Wednesday, 6th May 2020

ABS Brakes (Anti-lock Braking System)

ABS brakes, or the Anti-lock Braking System, is a feature designed to aid braking in adverse conditions. The brakes are found on all new cars on the market since it became a legal requirement in 2004. ABS brakes have appeared on some models in some form for decades, but is now part of every newly manufactured car.

To activate your ABS brakes, firmly apply the brakes, pushing the pedal to the floor. From here, the electronics will do the rest.

Bear in mind that the ABS is not a failsafe system. Slippery conditions, wet roads and wintry weather impact braking distances even with the ABS activated, so you should always maintain a safe speed when confronted with adverse conditions.

Read our guides on driving in adverse weather below:

How do ABS Brakes Work?

ABS uses electronics to optimise the braking system. Sensors on the wheel measure when it is on the verge of locking up under braking. If a wheel does lock, hydraulic valves come into place to prevent the wheel from locking up. The ABS pulses several times a second, allowing the driver to maintain steering control and reduce the stopping distance even in harsh weather conditions.

Maximum Braking Power

The main benefit of ABS brakes is that the system allows for maximum braking power, while at the same time allowing you to be able to steer to avoid collisions. This is highly effective in adverse weather conditions, when cars are susceptible to skidding or aquaplaning.

When are ABS brakes most effective

Your ABS brakes are most effective when you brake promptly and firmly until you come to a complete stop. In an ideal world, you won’t need to use your ABS brakes at all, but when it comes to an emergency, you should keep your foot firmly on the brake pedal until your vehicle has come to a complete stop.

What might you feel when abs brakes are activated?

When the ABS system gets activated, drivers will be able to tell because they will feel the braking system pulsing rapidly underneath their foot.


Abs brake light

Your ABS brake light will light up every time you start your car. This is simply the ABS performing a self-test every time the ignition in switched on.

However, if you notice the ABS brake light on while you are driving, there may be an issue. You should visit your local HiQ Centre and let one of our expert technicians take a look for you. Your brakes will still work while the ABS light is on, but the ABS itself may not engage, so it’s vital you get this checked.