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Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) started to become commonplace in the 1990s. Now, the technology is found on all modern vehicles.
If you’re old enough, you may remember having to “pump the brakes” in an emergency situation to prevent the wheels from locking up. Well, guess what? Thanks to ABS, the car does all that pumping work for you. All you need to do is step on the brake pedal.
At the heart of the ABS system, you’ll find a computer, referred to as a control module. The module uses wheel speed sensors to measure how fast your car’s wheels are turning. If the sensors indicate wheel lockup is about to occur, the control module pulses brake fluid to the slipping wheel(s) to prevent lockup. The module operates solenoid valves inside a device, called a hydraulic control unit, to modulate brake pressure to each wheel.
If you have to slam on the brakes in an emergency situation, you’ll feel a pulsation in the brake pedal as the ABS kicks in. The sensation seems pretty weird, at first, and you may think something’s wrong with your car. But don’t worry – that’s just the ABS system doing its thing.
Chances are the first thing you'll notice is that your ABS light is on. Some additional warnings, such as the traction control indicator, may also be illuminated. When the ABS light turns on, the control module will store a corresponding diagnostic trouble code (DTC) in its memory. A mechanic can use that code as a starting point for further troubleshooting.
Typically, if there’s a problem that’s triggering the ABS warning light, the ABS module will disable the system entirely. If the car has traction and stability control, those systems may also be inoperative since they are integrated with the ABS system.
Do you have a late-model car with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control? If the ABS system isn’t working right, several ADAS functions, such as these, may also be disabled.Get a Quote 1-Year | 12,000-Mile Warranty
We’re talking about your brakes here. If the ABS light is on, that means there’s a problem that could reduce the safety of your car in an emergency situation. As such, you should get the issue diagnosed and repaired immediately.
1-Year | 12,000-Mile Warranty