An Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is an automobile safety system that allows the wheels on a motor vehicle to maintain tractive contact with the road surface according to driver inputs while braking, preventing the wheels from locking up (ceasing rotation) and avoiding uncontrolled skidding.
Basically: ABS allows the driver to maintain better control of the car under hard braking
How does ABS work?
Maximum braking effort, such as that required in an emergency stop, is developed at the point at which the wheel has just started to lock up and skid.
What are the ABS Components
ABS Component 1: Speed sensors
A speed sensor is used to determine the acceleration or deceleration of the wheel. These sensors use a magnet and a Hall-effect sensor, or a toothed wheel and an electromagnetic coil to generate a signal. The rotation of the wheel or differential induces a magnetic field around the sensor. The fluctuations of this magnetic field generate a voltage in the sensor. Since the voltage induced in the sensor is a result of the rotating wheel, this sensor can become inaccurate at slow speeds. The slower rotation of the wheel can cause inaccurate fluctuations in the magnetic field and thus cause inaccurate readings to the controller.
ABS Component 2: Valves
There is a valve in the brake line of each brake controlled by the ABS. On some systems, the valve has three positions:
In position one, the valve is open; pressure from the master cylinder is passed right through to the brake.
In position two, the valve blocks the line, isolating that brake from the master cylinder. This prevents the pressure from rising further should the driver push the brake pedal harder.
In position three, the valve releases some of the pressure from the brake.
The majority of problems with the valve system occur due to clogged valves. When a valve is clogged it is unable to open, close, or change position. An inoperable valve will prevent the system from modulating the valves and controlling pressure supplied to the brakes.
ABS Component 3: Pump
The pump in the ABS is used to restore the pressure to the hydraulic brakes after the valves have released it. A signal from the controller will release the valve at the detection of wheel slip. After a valve release the pressure supplied from the user, the pump is used to restore the desired amount of pressure to the braking system. The controller will modulate the status of the pumps in order to provide the desired amount of pressure and reduce slipping.
ABS Component 4: Controller
The controller is an ECU type unit in the car which receives information from each individual wheel speed sensor, in turn, if a wheel loses traction the signal is sent to the controller, the controller will then limit the brake force (EBD) and activate the ABS modulator which actuates the braking valves on and off.