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June 28, 1999 Article
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Continued from last week.

As I promised last week I will get into a few things that people SHOULD know including some information on ABS Brake Systems.

Awhile ago I read an interesting article in a paper that had been written by a well-known Automotive Journalist. This article was about how HE had crashed a vehicle he was driving, into the back end of another vehicle in front of him. He explained how he had just started to drive the car and it was cold and still on a fast idle and he suggested that it was because of the faster idle that the vehicle would not stop in time. This vehicle was equipped with Anti-lock brakes. He went on to say how the Anti-lock brakes or the lack of them would not of prevented the accident but he failed to mention what WOULD of prevented the accident. I found it rather interesting that a man with his driving experience would NOT know one of the most basic rules of controlling a vehicle and that is to GET IT OUT OF GEAR. If he would have just kicked the vehicle into neutral, he should have been able to stop and avoided the collision.

ANTI-LOCK brakes will not help a vehicle stop BETTER than conventional brakes except in conditions where the conventional brakes would LOCK UP. A GOOD experienced driver can stop a vehicle just as fast with conventional brakes as the Anti-lock systems can. (In most cases.) Anti-lock brakes were made to assist drivers who may not know how to apply brakes and counter steer etc. and for times of instant panic when the brain does not work like it should.

BUT, EVERYONE SHOULD READ THE OWNERS MANUAL FOR PROPER INSTRUCTIONS IN THE USE AND APPLICATION OF THE DIFFERENT ABS SYSTEMS. I know of a lot of people who are disabling their Anti-lock systems because they don't like the FEEL of them in operation. I would like to take this opportunity to warn people AGAINST doing such things. Anti-lock brake systems are considered a SAFETY DEVICE and as far as I know it is still against the Law in most places to tamper with a Safety device. In other words if you have disabled your Anti-lock system, have an accident and an investigation shows that the system has been disabled, YOU MAY BE FOUND LIABLE AND COULD POSSIBLY NEGATE ANY INSURANCE COVERAGE.

I have seen a lot of people who have disabled their system because the light kept coming on, which means there is a problem with the system, and they don't want to pay to get the system fixed properly. That could prove a VERY EXPENSIVE saving of a few dollars. The Red ABS light does come on when you first turn on the ignition as a bulb test so that you know the bulb is working. Some systems are designed to FLASH the light when there is a problem detected and to warn the driver that the system may not operate as designed. Other systems just turn the light on when there is a problem detected. In either case, if the light comes on there IS a problem and the vehicle should be taken in for a diagnosis and repair AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. But, just like any other computer-controlled device on your vehicle, it MAY NOT be cheap to fix. The Safety of the vehicle you drive IS your responsibility and you are Legally required to maintain the vehicle in a SAFE condition. Once again the light is RED because it does mean a potentially dangerous situation could occur.

More next week on other warning lights.

"TOOT" Rick "The Wrench" - June 28th,1999
Copyright of Rick The Wrench, 1999

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