When you need to stop in a hurry, ABS brakes are one of the automotive industries best innovations. ABS, also known as an anti-lock braking system, helps your vehicle avoid skidding when you apply the brakes. By avoiding the lock of your wheels, and allowing your wheels to maintain interactive traction with the road, ABS brakes are known to improve control while stopping. Most new model car rentals, and almost all you'll find with CRX's independent rental car companies, will feature ABS brakes. So how can you tell if your vehicle has ABS brakes, and how do you use them? Here are some tips.
How Will I Know if My Rental Car has ABS?
The quickest way to know if your rental car vehicle has ABS brakes is to ask your independent rental car consultant. If he or she isn't sure, simply check the vehicle's owner's manual. After you discover whether or not your car rental is equipped with ABS brakes, it's then important to know how anti-lock brakes operate. As well, if you're renting an SUV or van, you should ask whether your vehicle has two-wheel or four-wheel ABS, as this will impact how your vehicle handles during a sudden stop.
When Will the ABS Brakes Kick in
During normal braking, such as coming to a stop at a stop sign, you'll never know the difference between anti-lock brakes and traditional brakes. Anti-lock, or ABS brakes, only come into play when you are experiencing hard braking, which occurs during an emergency or panic stop. When your anti-lock brakes in your rental car vehicle activate, you will almost instantly feel a vibration in the pedal as your brakes are now rapidly pulsating to help control your vehicle and bring you to a safe stop. As well, you're likely to here a buzzing sound, or an unusual noise associated with this process. When this happens, keep the brake applied, as your ABS brakes are functioning properly. If you have never used or applied ABS brakes before, this can be an unusual occurrence and may startle you. Be prepared and know this is normal.
What Happens on Wet or Snow Covered Roads?
One myth about ABS brakes is that they will significantly decrease your stopping distance. ABS brakes will allow you to stop in a similar time and distance compared to normal brakes; the main advantage is that ABS brakes greatly enhance your ability to navigate your vehicle during a sudden stop. On dry, solid roads, ABS brakes may slightly decrease the stopping distance in your rental car, but it is not significant. On wet, gravel, or snow covered roads, anti-lock brakes do actually increase your stopping distance once activated; however, the greatest advantages is still the ability to steer your vehicle away from a hazard. The best way to safely stop is to drive defensively. Slow down in poor driving conditions, leave additional space between your car rental and the vehicle in front of you, and keep your eyes on the road, regularly checking your mirrors.
Steer Yourself in the Right Direction
While ABS brakes don't allow you to stop quicker in most instances, the improved handling and navigation is undeniable. Without ABS brakes, cars in a rapid stop often skid, and no amount of steering will help you avoid a collision or obstacle. Once your ABS brakes have activated, you will still be able to turn your vehicle; however, it should be done gradually. Avoid jerking your steering wheel or sudden alterations.
If you are unfamiliar with anti-lock brakes, ask your independent rental car specialist for assistance and information about this important safety feature before leaving your starting location. The more you know, the safer your travels will be!