After you determine whether ABS is installed, you should learn how these brakes work. When renting a car, ask whether it has all-wheel or two-wheel ABS, as the feature makes a difference in the vehicle's ability to handle sudden stops.

When is ABS Used?

During a normal stop, you can't tell the difference between conventional and antilock brakes. ABS is only used during sudden, hard stops, and when they activate, you will feel the brake pedal vibrate. The vibration occurs as the car's brakes pulsate, and the car comes to a slow, safe stop. If you haven't used ABS before, the vibration and noise may be off-putting, but it's perfectly normal and it means that your brakes are working properly.

Using ABS on Snowy or Wet Roads

A common misconception about antilock brakes is that they dramatically decrease stopping distance and time. ABS and conventional brakes are comparable in this respect; the primary advantage of ABS is that it provides greater vehicle control during sudden stops. On a dry road, antilock brakes may cut the stopping distance very slightly, but the difference will barely be noticeable. However, on wet roads, ABS can increase your stopping distance - but you will still have more control of your car. As always, you should practice defensive driving, and go slower when driving conditions are poor.

Getting Off to a Great Start (and Stop)

While antilock brakes don't substantially decrease stopping time, they do provide greater navigational control and handling. Without ABS, your car will skid if you stop suddenly - and your ability to avoid a crash will be reduced. Once your ABS activates, you can still turn to avoid obstacles, but you should do so gradually. If you aren't sure how these brakes work, an automotive brake service expert can offer help and information about this important safety feature.

For more information, contact Fleet Services or a similar company.