car driving in the rain

Best way to use anti-lock brakes

How to stop with ABS on slick roads

Have you ever tried stopping hard with a vehicle that has anti-lock brakes? You likely have at least once. Whether it was a moment of inattentive driving, a slick road, or a sudden and unexpected obstacle, from time to time you have had to stomp on the brakes and you’ve likely felt the ABS fight you. Slick roads are the hardest situation to deal with. Want to know how to stop with ABS on slick roads? We can help!

brake calipers and padsHow does ABS work?

Before we dive into the best braking techniques for ABS, it would be beneficial if you understood how ABS works. An anti-lock braking system employs a sensor at each wheel to detect wheel speed. When one of those sensors detects that the wheel has stopped prematurely, it relieves some brake pressure to keep your wheels from locking.

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close up of the brakes on a carWhy are locked wheels bad for stopping?

It may be counter-intuitive, but a spinning wheel can actually slow you down faster than a locked wheel. Because of this, the ABS tries to keep your tires just at the edge of locking, which maximizes your braking force.

Another important reason to avoid locking your wheels is the control. If all four wheels are locked, you effectively have very minimal control over your vehicle. What’s worse is if just one wheel is locked, then it could turn or spin your vehicle. Before the days of ABS, this is why people were taught to pump the brakes if they feel the wheels lock.

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car sliding through waterThe best way to decrease stopping distance

If you’re dealing with rain-slick roads or even ice, then the best way to optimize stopping distance is to ride your brakes right above the point where the ABS wants to kick in. If the ABS is already kicking in, it means you are riding the brakes too hard, and the wheels are locking a bit as the ABS modulates brake pressure.

In an emergency, the ABS will always be better than locked brakes. That’s where the anti-lock brake system truly shines. When drivers panic, they tend to put as much pressure on the brakes as possible. In that event, at least you will maintain control and have an improved stopping distance.

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