Anti-lock braking technology is standard on virtually all new automobiles, and is one of the most essential things your car offers to keep you and your passengers safe. As with any automotive system, though, it requires regular maintenance and upkeep, or else it ceases to do its job properly—the results of which can be devastating.
In this post, we’ll give some overview on how anti-lock braking systems, or ABS, work; what makes them stop working; and what you can do to keep yours in good working order.
ABS Brake System at a Glance
While there are some technical complexities to modern-day braking systems, ABS is pretty simple at its core. Basically, there are sensors on each wheel that detect when you encounter a slowdown or a skid. This briefly causes the wheels to stop rotating, which makes it easier for you to control your vehicle and steer it out of trouble. ABS technology helps you avoid danger when the roads are slippery, icy, or wet; only on snow- or gravel-covered roads can ABS come up short. Essentially, ABS will automatically slow your vehicle before you even have a chance to apply your brakes, which means more control and decreased braking distance. Of course, this is all assuming your brakes are working as intended.
Of course, this isn’t always the case; over time, you may encounter some issues with your ABS, and it’s important that you quickly troubleshoot them and begin the necessary repairs. You may notice that there is an ABS service light on your dashboard. This light will briefly come on when you start the car, but should go off after a moment. If it remains illuminated, then your car is telling you there is a problem with the anti-lock braking system. Crucially, this is rarely a problem with the brakes themselves. More often, there is a malfunction with one of the sensors. This is most often caused because the sensors become contaminated, either with dirt or with metal shavings. It is also possible that the problem is a malfunction in the sensory wiring; usually, this happens either due to driving through extreme environments, or by major neglect of your braking system. For those who take care of their brakes and get their vehicle serviced regularly, this is not a very likely occurrence.
Maintaining and Troubleshooting Your ABS
The best way to avoid problems with your brakes is to have them inspected regularly; you might make this part of your routine maintenance cadence, along with tire rotations and oil changes. Trained technicians, like those at Meineke, can let you know if there’s any work that needs to be done to clean or repair your sensors.
If you do experience problems, such as that ABS service light coming on, make sure you take your car in for servicing quickly. Your brakes are far too important to neglect. Your safety hangs in the balance!
To schedule an ABS service call or routine maintenance, contact your local Meineke service center right away.
The anti-lock braking system on a vehicle is an additional safety feature found on many modern vehicles. The ABS system is designed to help prevent wheels from locking during heavy braking situations, preventing the vehicle from skidding or hydroplaning. The ABS system is made up of the ABS module, and ABS sensors at each wheel. The sensors detect wheel speed, and will send a message to the ABS module to rapidly pump the brakes when it is detected that the vehicle is skidding or has lost traction.
When the ABS system is not functioning then loss of traction, skidding, and hydroplaning are far more likely to occur under heavy braking conditions. The ABS system on most vehicles is usually designed to give you plenty of warning signs when there is any trouble with the system. Being aware of these warning signs, and addressing the problem as soon as they arise will help ensure that your ABS system and vehicle remains functioning for maximum safety.
1. Unresponsive brake pedal
In certain cases, depending on the model of vehicle, when the ABS module fails, the brake pedal may become unresponsive. This is an obvious problem, as an unresponsive brake pedal will not stop a vehicle, or will not be able to do so in an adequately safe manner. In most cases, this will happen slowly, over time. Usually the brake pedal will become increasingly hard to press until it is no longer responsive.
2. Brake pads require more effort to push
When all components of the braking system are working properly, the pedal should require very little effort. It should be very easy to press down on, and once pressed should have an immediately noticeable effect in slowing the vehicle down. If you start to notice that over time the pedal requires increased effort in order to achieve the same amount of braking force, then that may be a sign of a possible issue with the ABS module.
3. The ABS Light is on
The most common sign of an issue with the ABS system is the ABS Light coming on. The ABS Light will show an amber color, and is the equivalent of a Check Engine Light, except it is only to diagnose problems with the ABS system. Older vehicles equipped with earlier ABS systems may not have an ABS Light, and may use a Check Engine Light instead. If the ABS Light comes on then that is a sure sign that there is a problem with the ABS system.
4. The brakes are locking up
When it is functioning correctly the ABS system is designed specifically to prevent the wheels from locking up during heavy braking, preventing loss of traction. However, there can be certain instances where a faulty ABS module can behave erratically, causing your brakes to lock up even under normal driving conditions. If you are experiencing sporadic behavior from your brakes, such as random clicking noises, and/or pumping of the brakes, then the ABS module may need to be replaced.