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Tech Talk

Having looked at Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Traction Control (TRC) in the previous article, we now turn our attention to two further associated systems Brake Assist (BA) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC).

Brake Assist
As we have seen through previous articles, ABS is designed to prevent wheel lock up during emergency braking. Such a system is well suited to drivers who tend to ‘overbrake’ in emergencies, but studies have shown that a large percentage of drivers do not apply the brake hard enough in similar circumstances. Brake Assist (BA) is a technology that ensures that maximum pressure is applied to the brakes as quickly as possible during emergencies. Some manufacturers refer to the system as Emergency Brake Assist (EBA). The system is designed to work in conjunction with normal ABS functionality to maintain maximum deceleration performance. When a driver makes an emergency stop the brake pedal has to be pressed hard and the more pressure applied to the brake pedal, the greater the pressure felt throughout the braking system. In some cases a driver might not anticipate a hazard ahead as quickly as he should, failing to depress the brake pedal early enough or hard enough to allow a fully controlled, progressive braking period in plenty of time. When the driver finally appreciates the seriousness of the situation it is understandable that he will transfer his foot from accelerator to brake pedal very quickly. In this situation it is difficult to maintain braking sensitivity, which in a non-ABS equipped vehicle may lead to instant wheel locking and loss of control. Of course, when ABS is employed the system should overcome the tendency to skid and as long as the driver maintains or increases the pressure on the pedal the vehicle should brake efficiently. As previously mentioned, it has been found that when faced with an emergency braking situation, many drivers move their foot to the brake pedal quickly enough but
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fail to press it hard enough to achieve maximum braking effort. The Brake Assist part of the ABS ECU attempts to make up for this shortcoming by detecting how quickly the foot is moved from the accelerator to the brake as well as how fast and hard the brake pedal is depressed, to judge whether the driver actually wanted to perform an emergencybraking manoeuvre. A master cylinder pressure sensor is used to measure the rate of pressure build up inside the master cylinder to ascertain the rate that the brake pedal is depressed. If it is decided that the situation is an emergency and the pedal isn’t depressed fully, then it will increase the hydraulic pressure in the braking system to make up the gap. The pump and accumulator/reservoir included in the ABS actuator combine to provide pressure to the wheel brakes via the normally open ABS solenoid valves. Valves A and B in the illustration are initially closed to prevent fluid flowing back to the brake master cylinder. As long as the driver is applying less than pump pressure, the pump will provide the braking effort. It may now be necessary for valve B to open allowing extra fluid to be supplied to the pump if required. If the master cylinder pressure produced by the driver drops considerably, valve A will open and the pump will stop, allowing the driver to resume braking control. During this entire period the ABS can intervene at any time, which is the whole

point of BA – ensuring that the car is stopped in the shortest distance.

Vehicle Stability Control
Once directional control is lost during cornering it can take considerable skill to recover the situation and quite often, no matter what degree of skill the driver may have, it is humanly impossible. VSC - note that other names are used such as Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) etc attempts to compensate in this situation by braking individual wheels and adjusting the throttle to make the vehicle follow the cornering line the driver originally intended to take. A steering sensor (normally mounted on the steering column) detects the direction and speed in which the steering wheel is being turned, to determine the driver’s wishes. Acceleration sensors mounted on the vehicle body establish how hard the vehicle is cornering, slowing down or speeding up. A yaw rate sensor is employed to assess how fast the vehicle is rotating about its vertical axis. The ABS/VSC ECU then reduces the throttle and/or applies individual brakes (even if the driver is not braking) to slow down and change the direction in which the vehicle is moving. Understeer - When the skid control ECU determines that the vehicle is exhibiting a strong tendency towards a front wheel skid, depending on the extent of that tendency, the ECU first decreases the engine output (closes throttle) and then applies the brakes of both front wheels and the inside rear wheel. These actions increase the load on the front wheels via weight

discussed, along with diagnostic procedures associated with such systems. If you would like to study anti-lock braking systems in more detail we would be delighted to provide you with a place on one of our technical courses. Please see details below on how to contact us.
Understeer Oversteer

transfer, at the same time reducing the load on the rear wheels. The vehicle tries to turn more in the intended direction, reducing understeer. Oversteer - When the skid control ECU determines that there is a large rear wheel skid tendency, depending on the extent of that tendency the ECU closes the throttle. It then controls the solenoid valves to apply the brake of the outer front wheel which is most heavily loaded due to weight transfer, creating some outward steering similar to a brake “pull” when one brake on an axle is better than the other. In the next article we will be studying the operating detail of the new sensors

ProAuto Limited are an automotive technical training company based in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Our core business is the design and delivery of technical training to the automotive industry, which includes vehicle manufacturers, component manufacturers, diagnostic equipment manufacturers and independent garages. We run courses from numerous select venues nationally, so a course is never too far away. For further details you can visit our website at email us at or telephone on 01743 709679.

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