The idea behind anti-lock brakes is simple. Anti-lock brakes are designed to prevent skidding and help drivers maintain steering control during an emergency braking situation. ABS eliminates the need to pump the brakes because ABS pumps automatically at a rate of up to 18 times per second whenever a sensor detects the start of wheel lock. Because the wheels are kept from locking up, the driver is able to better control the vehicle.
There are two kinds of anti-lock brakes: four-wheel and rear-wheel. Four-wheel ABS, found primarily on passenger cars and many newer light trucks, prevents wheel lock-up on all four wheels.
Rear-wheel ABS is found exclusively on light trucks and is designed to prevent only the rear wheels from locking up so that the vehicle doesn't skid sideways. It is important for drivers to understand the differences between four-wheel and rear-wheel ABS because it affects how they use their systems.
Here are the Dos and Don'ts for driving with ABS:
DO keep your foot on the brake. Maintain firm and continuous pressure on the brake while steering to enable four-wheel ABS to work properly. Avoid pumping the brake, even if the brake pedal is pulsating. In light trucks that are equipped with rear-wheel anti-lock brakes, however, the front wheels can still lock up the same as conventional brakes. If that happens, the driver should ease up on the brake pedal with just enough pressure to allow the front wheels to roll again so you can steer.
DO allow enough distance to stop. Follow three seconds or more behind vehicles when driving in good conditions. Allow more time if conditions are hazardous.
DO practice driving with ABS. Become accustomed to pulsations that occur in the brake pedal when ABS is activated. Driving in empty parking lots or other open areas are excellent places to practice emergency stops.
DO consult the vehicle's owner's manual for additional driving instructions on ABS.
DO know the difference between four-wheel and rear-wheel ABS. Four-wheel ABS is generally found on passenger cars, and is designed to maintain steerability and directional stability in emergency braking situations. Rear-wheel ABS, found exclusively on light trucks, is designed to maintain directional stability and prevent the vehicle from skidding sideways.
DON'T drive an ABS-equipped vehicle more aggressively than vehicles without ABS. Driving around curves faster, changing lanes abruptly or performing other aggressive steering maneuvers is neither appropriate nor safe with any vehicle.
DON'T pump the brakes. In four-wheel ABS-equipped vehicles, pumping the brake turns the system on and off. ABS pumps the brakes for you automatically at a much faster rate and allows better steering control.
DON'T forget to steer. Four-wheel ABS enables drivers to steer in emergency braking situations, but the system itself does not steer.
DON'T be alarmed by mechanical noises and/or slight pedal pulsations while applying the brake in an ABS-equipped vehicle. These conditions are normal and let you know ABS is working.
For more information and a free brochure, call 1-800-ABS-8958.
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