One of the most unnerving things that can happen in

motoring is that you brake and one or more of the
wheels locks up. This has two possible effects. It can
make the car slew to one side or, if the car happens to
skid in a straight line, the steering becomes useless and
you lose all directional control.
Disc brakeBrakepedalBrakemastercylinderToothed discConnected to thewheel hub androtates at
the samespeed as the roadwheel..Speed sensorDetects the speedat which thetoothed
discrotates.Hydraulic control unitReceives messages fromthe electronic control unitthat a wheel
is about to lockup and reduces hydraulicpressure accordingly.Electronic control unitFed with
information from thespeed sensor, it decideswhether a wheel is about tolock up.

Electronic anti-lock braking

Virtually all modern cars are fitted with microprocessor-controlled anti-lock braking systems
(ABS). These can react very quickly to the wheels locking, interrupting and reapplying the
brakes up to 25 times a second to ensure the vehicle doesn't skid.

The best way to prevent skidding is to
apply a form of braking called cadence
braking. A driver who is skilled at this can
usually avoid wheel lockup, but an antilock braking system does the job
automatically and usually more efficiently.
More and more cars are now being fitted
with such a system.
Cadence braking
This is a way of maintaining control in very slippery conditions. The technique requires that the
driver quickly and repeatedly releases and reapplies the brakes. The brakes should be released
just before the wheels lock up but it is almost as effective to release them just after lock up.
The technique of cadence braking has to be done in perfect timing with the car's natural pitching
motion, otherwise it may not be of any benefit.

How it works

An anti-lock system automatically applies
a form of cadence braking by detecting
when a wheel is about to lock, releasing
the brake at that wheel and then
immediately reapplying it. The system,
therefore, needs three main parts: a
means of telling when a wheel is about to
lock; a means of releasing its brake; and a
means of restoring the pressure to
the brake line after release.
The third feature is necessary because
the anti-lock system has to work without
the driver releasing and reapplying
pressure on the brake pedal, and without
the pedal sinking to the floor.
Skid detection

A car tyre provides its best grip just
before it gives up altogether and slides.
Any method of detecting a wheel about to
lock must therefore allow for its speed
falling slightly below the free-running

speed - the system must not react too
eagerly, but must still work quickly once
the point of best grip has been passed.
In practice, there are two ways of
detecting that a wheel is about to lock. Its
speed can be compared with that of the
other wheels, or the rate at which it is
slowing down can be measured. In either
case thehydraulic pressure at the brake
can be released if the deceleration is too
Computer-based electronic systems work
by speed-checking the wheels against
each other, but usually run a doublecheck by keeping track of the rate of
deceleration too. These systems are
complex and relatively expensive. Some
anti-lock systems use
mechanical sensors that detect when a
wheel is slowing too quickly.
Bosch ABS (Anti-blocking system)

Bosch ABS

In the Bosch system, wheel speeds are read by toothed discs running through sensors.
The microprocessor compares wheel speeds and deceleration rates.
Hydraulic pressure to the brakes is cut by electronic solenoidvalves. The hydraulic unit also
contains a pump andaccumulator to maintain pressure to reapply the brakes.
When the driver applies pressure to the brake pedal, the solenoid valve allows pressure through
to the caliper so that the pads can grip and slow the disc.
If the sensor detects that the wheel is about to lock, the valve's plunger moves up to cut off the
hydraulic supply and maintain pressure at the brake.
If the wheel is still in danger of locking, the computer moves the plunger still further to 'dump'
pressure to the reservoir, while the pump builds up pressure for reapplication.
When the wheel has speeded up sufficiently the valve is dropped to its lowest position to allow
the accumulated pressure through to reapply the brake.

Brake valves

All anti-lock systems use some sort of
valve to release the hydraulic pressure at
the wheel cylinder to prevent the wheel
from locking. The valve diverts the
pressure back to the brake fluid reservoir.
A simple release valve is not enough,
however, because it would allow all the
fluid from the master cylinder to flow
back to the reservoir and the brake pedal
would sink to the floor. Any release valve

must have a means of shutting off the
pressure supply from the
master cylinder at the same time that it
releases pressure from the wheel cylinder.
This is done by shuttle valves in which an
internal body moves so that it
simultaneously closes the pressure-supply
port and opens a pressure-relief port. The
valve may be moved by hydraulic control
pressure or by an electromagnetic coil.
Where the skid detector is a simple
mechanical device, mechanical valves are
usually used; with microprocessor
systems the valves receive electrical
control instructions.
Feed pumps

Any anti-skid system must include a
pump, or pumps, to provide the pressure
to reapply the brakes after they have
been released without the driver needing
to release and reapply the brake pedal.
The pressure in an electronic system is
stored in a tank called a

hydraulic accumulator and controlled by
a pressure regulator. In most systems the
pump is electrically driven. It keeps the
accumulator at sufficient pressure to
ensure that the system can reapply the
brakes often enough to stop in any
Cars with fully powered hydraulics usually
have a pump driven from the engine.
These types of system are rare, though
they have been successfully used on
larger Citroen models for the past 30
years. The new Jaguar XJ6 also has such a
The mechanical system uses a purely
mechanical pump close to, and driven by,
each wheel. Each time the anti-lock
system releases a wheel, the action of its
running back up to 'free' speed generates
enough pressure for the brake to be
reapplied once more.
The Maxaret system

The first car to go into production with an anti-lock system was the Jensen FF. The system was
Dunlop's Maxaret, originally developed for aircraft wheel brakes.
Although the FF proved that anti-lock braking was a workable proposition, the Maxaret suffered
in two ways from its aircraft origins. It was so large and expensive that even on the big Jensen
only one unit could be installed, controlling the pressure to all four wheels together.
The system was further handicapped by its cycling rate (the speed at which it could release and
reapply the brakes), which was too slow to achieve the best results.

Electronic systems

These systems work at the rate of 15-25
on-off cycles a second. They detect the
speed of each wheel by reading the speed
of a smaller toothed disc attached to it.
The disc runs through electromagnetic
sensors that count the teeth to find out
how fast the wheel is turning. The signals
from the sensor are fed to a
microprocessor which works out if any
wheel is running more slowly than the
others, or if any wheel is decelerating too
When the microprocessor decides it is
time to release a wheel, it sends a signal
to the electromagnetic valve to close off
the pressure supply and momentarily

release the existing hydraulic pressure.
Then, when it senses that the wheel has
speeded up enough, braking pressure is
reapplied. The rise and fall in pressure is
felt as a pulsing at the brake pedal — the
only indication the system is in operation.
Lucas Girling SCS (stop control system)

Lucas Girling SCS (Stop Control System)
The SCS is entirely mechanical and only costs about a third of the price of ABS.
The hydraulic control units are driven by belts from the front drive shafts and use inertia sensors
to calculate deceleration rates.
The control units incorporate simple plunger pumps to enable brake pressure to be reapplied
once the wheel has been prevented from locking.

The SCS is entirely mechanical and only
costs about a third of the price of ABS.
The hydraulic control units are driven by
belts from the front drive shafts and
use inertia sensors to calculate
deceleration rates.
The control units incorporate simple
plunger pumps to enable brake pressure

to be reapplied once the wheel has been
prevented from locking.
Normal braking

When the wheel is in no danger of
locking, the modulator unit's dump valve
is closed and brake fluid is allowed
through to the caliper at full pressure.
pistonmoves up torelieve pressure
Wheel about to lock

If the wheel decelerates too quickly, the
unit's flywheel over-runs it, moves
sideways and allows the dump valve to
open, relieving brake pressure.
Restoration of pressure

The wheel speed increases and 'catches
up' with the decelerating flywheel, which
moves back to close the dump valve. The
pump restores pressure.
Anti-lock layouts

The most popular approach, seen in cars
such as the Citroen CX with the ATE
system or the Ford Granada and Jaguar
XJS with Bosch ABS, is to control the
braking of each front wheel but to handle
the two rear wheels together, the rear
brake pressure being governed by
whichever wheel is closer to locking. This
'three channel' approach reduces costs
while sacrificing little in the way of
effectiveness compared with systems that
control all four brakes separately, such as
that in the S-class Mercedes.
Honda adopt a slightly different approach
for their ALB system, which works in
much the same way but assumes that the
most important wheel to prevent from
locking is the most heavily loaded front
Mechanical systems
BrakemastercylinderDrive shaftPump andmodulator unitsDrive beltDisc brakeDiagonally
splithydraulic circuitDrumbrakeLoad sensitivevalve

Mechanical ABS systems

The Lucas Girling SCS was recently introduced as an anti-lock option on Ford's front-wheeldrive Escort and Orion, although the system is suitable for most light, front-wheeldrive cars. The

system only senses when the front wheels are about to lock, although a reduction in pressure at a
front wheel is coupled with a proportionally smaller reduction at the diagonally opposite rear one
to keep the car straight.

The Lucas Girling SCS uses an inertia-type
locking sensor, which operates the brake
valves directly, and wheel-driven pumps.
With this system, over-rapid deceleration
of the wheel moves a weight against a
spring to open a hydraulic control valve.
Although SCS has a slower cycling rate
than electronic systems such as ABS, it
gives satisfactory results, especially in
light, front-driven cars such as the Ford
Escort on which it was introduced, and it
is also much cheaper.