What are anti-lock brakes?

In the cold weather, on particularly wet days or in emergencies, we might need to slam on the brakes with not much warning. In these situations, your vehicle's wheels may lock up - causing you to lose traction and control. In some cases, this may even cause your vehicle to spin.

An anti-lock brake system (ABS) prevents your wheels from locking, allowing you to keep the control necessary to avoid any hazards when braking. In other words, ABS allows you to steer while skidding.

How do anti-lock brakes work?

Anti-lock braking systems work as a pumping mechanism - when you slam down hard on the brakes, the system applies the brakes for you by releasing and reapplying pressure. This makes the braking process more gradual - giving the driver the ability to control their cars.

ABS is characterised by four components:

  • Valves within the system allow the brakes to block and release pressure keeping you on track
  • Pumps filled with hydraulic fluid similarly apply pressure to the brakes to keep you in control
  • Speed sensors keep check on how fast your wheels are rotating
  • An electronic control unit (ECU) decides whether pumping the brakes is necessary


When are anti-lock brakes most effective?

ABS are most effective when the brakes are applied promptly and firmly. This gives them the best possible chance of pumping the brakes effectively.

How do I use anti-lock brakes?

Using ABS is a lot easier than the engineering behind it. All cars in Britain, since the 1980s, have been fitted with ABS. Simply use your brakes in the way you would normally, and the anti-lock braking system will be applied.

What do I do if my anti-lock brakes are broken?

As with all car parts, ABS can experience natural wear and tear. When your brake system is broken, a light should appear on your dashboard. Don't panic, the light does not mean you do not have functioning brakes - but that you no longer have the assistance of an ABS when braking in challenging weather or in an emergency.

The most common reason your light is flashing is low brake fluid levels ? check your car's brake fluid and fill it up accordingly. If you are not confident in doing this or your brake fluid level is adequate yet the light is still flashing, take your car to your nearest Setyres Garage or contact us to book an appointment. Our friendly staff have the expertise to get your car back on the road and braking effectively in no time!

Posted on: 18/01/2021

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