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Having looked at essential electrical skills and multiplexing in previous articles, we now turn to another subject to assist the workshop technician in the development of electrical and electronic diagnostic skills: ABS. This will be covered in three parts - principles, systems and diagnostics. ABS is designed to prevent wheel/tyre lock-up under heavy braking as a locked wheel decelerates less effectively. The origins of anti-lock brakes go back to the 1930s but it was not until the 1960s/70s that they became more widely used, and then only on top of the range cars. From the mid to late 80s, anti-lock braking systems became cheaper to produce and were then made available on entry-level cars. is lost if the steered wheels lock up. Anti-lock braking systems control the hydraulic pressure acting on individual wheel cylinders/brake callipers to prevent the wheels from locking up under heavy braking.

Slip ratio is a means of calculating and expressing the locking status of a wheel and is vital to the effectiveness of any anti-lock braking system. When a vehicle is being driven along a road in a straight line its wheels rotate at virtually identical speeds. The vehicles body also travels along the road at this same speed. When the driver applies the brakes in order to slow the vehicle, the speed of the wheels becomes slightly slower than the speed of the body, which is travelling along under its own inertia. This difference in speed is expressed as a percentage, and is called slip ratio. The ideal slip ratio for maximum deceleration is 10 to 30%. Slip ratio is calculated as follows: Slip Ratio % = Vehicle Speed Wheel Speed x 100 Vehicle Speed A locked wheel would calculate as follows: Slip Ratio % = 60 0 (locked) x 100 60 Answer = 100% A freely rotating wheel: Slip Ratio % = 60 60 (free to rotate) x 100 60 Answer = 0% Maximum deceleration achieved (tolerance of 10 30% slip): Slip Ratio % = 60 48 (wheel braked) x 100 60 Answer = 20%


It is often quoted that a good driver will always be able to stop a car in a shorter distance than an equivalent ABS equipped car. This may have been true with early systems but it is no longer the case. A driver with a non-ABS equipped car has a single pedal with which to control all four brakes in an attempt to achieve maximum deceleration conditions. Even with cadence braking techniques (pumping the pedal), this is no match for a system that can affect individual control of all four wheels and change the braking conditions of each of these as many as 60 times every second!

Braking is achieved through friction being generated at two points: 1. Friction between the brake linings and the brake drums/discs. 2. Friction that exists between the tyre and the road. Braking can be controlled in a stable manner as long as the friction created between the tyre and the road surface is greater than that between the brake linings and brake drums/discs. If the opposite is true, then the wheels will lock up. When lock up occurs, the friction between the road and the contact patch will change in nature it becomes dynamic friction (moving) rather than static friction i.e. the contact patch is being dragged across the road surface rather than laid onto it. Think about this: If a vehicle is doing 60mph (brakes not applied), how fast are the contact patches going? 0 mph they are stationary in relation to the road and the road is not moving at all: static friction. If the same vehicle now locks its brakes, how fast are the contact patches going? The same speed as the vehicle: dynamic friction. Dynamic friction generates much less grip than static friction so stopping distances increase significantly and directional control

ABS is an electronic control system. It therefore consists of an ECU (computer) that is responsible for making decisions and controlling the brakes based on these decisions. If control is to be effective, these decisions must be well informed. Keeping the ECU informed of conditions applicable to brake control are the sensors. The sensors are the information gatherers. Brake control is affected by the ABS ECU through the application of the slip ratio formula. The ECU has been programmed with this formula and will apply it when the ABS is operating. In



order for the ABS ECU to use the slip ratio formula it must be told wheel speed and vehicle speed. We therefore need wheel speed sensors and a vehicle speed sensor. In reality the wheel speed sensors provide sufficient information for the ECU to calculate vehicle speed through the use of an average, so an independent vehicle speed sensor is not required. The ABS ECU must have a means of actually altering braking pressure applied to the brakes and for this it uses an ABS actuator (sometimes referred to as a modulator).

is not equipped with ABS. This is due to the fact that a vehicle without ABS locks its wheels and therefore creates a snow plough effect i.e. snow builds up in front of the locked tyre slowing it down, which cannot happen on an ABS equipped vehicle. It should also be noted that no matter how advanced such systems become, the laws of physics still apply! If there is no grip available, the ABS cannot create it.

Through this article we have seen that anti-lock braking systems use a simple formula to improve braking efficiency in emergencies. In part 2 we will study the systems found on modern motor vehicles to see the different ways that manufacturers apply the theory discussed here. If you would like to study anti-lock braking systems in more detail we would be delighted to provide you with a place on one of our technical courses. Please see details below on how to contact us. ProAuto is an automotive technical training company based in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, that runs courses from numerous select venues nationally. For further details, visit, email, or telephone 01743 709679.

It should be noted that when a vehicle is driven on slippery or snowy roads, it might actually have a longer stopping distance than one that

A Fiat Punto 1.2 is misfiring both at idle and at speed. There are no fault codes found, and spark plugs have been replaced with manufacturers recommendations, together with crank sensor and HT coil. I think the problem is with the ignition system because the primary scope trace shows some missing on numbers 2 and 3 cylinders. The ECU is the most likely cause. Send it for testing first, and if your unit is reconditioned then you will not have the problem of re-coding. Alternatively you could buy a free-running ECU that does not make use of the immobiliser system to work. The radiator fans on a Peugeot 406 run all the time, but I cant find what controls them. I disconnected the two temperature sensors, to no effect. The car is fitted with air conditioning is the air con model meant to do this? No. The cooling fans are switched from a bitron ECU that is under a plastic cover on the inner near side front wheel arch. This is a common failure point on the 406, causing the fans to be switched full on. A customers 1.5 diesel Corsa is a real pig to start in the mornings. Sometimes the battery goes flat before it will start. The engine is an Isuzu model. We have fitted new glow plugs with very little

improvement. The starter motor gave out on us as well, probably because of all the abuse it had in the mornings. We have also checked for air in the fuel line to the pump there was a little; changing the fuel filter cured this but not the problem. Check compressions on all cylinders. Expect about 400 psi. If you find all or some cylinders a lot less than this then the cause is almost certainly tight valve clearances. On the Isuzu engine the valves recess into the head with age. Often the inlets are fine its just the exhausts need re-shimming, no doubt due to the higher temperatures here. The Isuzu valve clearances should be checked every 20,000 miles. If left too long then there may be burnt valves to replace as well. Before removal of the shims record all the valve clearances, and keep shims in order so you can take the offending ones to the machine shop for surface grinding to size. (This may be the most economical way to do the job as the last time we did one the dealer wanted to sell us a shim selection kit). A V6 Omega is overheating badly. So far we have fitted a new thermostat and radiator, to no avail. I dont think the fault is due to the water pump because there is a good water flow through the radiator, so I suspect the head gasket. Is there any way to determine which head is at fault? I really wouldnt advise doing just the one cylinder head while it may be perfectly OK afterwards, there is a chance that whatever made the first head go has weakened the second head. To find which head is