Home → LifeStyle→

How Should You Use Anti Lock Brakes (ABS)?

Written by, Bojana Atanasovska

Updated April, 19, 2022

Modern vehicles are safer than ever and the main reason for that is the anti-lock braking system or ABS, which is a key safety feature on almost all new cars and two-wheelers. 

But, how should you use anti lock brakes?

Read on to find out!

Anti-lock Brakes Meaning

The anti lock braking systems, also known as anti-skid braking systems, are designed to prevent the wheels from locking up during emergencies where the driver is forced to make a sudden stop and step down on the brake pedal. 

The ABS is made up of 4 integral components:

Speed sensors

The speed sensors are located at each wheel and send digital signals to the controller when the wheels are about to lock up. 


Valves, which control the pressure, are in the break line. The valve has three positions: an open position which allows the pressure to flow, a block position to prevent the pressure from rising, and a release position where it releases pressure from the brake.


The pump restores the pressure to the brakes after the valve releases it.


The controller is a computer where the signals from the speed sensor are sent. It also limits the brake force when the wheel loses traction.

How does ABS work?

When you’re driving a vehicle with anti-lock brakes, each wheel has a sensor that can determine the speed and the rate of acceleration and deceleration, so when the driver breaks sharply, the ABS automates the brake pumping process by applying the optimum pressure. 

This prevents the wheels from locking and allows them to keep moving as the car slows down.

 There are two types of ABS:

  • Four-wheel anti-lock braking systems: These are found on passenger cars and their role is to maintain steerability.
  • Rear-wheel anti-lock braking systems: These are designed to maintain stability and prevent the vehicle from skidding and are usually fitted on light trucks.

What does the ABS warning light mean?

The ABS warning light points to a potential problem with the anti-lock braking system anti-brake system, such as a defective sensor, a problem with the wiring, a solenoid valve, or low brake fluid. 

If the warning light is on, the ABS won’t prevent the wheels from locking up in case of an emergency stop or a slippery road. 

One of the main reasons why you shouldn’t ignore an ABS is not only will the system not work in case of an emergency, but your insurance won’t pay your claim. What’s more, if the ABS warning light is permanently on, you might not pass the MOT and get caught driving without one.

When is ABS most effective?

Anti-lock brakes are of most use when you are driving on normal road conditions such as dry and solid road surfaces. Still, their efficiency can depend on the driver too. To effectively use the ABS system, the driver needs to press on the brakes promptly and firmly.

How important is ABS to your car insurance?

Even though car insurance premiums are the lowest they’ve been in the last seven years, it’s always a good idea to implement safety practises that could lower the cost of car insurance. 

The ABS is a safety feature that could help you with this, as many insurers provide 2-5% ABS discounts on auto insurance.

Bottom Line

Anti lock brakes prevent wheels from locking and give drivers more control of the vehicle during emergency brakes. While anti-brake systems are a breakthrough, they don’t compensate for poor driving, so it is important to always use safe driving practices. 

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

How do anti-lock brakes help you?

Driving a vehicle fitted with anti-lock brakes allows you to concentrate on steering the vehicle to safety during a hard braking event and helps you maintain control.

On what type of road surface may anti-lock brakes not work effectively?

The ABS anti lock braking system doesn’t work as well in cases where there’s poor contact with the road. For example, the ABS brakes may not work effectively in slippery conditions, such as snow and ice, or on roads that are loose or uneven.

What should you do if your anti-lock brakes ABS warning light stays on?

If your ABS light is on, you should take your vehicle to a repair shop, where technicians will diagnose the issue with the ABS braking system(with a special code reader) and fix it. 

How should you use anti-lock brakes when stopping in an emergency?

In case of an emergency, if your vehicle has four-wheel ABS, you should keep the foot on the pedal, and focus on steering.  If you’re driving a vehicle with a rear-wheel ABS and the front wheels lock up during a sudden stop, you should ease up on the pedal until the wheels start to roll again.

How should you use anti lock brakes?

To make sure you make the most out of the anti-lock braking system, it’s important to step on the breaks firmly and hold your foot on the pedal until the vehicle stops. 

Bojana is my name and writing is my game. I am a content writer from Bitola who is always interested in the latest research in almost all areas of life. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a perfectionist character, both of which help me find the most accurate data and information available. Although I have my head stuck in studies and reports most of the time, I still have a bit of free time during which I enjoy knitting and watching classic 90’s Disney movies.