The anti-lock braking system of a car is what allows the tires on a car to continue the traction with the road while the driver steers and brakes. The system prevents the wheels from locking up or stopping rotation to avoid skidding or sliding. The anti-lock braking system increases the control of a vehicle and helps decrease the stopping distance on both slippery and dry surfaces. On gravel or pavement that is covered in snow, the system may in fact increase the stopping difference, but it still helps improve the control of the vehicle.
How it Works
The anti-lock braking system consists of a electronic control unit, 4 tire speed sensors, and two or more hydraulic valves that are located within the hydraulics of the brakes. The electronic control unit monitors the rotation speed of each tire. If the control unit detects the speed of one tire slowing at a faster rate than others it will then initiate the valve of the brakes in order to reduce the hydraulic pressure being applied at the affected tire. The force of the braking is reduced allowing it to turn faster.
The electronic control unit may also detect a tire spinning at a faster rate than the others. When this happens the unit will increase the hydraulic pressure of the brakes to the wheel to help slow down the tire. The process is continuously repeated so the driver will feel a pulsation in the brake pedal. There are some anti-lock braking systems that can release braking pressure at a rate of 16 times each second.
The electronic control unit is programmed to disregard the differences in tire rotation speed at a critical threshold. This is because when a vehicle is being turned the tires of the center of the turn go slower than the outer tires.
Types of Anti-lock Braking Systems
The type of anti-lock braking system a vehicle has will depend on the type of brakes that are in use. The difference in each system depends on the number of the speed sensors and the number of valves that are controlled individually.
A four channel, four sensor anti-lock braking system is the best system as there is a speed sensor located in each tire and a separate valve for each tire as well. The system can then monitor each tire individually.
The three channel, four sensor system has a speed sensor on all four of the tires, but there is only one valve for the rear tires and two for the front.
The system that is found commonly on pick up trucks is the three channel, three sensor. The system consists of speed sensors and valves for both front wheels. The sensor and valve for the rear tires is located in the axle.
Safety of the System
A study that was done in Australia in 2003 reported that vehicles that the use of an anti-lock brake system reduced the risk of being involved in a multi-car crash by 18% and reduced the risk of being in an off road crash by 35%.
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