ABS - Love it or Leave it?

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Mar 28, 2016
burlington ,ontario, canada
Not a huge fan especially in the winter. Below are some of my experiences: Early 90's, chevy cavalier rental, first experience. Blew through a stop sign on a bumpy dirt backroad. ~96, friends Chevy Astro, sheet ice in the parking lot. Wouldn't stop but continued creeping after starting from higher idle. Had to put it in neutral to stop in time. Current car with factory Bridgestone Turanza EL-400 AS (since replaced). First snowfall In early December 2016 just prior to putting on my winters (Gislaved Nordfrost 100). Braking performance was downright dangerous. Had to use my handbrake for more effective low speed braking.
Are you using it correctly? You're just supposed to plant your foot on the brake and let the ABS do it's thing. Otherwise for me it's been fine. For me it's been fine. I did blow through a stop sign once on black ice. Planted my foot and it keep pulsing all the way through the sign. I was able to turn the steering wheel as you had to turn right after the sign. That wouldn't work if the front brakes were locked. Both my cars now have ABS, traction control and stability control as standard equipment.
I haven't yet had a reason to make use of ABS capability, but I do see that drivers like me - who didn't have a car with ABS until 2012 - might still have a tendency to try to brake the way we were conditioned. I had learned on both my prior vehicles what the lockup point was and how to avoid it. I realize that ABS will do all that for me, better than I could do it myself, but I still need to practice pedal to the floor stops to break my paradigm.
Leave it. Pretty much your experiences. I drive in snow and a locked tire plows snow in front of itself which creates more friction. The only scenario I'd like it would be at highway speeds if I have one side with more traction than the other, like on a crowned road shedding rain. However the traction control that comes with ABS, that locks the spinning tire so the other side grabs, is impressive and useful.
I think all ABS systems are different. The one of my Ford work truck SUCKS. It seems so archaic in design. It literally "vibrates" and shakes the pedal. But the ABS on my 300ZX doesn't affect the pedal at all. Last time I had it engage was many years ago. I was driving north up hwy 6 (where the speed limit is 75). I had the cruise on about 80. Middle of the day,I'm the only car on the road. I see an object way up ahead on the road between the two lanes (it was a two lane rural hwy back then). I gently place my foot over the brake pedal just because. Soon as I get close I see it's a puppy sleeping on the highway. He looks up at me and leisurely gets up and begins to walk across the hwy. I hit the brake pedal as hard as I can and my car comes to a complete stop instantly. No pedal vibration,noise,nothing. Just a precision and precise clean and smooth as silk stop! He looks up at me,yaws,and slowly walks across in front of me haha. I was going to get him and take him home with me,but he proceeded to walk to field and walk away.
Leave it. Only bad experience with ABS for me was in early stages of application. In particular, many moons ago: 1991 Chevrolet Caprice Police Pkg (the ***** road-whale body style...) Trying to brake it down on approach to clear an intersection running code 3, RR crossing right there, the ABS seemed to chit itself and carry the pulsing way past the tracks.
I personally wouldn't consider owning a car or truck without ABS. I've felt mine doing it's job in several of my vehicles on both wet and dry roads. My next motorcycle will have ABS as well.
Having driven both I know how to brake safely with both. I still prefer ABS because as long as you hold the wheel straight and plant your foot into the floor the vehicle should keep you as straight as possible and brake as quickly as is safely possible. This has been put to the test again and again. Yes the distance might be a little longer but not by much and only to ensure the vehicle doesn't slide or spin-out. Some early ABS was horrible like GM's earlier systems with 3 channels and some manufacturers do it better than others today but there is no question that modern ABS if used correctly will decrease the chance of you spinning out and stop in as little distance as is necessary to safely do so. Now I'm going to hide under this chair because I know what is coming. hide
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I would not shun ABS based on experiences with 20+ year old vehicles. The early systems were rudimentary. The cars I have driven in the 2000s have performed excellent in stopping and control. If you are going too fast to begin with, ABS is not going to save you.
Where I live it doesn't rain or snow, so ABS doesn't get used much. I've locked it up once in my Sonata, stopped really good. The Jeep however.... No ABS and it skids for what seems like forever.
On snow or ice, definitely ABS. Those 90's GM systems were a little too aggressive on wet roads, but on ice they saved me a few times.
I tested rental cars with ABS with the left side on bare pavement and the right on ice and was surprised how well it did. I stay with ABS. But if you real world push any car and have to stop NOW, then nothing will do that on ice and snow. I drive conservatively now, my racy days are over! wink
Originally Posted By: Nick1994
The Jeep however.... No ABS and it skids for what seems like forever.
I agree with the statements that early ABS systems have a lot to be desired. I have a '96 Jeer Cherokee WITH an ABS system and it's worse than one with out. BTW, to the people who have commented that a car with ABS can take longer to brake than one without, that statement is in just about every state driver's handbook that is issued for reading before you take a driver's test.
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Heh heh The ABS on the last E 150 was down right dangerous on a bumpy patch. I haven't had to engage it yet on the Camrys.
Virtually every vehicle I've owned since 1987 has been equipped with ABS- and I haven't had an issue with any of them. The high thresholds in the BMW ABS systems have always suited my driving style. As far as "early" ABS systems go, I have no complaints about the ABS setup in my 1995 Club Sport; it has always worked flawlessly- as did the ABS in the 1987 535is and the 1988 M6 that preceded it. Ditto for the ABS in my 2007 MS3.
ABS good on the road, bad off ... On the street, it'll save your behind more often than not. But off road, it'll get you in big trouble quick. Mud, snow, rocky ledges and drop off's will all cause huge headaches. For many years (decades) I did trail condition assessments for Calif State Parks. I have 10's of thousands of miles of 4x4 off road under my belt. Have seen plenty of folks T bone a tree, because they could not stop, the ABS would not let them ... Sometimes you just have to slide down a rock fall or a mud chute with all four wheels locked, briefly unlocked, then locked again - ABS will not let you. Crawling off a rock ledge with 1 or 2 wheels floating (alternately), the ABS will not let you slow enough and you can get badly hurt and tear up a vehicle when it goes sideways into a boulder or rolls ... State would not let us put a switch on ABS ( frown ), so we just pulled the fuse as soon as we had to put it in 4x4 ... Put the fuse back in when we hit the pavement. No workers comp payout on mod'd trucks ... In a POV, I'd install a switch and turn ABS off (and have a yellow warning light) when off-road. Turn it back on when I hit the pavement smile
ABS on a AWD/2WD sedan or coupe- good- default to on.Should be a hassle do override, but doable. ABS on an off-road 4x4 good on street - needs a rocker or latching switch type off/override for offroad. I like my Titans ABS /off/ latched switch. UD
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