Tips on maintaining anti-lock brakes

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Most of the brake parts for an anti-lock braking system (ABS) are similar to those of conventional brakes....

Most of the brake parts for an anti-lock braking system (ABS) are similar to those of conventional brakes. But knowing more about the differences can help you care for your ABS properly.

Differences between standard brakes and ABS

Anti-lock brakes work differently from standard brakes in that they automatically pump in cases of potential skidding and lock-up. That ability means anti-lock systems have a few additional parts, like sensors that measure wheel speed and send the information back to the control unit. If the system senses lock-up, the brakes are pumped by a hydraulic actuator.

The sensors and hydraulic system are the major differences between conventional brakes and ABS , but the routine maintenance is pretty similar.

Additional maintenance for ABS brakes

You'll still need to replace pads and shoes and resurface rotors and drums. But skimping on maintenance can be even pricier for ABS. Simply replacing brake pads and shoes without further maintenance can lead to major damage and, because of the pricey ABS components, you'll pay a lot more to replace the system.

Flushing your brake fluid regularly is more important than with conventional brakes, as well, due to the hydraulic components. The modulator unit can be damaged by dirty brake fluid. Maintain your ABS brake components on a mileage schedule:

  • Replace pads and shoes every 12,000 miles.
  • Resurface rotors and drums. Inspect them each time you change your brake pads and resurface when necessary. Even with grooves, rotors can usually be repaired rather than replaced.
  • Fluid should be flushed every two years or 24,000 miles.

How to troubleshoot ABS problems

If your ABS light turns on, there are several ways to troubleshoot problems with the system. First, reboot the system by turning your car off and back on. This allows your ABS to call for brake information again . If the light remains on, you'll need to have your ABS controller scanned for a trouble code. Once you're armed with that trouble code, you may be able to determine the source of the system's problem and get it repaired.

If you're unable to find and repair your brakes yourself, consult an Atlanta automotive professional.

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