Why is the Anti-lock braking system important in cars?

The era of the 1980s and 1990s was revolutionary for the automobile world, as some game-changing technologies were introduced. The ABS or anti-lock braking system is one of them. Initially, the technology was limited to big European players such as Mercedes and BMW, but with time, the ABS technology has filtered down to the mass market cars these days. As the name suggests, the anti-lock brakes prevent your wheel from locking in an event of hard braking, thereby giving you a complete steering control and reduces the braking distance by 27%. The ABS shines in wet or poor road conditions, where the road grip is compromised. Given an option, you should go for a vehicle that has this system. Let us understand why and what is the importance of anti-lock braking in this article.

“Hurrah for anti-lock brakes!” by Herkie is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

How does the ABS work?

So the basic principle on which the ABS works is that it releases and reapplies the brake pressure in a pulsating manner whenever the system detects the ‘locking’ of the wheel. This is achieved by the use of a pump, commonly called ABS pump, that can create a pulsating effect through a series of solenoids and valves. The major components of an ABS system include wheel speed sensors(present in each wheel), an ABS pump, and an ABS control module. The system checks about a hundred times in a second for the parameters from each speed sensor. If it detects that the speed of a particular wheel has reduced beyond the threshold value, the control module will then activate the system. The earlier iteration was a single or dual channel system, but the current generation has a four-channel system, meaning each wheel is individually controlled. 

Why is ABS important?

Simply put, the ABS can do wonders for the overall braking efficiency of a vehicle. As stated above, the braking distance is dramatically reduced to up to 27%. The importance of anti-lock braking is much more during the road conditions, such as wet roads, which results in poor grip. In a car without ABS, you will not be able to control the direction if you happen to lock your wheels during hard braking. With an ABS onboard, you will have complete directional control. These days, the ABS is a part of a much larger advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS), that can improve the overall safety of a vehicle by a huge margin. Now the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has made the ABS compulsory on Indian cars from 2019, but if you are in the market for a second-hand car, then you must go for a vehicle that has ABS brakes.

Do ABS brakes require extra maintenance?

The short answer is yes, there are certain components associated with the ABS that require regular maintenance at a specific interval. But you don’t have to worry about it as it will not make any drastic change in the overall maintenance cost. Components such as wheel speed sensors require regular cleaning, and there is a special brake bleeding procedure for the ABS pump. Overall, if you stick to the regular maintenance, then the system will not cost you any extra money. Another important thing is that you should buy a tire size of exact specification as required by the manufacturer, as a wrong tire size can confuse the ABS control system. 


In the end, you must go for a vehicle that has an ABS braking system on board, as the importance of anti-lock braking is many. It can make a huge difference in the overall safety of a vehicle and make your journey safer. But also keep in mind that you should not play God on the road with these technologies. This technology is assistive at best, and the major responsibility is still on the driver to drive the vehicle responsibly. The ABS will not save you from a fatal accident miraculously, it can only prevent it to a certain extent.