Driving with an Anti-Lock
Braking System (ABS)

ABS is a safe, effective braking system when used properly.
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Driving With ABS

What is ABS?

Anti-lock braking systems help vehicles maintain traction and avoid skidding, allowing the driver to stay in control of the vehicle. To put simply, they keep a vehicle’s wheels from locking up when braking. ABS is now standard on almost all new vehicles. To take full advantage of this safety benefit, drivers must learn how to operate their anti-lock brake systems correctly.

The Dos and Don’ts of Anti-Lock Brakes


keep your foot on the brake.
Maintain firm and continuous pressure on the brake while steering. If your vehicle is equipped with just rear-wheel anti-lock brakes, however, the front wheels can still lock up. If that happens, ease up on the brake pedal slightly to allow the front wheels to roll again so you can steer.
allow enough distance to stop.
Follow three seconds or more behind vehicles when driving in good conditions. Allow more time if conditions are hazardous.
practice driving with ABS.
You need to get accustomed to the feel of the brake pedal when ABS is activated. Empty parking lots or other open areas are excellent places to practice emergency stops.


pump the brakes.
Pumping the brakes turns the system on and off. ABS pumps the brakes for you automatically, at a much faster rate, and allows better steering control.
forget to steer.
Four-wheel ABS enables drivers to steer in emergency braking situations, but the system itself does not steer.
be alarmed by noise and vibration.
These sensations tell you the ABS system is working properly.

Other Tips for Driving with ABS

  1. Anti-lock brakes are only as good as the driver using them.
    Anti-lock brakes cannot compensate for driving faster, more aggressively, or maintaining unsafe following distances. They cannot guarantee recovery from a spin or skid prior to an emergency braking situation. Avoid extreme steering maneuvers while your anti-lock brake system is engaged.
  2. Understand the capabilities of ABS.
    Anti-lock brake systems can stop more quickly than conventional brakes on wet paved surfaces and on icy or packed snow-covered roads. However, stopping distances can be longer on loose gravel or freshly fallen snow.
  3. Find out whether your car has anti-lock brakes.
    Look for an illuminated ABS symbol on your dashboard immediately after starting the engine or check your owner’s manual. If still in doubt, ask your dealer.