There are two main types of braking systems that are used to slow and stop your car. While both power brakes and anti-lock brakes have been around for decades, anti-lock systems were mostly used for heavy machinery and aircraft in the military. Now, power brake systems are being replaced by anti-lock brake systems in cars because they allow better control of the vehicle during a hard stop.
Power Brake Systems
With power brake systems, part of the vacuum produced by your engine is harnessed to trigger a set of valves to put pressure on pistons that eventually force the brake pads against the rim of the wheel and cause the vehicle to come to a gradual stop. While pushing the brake pedal is enough to move the valves and pistons within the system, the force from the engine’s vacuum adds power to the system that allows it to function more efficiently.
Anti-Lock Brake Systems
Anti-lock braking systems use sensors to monitor how fast the wheels are spinning. The information is relayed immediately to a processor. The series of pumps and valves within the processor begin to exert metered force to each wheel bringing it to a gradual halt. By controlling the amount of force used on each tire, the wheel is prevented from locking up and sending the car into a skid.
Both systems are extremely effective, but anti-lock brakes allow safe stopping and prevent dangerous skids. ABS systems are long-lasting and are likely to last as long as or longer than your vehicle. If, however, your ABS light comes on while you are driving, it could indicate a sensor is not working well and needs to be checked out.
Both systems were considered options at one point. Now, both systems are readily available on many makes and models of vehicles.