How Do Anti-Lock Brake Systems Work?

By Guest Author - October 11th 2017

In the world of auto repair, October is Brake Safety Awareness Month and although you should get your brakes checked regularly, October is an especially good time to do it! With many RepairPal Certified shops participating in Brakes for Breasts, brakes are on the mind this Autumn and we thought we would dive into a lesser-understood aspect of your brakes: the anti-lock braking system.

Anti-lock brake systems, or "ABS" for short, are used to make traveling in your car safe and reliable. When you're on a treacherous roadway, you might need to slam on your brakes for one reason or another. Anti-lock brakes keep your wheels from freezing up and causing you to skid.

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Image from Rick & Scout of

Let's take a look at how the anti-lock braking system works.

The anti-lock braking system has a control module and sensors on each tire. The control module reads the speed of rotation per tire and how many times per second, allowing it to apply brake pressure equally to each tire.

For example, if one tire is much slower than the other three, the control module will cause the brake pressure on that tire to subside and offer it to the others until it equals out between all four tires. The process is repeated many times per second until you come to a complete stop in the safest way possible. This explains why it's so important to always make sure your anti-lock brake system is working correctly.

The dreaded anti-lock braking system light

So say you hop in your car in the morning, start it up and immediately notice an "ABS" light illuminated on your dash panel. It is very important to get this looked at as soon as possible.

For more information on what to do when you see the ABS light on your dash panel, click here.

Dealing with an illuminated anti-lock brake system light

Unless you're a trained mechanic, anti-lock brake issues are best left to a certified technician.

Your brakes are what protect you in various hazardous driving situations. You want them to be working perfectly to protect you and your passengers.

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