1. Autos
Send to a Friend via Email

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Anti-Lock Brake Systems Help Keep You Safe

Understanding ABS Keeps You From Accidentally Turning the System Off


Your pickup truck's anti-lock brake system (ABS) is one of the most important automotive safety advancements since the seat belt. Most drivers know that having anti-lock brakes is a good thing, but they often don't understand how the system works.

Conventional Brakes vs. ABS

Conventional Brakes
When a vehicle is equipped with conventional brakes, and you push the brake pedal hard when stopping on loose or slick surfaces, one or more of the wheels may lock up (stop turning). Lock ups can cause the truck to swerve or skid, leaving you with little or no control of the vehicle.

Anti-lock Brakes
When an anti-lock brake system is present, a sensor in an about-to-be locked up wheel sends a message to a computer. The computer immediately starts releasing and applying that brake, preventing a lock up and allowing you to maintain control -- or drive around an obstacle instead of sliding straight towards it.

When the anti-lock system kicks in, it makes a noise and the brake pedal pulsates. If that happens, don't panic -- keep your foot on the brake pedal and let the anti-lock system go to work. Letting up on the pedal may turn off the ABS.

Anti-Lock Brakes Help Other Safety Developments

Engineers found they could use an anti-lock brake system to detect and control wheel spin on acceleration, resulting in the traction control systems that are available on many newer vehicles.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.