What is ABS? Why it's important?


Posted by: Henry Egan

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A detailed breakdown of what the ABS really is and what it does in a car and how it goes about doing that for our safety.

1. What is ABS?

The acronym ABS stands for Anti-Locking Braking System, an automobile technology that was developed to help improve the safety of vehicles, especially during heavy braking. So, in the early days of vehicle production, it was generally noticed that car wheels locked to a particular position whenever the driver is forced into sudden and heavy braking.

When wheel locking occurs, the vehicle's tires do not rotate anymore but are locked into a fixed position, even as the car keeps on skidding over the road until it finally comes to rest. As the wheels lock, it was noticed how practically impossible it was to even steer the tire from one direction to the other. This posed real safety concerns, as cars whose wheels locked would continue sliding for a longer time and would normally slide into danger mainly because the driver had lost steering control of the car.

Therefore, ABS technology was developed to mitigate wheel locking in cars, as well as to act as an anti-skid braking system.

1.1 How ABS works

The preceding section above gave a very succinct ABS definition, but how really does this thing work? Well, a technical look at what causes wheels to lock, points to the unregulated and disproportionate amount of the braking force or what we call brakeforce distribution, required to bring a car to a safe stop. Most times the braking force is way out of proportion and is also too sudden. In this way, the huge hydraulic pressure sent to the wheel helps bring the wheels to a stop and also succeeds in causing the wheels to lock in its position permanently until hydraulic pressure is removed.

So, drivers at that time, in a bid to mitigate their wheels locking, usually had to literarily keep pumping their brakes until the vehicle comes to a safe stop, a technique generally known as cadence braking especially for wet surfaces. Drawing from this, it became obvious that to stop a wheel from locking, hydraulic pressure would have to be supplied to the wheels intermittently for the vehicle to come to a safe stop without the wheels locking.

This is the principle upon which the Anti-locking Braking system works on, by intermittently supplying hydraulic pressure to the rear wheels in older cars and all wheels in modern cars. This is an automated process that happens several times in a second, by measuring the speed of each wheel to ascertain which one is going too slow and most likely to lock and will thus cut-off hydraulic pressure supply to such wheels. In modern land vehicles, this is called electronic brakeforce distribution.

This is seen in the explanation down in the following video:

How ABS (Anti-Lock Brakes) Work

2. Brief History of the ABS

The ABS has had a real storied journey with its first-ever known application being in the aviation industry. At that time, Dunlop built the first-ever industrial functional ABS that was expensive and could only be afforded by airline operators as the cost was easily offset by other areas of their operation. Dunlop built the mechanical ABS system, Maxaret, which was the only ABS tech available at that time and allowed Airlines to carry more weight.

This was because the ABS allowed the airplanes to come to a halt a lot faster and helped reduce the amount the airlines previously spent on replacing worn tires.

But the first real application of the ABS came in the Jensen built supercar, the Jensen FF in 1966. This was the first production car ever to come with the almighty Anti-Lock Braking system. However, the cost of installing ABS in cars at that time was really high, which meant the technology could only be infused in limited edition supercars with exorbitant price tags.


The Jensen FF the first car ever to come with an ABS technology

By the early 1970s, more automobile companies had begun developing their own ABS layout technology, including the big automakers in America. In fact, the likes of Ford, Mercedes- Benz, and Chrysler had succeeded in building their own ABS technology. But Chrysler's Sure Brake anti-skid was the most advanced of these and was a shift from the technology offered by the Dunlop Maxaret. In fact, the Sure Brake was the platform upon which modern-day ABS was based on, as it offered ABS function for each of the four wheels independently.

As development in sensors and other technology became easily available, the installation of ABS in cars became a lot more widespread. In fact, Mercedes-Benz made the ABS a standard feature in all its cars as early as 1987, and currently, every vehicle that leaves a production plant comes standard with the ABS.

3. Advantages of the ABS

We have discussed the advantages of the ABS, but for the purpose of clarity, we will list out the few known advantages of this revolutionary automobile system;

  • ABS improves vehicle safety by effectively allowing for vehicle steering even during braking.
  • It is very effective at reducing the braking distance of a car.
  • It improves safety by eliminating wheel locking.
  • Reduces tire wheel that resulted from wheel locking.

Look out for the advantages and  ABS diagram in the following video

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

4. Symptoms of a malfunctioning ABS

When it comes to ABS, there are some very basic signs that will indicate that something is not just going right with the system and it is not performing according to the ABS manufacturer's specification. The following are the possible symptoms that will suggest that the ABS is malfunctioning;

  • ABS Warning Light comes up on the instrument display which is a good sign the ABS control module has issues
  • You begin to notice unresponsive behavior from the brakes
  • You notice that the brake pedals require extra effort to engage
  • The brakes become locked in a position


An ABS control module is critical to the proper functioning of the ABS

5. ABS price in Nigeria

In Nigeria, it's a bit difficult to get a brand new ABS control module, rather it is generally imported from foreign markets. So our market is rather filled with used versions of the ABS control module. You can expect that the prices for the used models will be less than the brand new imported parts. The table below gives a highlight of the prices of the various used versions of an ABS control module here in Nigeria.

 Vehicle Make  Price Range of ABS Complete Pump (Direct Replacement)
 Honda  ₦150,000 - ₦350,000
 Toyota  ₦200,000 - ₦450,000
 Mercedes-Benz  ₦300,000 - ₦550,000

This brief list above is for the most popular brands in Nigeria. But you can be sure that you can get even cheaper replacement parts at some spare part auto shops across the country. The big question though is, Is it possible to upgrade car brake to ABS?. Maybe you should click that link to learn more!!!

6. Where to buy ABS Parts in Nigeria

There are some well-known auto spare parts shops across the country we generally recommend when it comes to buying trusted replacement parts. These include the various ABS replacement parts like the ABS sensor, ABS Module, etc. You can also have a look at our 10 best websites to buy car parts online in Nigeria, to help you with your next online purchase. Check out the list below.

  • Kamsi Parts
  • Ladipo Market
  • Motoparts Arena
  • Autofactorng
  • Car Parts Nigeria

You can easily get tokunbo/Belgium replacement parts by going physically to some of these well known spare part markets listed here below;

  • Ladipo market
  • Ikoku market in Portharcourt
  • Onitsha spare part market
  • Aba spare parts market


Ikoku spare parts market is an automobile spare parts hub in Port Harcourt city 

7. Best cars with ABS to buy in Nigeria

The following is a list of some of the best cars you can buy in Nigeria that come with an ABS system pre-installed 


Guess you've learned a whole lot when it comes to What is ABS? Why it's important? to have one properly installed in your car. These days they come as a standard feature in cars, along with traction control system,  electronic stability control (ESC) and tire pressure monitoring system. If you found this informative, please do well to share it with others.

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Henry Egan

Henry Egan


Henry Egan a poet, essayist, content writer, blogger and technical writer who is willing to read just that last material to develop the best content possible. Henry feels he is more of a new generation writer with a sassy and swanky style. You can be sure you'll get all the facts in and never get bored with his articles.

He has got a flair for technical reviews on automobile and cars. He studied Mechanical Engineering but his first love remains Literary Art.

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