Why ABS is Dangerous (And How to Disable It)

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SOMETIMES, an idea that’s brilliant in theory is completely rubbish in practice. These ideas can include, but are not limited to, Marxist economics, Prohibition of alcohol in the ’30s, New Coke, the Ford Edsel, filling the Hindenburg with hydrogen, building the city of New Orleans below sea level, the chump who sued McDonalds over its hot coffee, high fructose corn syrup, and countless others truly terrible ideas over the years.

Add to that list anti-lock brakes on cars, commonly known as ABS. First commonly used in the early 1970’s on cars, the idea is brilliant in theory. The automaker installs a little speed sensor on each of the four wheels  – and when one or more wheels suddenly stops moving (indicating that the driver has pressed the brake too hard, causing the wheel to ‘lock up’), the car’s computer will over-ride the driver’s braking and release the brake momentarily, enough for the wheel to re-establish traction. Once the wheel is turning normally again, the computer will reapply the brake, rinsing and repeating until the car stops moving. This results in an odd “chirp-chirp-chip” sound coming from the wheels and a serious shudder that is often transmitted through the steering wheel – that’s the ABS working properly.

The reasons for installing these systems appear obvious – it’s vastly more difficult to control a vehicle when the wheels are locked up.

But is it safer? The answer is both yes and no. In the case of most drivers (assuming that we are talking about lowest common denominator here), the answer is probably yes. Today’s road driving test (as of 2005 when I took mine, at any rate) consisted of about fifteen minutes in a parking lot along with some time on back residential streets with a police officer riding shotgun. They didn’t teach me how to correct understeer, how to properly rock the car out of snow, or what to do when the car begins to skid.

To be fair to the DMV – it is probably on page 129 of the driving manual that you can pick up as a “study aid” before taking the written test. But does everyone actually take this to heart – and go apply it in a safe, empty parking lot so he or she knows how to react in an actual emergency?

The answer to that is, sadly, a decided ‘no’ and thus, in those cases, ABS is better than nothing. When faced with a low traction situation, an inexperienced driver is liable to push on the brakes harder and his bladder empties as he sails into the embankment. ABS corrects this by pumping the brakes for you and allowing someone to maintain a modicum of steering ability while still braking.

Except that stomping on the brakes and leaving your foot there flies in the face of every instruction ever given to you during a driving course or from any experienced driver.

The driver who knows what he’s doing benefits little from ABS. Time spent in an empty parking lot will quickly educate you on what “threshold braking” is – how fully you can press the brakes without locking up the wheels. Knowing your car’s mechanical limits is just as effective as ABS braking – and far safer, since invariably ABS like all mechanical systems fail at some point.

And in cases of limited traction such as snow, ice, and mud – ABS is actually detrimental to your safety, as it significantly (and needlessly) increases stopping distance. In snow or mud, a locked up wheel will dig into the snow – and provide considerable stopping power. If ABS prevents the wheel from locking in this case, almost no braking will occur. Consider the following situation, which happened to yours truly just today.

ABS Fail

The driver is going down a snowy road at 25 MPH (position 1 on my crude Paint drawing). He wants to turn right into Wal-Mart, so he begins getting on the brakes and after a few seconds begins to turn right into the side street. Problem is, his car has ABS (red line, position 2). ABS prevents the wheels from locking up, so they continue to spin freely – and there’s no braking happening.

In about two seconds, yours truly is still doing 25 MPH, and his right-turn isn’t producing the intended result, because the wheels have insufficient traction to turn the car at 25 MPH in the snow. And traction control – the mirror machinery of ABS that prevents wheels from spinning when you floor the gas pedal – prevented me from gunning it, getting traction, and forcing the vehicle to the right. So he sails directly into the embankment. (Position 3, red line). But-for the ABS preventing proper braking, he would have slowed considerably before the critical moment – and could have made the turn (position 3, blue line).

I spent the next ten minutes with a shovel, trying to clear enough snow to give myself a path out.

You could fairly say that I shouldn’t have taken the turn at that speed – and you would probably be correct. But that doesn’t change that I had the ability to correct any error, any spin, and any wheel locking – and that the ability was negated by a “safety” feature.

And that, friends, is unacceptably dangerous. I wouldn’t mind if the car had an “ABS override” or “traction control override” – but increasingly, cars do not have a button on the dashboard to this effect. In fact, Federal law mandated that all cars model year 2012 and later must include ABS and other “safety” features, ostensibly to reduce crashes.

Which leads me to the final premise of this article – how does the minority of drivers who are actually educated on how to drive in emergency situations defeat these “safety” features that just invariably get us into trouble?

In seven years of driving, I’ve owned three cars – the first lacked ABS, it was broken from day one in the second car, and only the third has functioning ABS. Which I will be disabling as soon as possible. I’ve had many, many close calls with other cars in that seven years – and I successfully avoided them all without the help of ABS. This system will get me into more trouble than it’s worth.

The most effective method (and the crudest) is simply to pull the corresponding fuse. Most cars have their fuse box under the glove box on the front passenger’s side, although this can vary. All fuse boxes will come with an accompanying diagram that illustrates which fuse serves which device on the vehicle. Consider this sample fuse box, taken from a Volkswagen Beetle.

NewBeetleFuseCard To disable ABS in the Beetle, just pull fuse #9 and you’re good to go. The ABS light will likely light up on your dashboard. Ignore it. If it bothers you, then I’ll gladly sell you some electrical tape to cover it up. Now take that car to an empty parking lot and educate yourself on what it can (and cannot) do.

Happy Motoring.

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152 Responses to Why ABS is Dangerous (And How to Disable It)

  1. Paul Kasanda says:

    “Mechanic”:
    I love your example of seat belts and air bags. Passive restraint seat belt resulted in numerous decapitations. The industry was lobbying to make them mandatory despite the deaths. Consumer outcry and lawsuits thankfully resulted in the eradication of passive restraint seat belts. Your advice to the families of decapitated vehicle occupants would be — “check your owners manuals”?

    Air bags! Another excellent example. They too resulted in numerous decapitations, mostly of children. In one cases this happened at less than 4 mph in a grocery store parking lot. If I recall correctly, airbags were already mandatory at the time of these deaths. The industry was forced to re-engineer airbags to sense the weight of occupants. Again, it was consumer outrage and law suits that brought this change. The advice to accept a technology just because its in the owners manual is not supported by history.

    While I cannot find the video online, it was either W5 or The Fifth Estate that reported the deaths of two state troopers when their car slid off the road into a ravine. They were unable to slow down in advance of a sharp curve. The vehicle that they were in pursuit of did not have ABS and had no difficulty navigating the same curve just moments in advance. The cause of the accident was deemed to be the ABS braking system. The original air date was between 1998 and 200x.

    Many Police departments subsequently disconnected ABS on all cruisers. Today, police interceptors sold by GM, Ford and others are sold with what is called “Police Calibrated ABS”. I believe one difference is that these systems do not operate below 8 MPH but there may be other differences including allowing for substantial wheel lock. ABS on cars sold in Australia is calibrated differently to allow wheels to lock on loose gravel surfaces. With out this calibration. numerous Auzzies complained that they had no brakes most of the time. ABS brakes are disconnected on every Rally race car. The disconnection is voluntary but every driver does it becasue it is the only way to survive a rally race. ABS brakes have been banned on formula one cars since 1990.

    Outside of police departments, Australians, and race car drivers, car drivers have been compelled to drive vehicles that are considered unsafe by the aforementioned.

  2. Gerald Ulmer says:

    I have had problems with every cars braking system with ABS. They are a sever safety hazard to all drivers except ‘Blue haired old ladies who most likely shouldn’t be driving anyway.”

  3. Julie Garcia says:

    To the author. Do some research on the elderly woman that sued McDonald’s for hot coffee. She was severly burned and suffered third-degree Burns and disfigured in the genitalia area. She was only asking for $20,000 to cover her medical expenses and loss of income. Here’s a story you can read https://www.caoc.org/?pg=facts

    • Dave says:

      To Julie, I’m guessing the elderly lady spilled her coffee because her ABS kicked in and she couldn’t stop her car. 🙂 Seriously – ABS is not good. Go ahead and hit a pothole on a clear summer day with totally clear roads and jump on your brakes because something or someone is right in front of your car, let your ABS kick in and, depending on your speed, it will take anywhere from 5 – 25 feet longer to stop than if you didn’t have ABS. I know, because it has happened to me. If ABS is so good, how come it’s not on race cars that are driven by professional drivers? People who drive around race tracks at 200mph know that their lives are on the line at every second, if ABS was good, they’d all use it – but they don’t. Hmmmm.

      • Carlos says:

        Even though I agree with you in the pothole example (been through the same situation but corrected it by braking harder), ABS is not allowed on formula cars because it makes it easier for the drivers. Just like traction control and automatic transmission.

      • bn880 says:

        Actually it was not allowed on F1 cars as it was making it “easier” yes, but also it was making it automated and boring removing competition between drivers and moving it into technology. Plus drivers lost some control of the vehicle by a pre determined automatic system. Additionally, the systems in F1 were not exactly the same as you get in road cars, and nobody really dug deep into the issue of ABS in unrecoverable spins and loss of directional control. (AFAIK) ABS was not on the cars for too long.

      • Paul K says:

        How many F1 circuits have pot holes, ice, sand, gravel, or snow? None. Therefore, any 1994 determination by the F1 circuit on ABS is irrelevant to modern-day concerns about ABS safety when ABS brakes cause drivers to overshoot icy intersections, find themselves unable to slow down prior to an icy curve, loose all brakes over pot holes, and to experience only a fraction of potential braking power on wet surfaces.

        The relevance of ABS on F1 circuits to the relevance of ABS in city traffic reminds me of the original mid 90’s studies on ABS safety.

        The studies that included adverse road conditions (like gravel and snow) found that accidents on ABS equipped vehicles was higher. The only studies that arrived at a more neutral conclusion were rigged. The method of rigging the data was by excluding adverse conditions and also by excluding the most popular three models of vehicles. I’m referring to the US government NTSA studies. The official rational for the model exclusion was that these three highest selling volume models somehow attracted bad drivers. That of course makes no sense because some of those models were ABS equipped and some were not.

        If indeed bad drives gravitated towards certain models then their accident rates should have been split equally between ABS and Non-ABS. The obvious conclusion is that the “scientists” were cherry picking the data to find some combination of cars that would allow them to arrive at the conclusion that ABS equipped vehicle accident rates were just a little higher, but not significantly higher. So they eliminated the three models that did have significantly higher accident rates for ABS but they never published just how significant. Potentially, the most popular vehicles may have had 20 or 30 percent higher accident rates and those numbers were withheld.

        Remember that a first set of NTSHA studies did find significantly higher ABS accident rates and that this finding caused the NTSHA to reverse its decision to make ABS mandatory on US vehicles. A second round of studies that cherry picked the data was not able to find ABS brakes were safer. Instead, the cherry picking technique was used to arrive at the conclusion that ABS accident rates were higher, just not significantly higher. And even though the obvious conclusion of this study was that mandatory ABS brakes would not decrease accident rates, ABS still became mandatory.

        ABS became mandatory as a result of industry lobbying. Typically that involves campaign contributions (AKA) bribes. The fact that the scientists tried so hard to cherry pic the data to arrive at a less negative conclusion suggests that their findings were primarily a representation of the conclusion that they were told to arrive at.

      • Dave says:

        Beautifully stated. Bottom line is always the almighty dollar. Somebody in power was making money by enforcing ABS be put on cars.

      • bn880 says:

        I don’t think it’s just business, it’s that for bad drivers ABS is on average better than no ABS. And most people on the roads are terrible drivers in terms of car control skill.

      • Paul K says:

        Every driver is a bad driver when they are headed towards an icy intersection or a stopped vehicle with no brakes. The idea that bad drivers are better off with little or no ability to brake is just silly.

        Bad drivers have poor attention, they drive too fast, and they underestimate stopping distance. What do you think happens when depending on the road surface the ABS braking distance increases 20% to 100% compared to conventional brakes. These bad drivers have more accidents when their braking power is curtailed.

        Most accidents are intersection collisions and rear-end collisions. Whether a driver is good or bad, ABS makes these collisions more likely, and more sever.

        The only drivers who might avoid an accident via ABS interventions are those who would stand on the brake pedal on a slippery surface with no effort to modulate the brake force.
        Is it not outrageous that this is exactly what ABS brakes teach drivers to do. The ABS industry has succeeded in denying the majority of drivers the opportunity to learn the critical collision avoidance skills of emergency braking and threshold braking (two different skills). They have turned every driver into an under skilled driver. They have made every new car less capable of stopping in time to avoid a collision.

        The new generation of drivers has no idea what they are missing. If you drove in the 70’s and 80’s, then you may know how bad ABS brakes are. The industry is erasing the knowledge and skill to differentiate. The next generation of drivers lacks the knowledge to recognize that vast numbers of collisions, injuries and deaths would not be happening if ABS had never been invented or if ABS was removed.

      • Paul K says:

        Also, the 1994 NTSHA study that cherry picked the data in order to conclude ABS accident rates increased only moderately, needed to exclude accident statistics for the three most popular models. If they did not do that, the finding would have been a significantly higher accident rate on ABS equipped North American vehicles.

        The justification for the cherry picking was that these three models attracted bad drivers which caused unreasonably high accident rates on the ABS equipped vehicles. Note that some of the excluded vehicles were ABS equipped and some were not. So think about it. If indeed those models attracted bad drivers, it would prove that bad drivers have more accidents in ABS equipped vehicles compared to other bad drivers driving the exact same cars that were manufactured without ABS.

        So, what you were saying about bad drivers being better off with ABS…it’s really just speculation. No one has attempted to measure or prove the accuracy of the statement. And the last broadly based North American comparison of ABS vs. non-ABS accident rates indirectly demonstrated the fallacy of any assumed advantage that ABS brakes might bring to bad drivers.

        When ABS brakes first appeared on New York taxis, accident rates on ABS equipped taxis skyrocketed. The authors of the study rationalized that the drivers of ABS equipped taxis must have been so over confident in their amazing ABS brakes that the over confidence was solely responsible for the increase in accidents. Of course that’s absurd. But that’s what they said.

        What the taxi study really proved is that extremely experienced and skilled drivers, are also much worse off with ABS brakes.

      • Tikc says:

        I know this is an old post but saying professional drivers don’t need an item a typical on roax drive does is rather backwards in what you are trying to say. The professional should need less controls. ABS is not meant to help you stop is the big point most people here are missing. It is designed to help you maintain control. Once in a skid you lose steering for the most part. ABS is designed to allow maneuvering in panic brake situations.

        I worked for an automotive supplier specifically for ABS modules my last couple years of college and can truly say you don’t understand how it is meant to work if you think you are meant to just hold the pedal down and lock your grip on the steering wheel. The story above in the snow happened because of a bad driver judging stopping distance.

  4. shahzad says:

    my abs is leaking break oil. whats the solution.

  5. Christopher K White says:

    Thank you for your article and you are so right. I drive a Jeep Compass and it was the first time driving it in snow. I live in Connecticut; just going slow I tried to stop and the ABS kicked in and not only did it sound hard on my brakes but I couldn’t stop. I kept sliding and almost hit the vehicle in front of me. This was heading into a Stop & Shop parking lot. Pulled the fuse today. No more, im 47 and know how to drive.

    • Gerald D Ulmer says:

      Amen to no more mandatory ABS brakes! If they want to place them on vehicles on the road for people who can’t drive worth a crap; that’s fine. But I worked 37 years in the automotive repair trade, have been driving since 1967, and almost all of my problems with slick or icy roads has been with ABS braking systems.
      If the government want’s to put them on cars for people who freeze up in critical situations to avoid collisions, then put and ‘OFF’ switch in the car for those of us that know how to drive.
      Knock on wood, but I have 50 plus years with “NO” accidents from my driving.

  6. Heather says:

    I have a 2013 Kia Soul and abs kicks on all the time rain or snow. I feel like I have no control and makes it worse..thinking I should disable it?.

    • Gerald D Ulmer says:

      Since it would be illegal for me to tell you what to do, I won’t. But I have had constant problems with ABS systems on ‘MANY’ cars. If and where I can, I remove the fuse and throw it in the glove box. Then I just ignore the dash lite telling me that the abs isn’t working. To each his own.

    • Paul K says:

      Disclaimer: Disconnecting your ABS brakes will dramatically reduce your stopping distances significantly reduce your likelihood of driving in to the back of a stopped vehicle or coasting into an active intersection. If you elect to disconnect your ABS brakes you should be willing to accept the above risks. Also, in many cases, cruise control may no longer work and you may have an orange warning light appear on your dashboard.

      Depending on your vehicle there are three different methods:
      1) Remove the ABS fuse
      2) Remove the ABS relay

      In newer vehicles, the above two solutions may put the vehicle into “limp mode”. This means you won’t be able to accelerate faster than a snail or drive faster than a cow.

      Method 3:
      Disconnect one ABS wheel sensor. The connector can usually be found behind the wheel-well cover and is usually located within two feet of wire leading from the Brake calipers. Waterproof the connectors with silicone grease and heat shrink tubing to prevent corrosion to the contacts. This will ensure that the contacts can be reconnected when you sell your vehicle.

      You will likely loose cruise control 😦
      VCS will stop working 🙂
      Cross traffic alerts and radar based automatic braking may also stop working 😦
      However, you will be able to brake based on your own decisions

      If none of the above solutions work for you then keep in mind that you can override the ABS brake on the read of your vehicle by using the parking brake. Its something that you would want to practice in an icy parking lot before you tried it on the road. However it is a skill that could save your life if ABS won’t let you stop and you are heading to an active intersection. If your car has AWD then the Parking brake trick will also have the effect of overriding some ABS on the front wheels via the transmission. The effect is greater on manual transmission vehicles but is also noticeable on Automatics.

  7. Heather says:

    Also, even when the pavement is dry and I’m slowing down to a stop the abs kicks on…I feel so unsafe.

    • Paul K says:

      Heather:

      See my reply to your orignal post for methods of disconnecting ABS brakes. Also there was a typo. I meant you could manually override the ABS on the REAR of the vehicle using the parking brake. Also, check your tires. Over inlfated tires or old or worn or poor quality tires will make ABS brakes even more dangerous than they usually are.

  8. Last evening I tested my car on ice and snow…it is the first time I own a car with ABS…I went on a country road where there was no traffic and tested the brakes…the ABS kept the wheels from locking so much that it was like NOT applying the brakes at all!!!…it was scary as hell!!! it was like driving a car that has NO brakes at all !!!…….insane !!!….

    all my previous cars were without ABS and I have always been a good driver ( some of my friends would say an excellent driver as I used to do crazy stunts and never lost control/had an accident ) I have always been able to apply just enough pressure on the brake pedal to bring the wheels a hair trigger from locking up , and if one locks I was always able to release the pedal ever so gently to unlock a wheel…..

    ..I have to disable the ABS on Kia Forte 2010 or that car will kill me, the ABS on that car takes away over 80 % of the braking power… yes 80% I am not exaggerating, the car was coasting not braking.

    .I can not believe this is considered a safety feature…….I understand it keeps the car from skidding or spinning and doing a 180 ( for drivers who are not good drivers), but it also assures that you will hit whatever is in front of you because about 80 % of the braking is gone….yes about 80 % of the braking is gone….I should make a video of this…it is INSANE and scary as hell….it is like driving a car that has NO brakes at all….I repeat; coasting would accomplish the same.

    problem is my car has three – yes 3 – ABS fuses…

    I wonder which one I have to remove and I wonder if it will cause problems…like disable other things I need like the speedometer?

    • briannystrom says:

      I have a 2012 Hyundai Elantra and the system in your car is probably similar.
      I found the 10A fuse marked “ABS” under the hood (#13 in the diagram in the box on my car). Pulling that fuse disables the ABS/TCS, exactly as I hoped. When braking or accelerating on a loose surface, it feels like a “normal” car, which is a relief. I can finally feel what’s going on at the road surface.

      However, it has some other side-effects:
      – The ABS, TCS and Brake lights on the dash come on. I expected the first two, but not the Brake light.
      – The steering response feels lighter, as if it’s no longer speed-sensitive. Apparently this is due to the steering using the same sensors as the ABS.
      – The throttle response is more abrupt, which is quite noticeable when getting on or backing off the throttle. This was definitely unexpected. Perhaps there’s an electronic throttle damper of some sort?

      While I can live with the lights on the dash, the other effects are less acceptable. I may end up putting the fuse back in and either:

      Unplugging the ABS module (and carefully capping both sides)
      or…
      Pulling the ABS1 (40A) fuse and/or the ABS2 (20A) fuse

      If nothing else, it will be interesting to see the difference in the effects. I’ll report back with what I learn.

      • briannystorm,

        Thank you so much for this information, I really appreciate it!

        I have not tried removing any fuses yet, I wanted to know if removing a fuse would trigger the ” limp home mode “or cause other problems.

        and I do not have a garage…the car sits outside in snow and temperatures of minus 25 celcius these days…I do not feel like kneeling in snow and freezing my fingers…I use my car only once or twice a week, I am retired because of health problems

        My 2010 Kia Forte has a switch to turn off the anti-skid…the car runs smoother when it is off, the throttle is more responsive, it feels more natural more like a car is supposed to feel…yes on snow and ice there is more wheel spin but I can control that, I have done it since age 14

        that switch also makes the car accelerate more slowly on dry asphalt…I keep it off 99% of the time as it is a nuisance but not as bad nor as dangerous as ABS is.

        when spring is back and I can work on my car I will find a way of disabling the ABS that causes as little side effect as possible…maybe I will install a switch and only turn it off on ice and snow covered roads where ABS becomes a nuisance that could get me killed

        on dry asphalt I have no problem with ABS

        I have tested the ABS / the brakes on this 2010 Forte on dry asphalt and I can modulate the brake pedal to the point tires starts to howl/squeel a bit yet the ABS is not triggered

        in summer time on dry asphalt my ABS is pretty much never solicited, I do not mind that it is there.

        while in our harsh Canadian winters of thick snow and blue ice the ABS on my car becomes frenetically hyper active

        even if I push the brake pedal as gently as if there was an uncooked egg between my foot and the brake pedal, the ABS is triggered and the car barely slows down at all

        I have been driving on ice and snow since age 14 – my father was letting me drive without a licence – and I knew I was not crazy when I said ABS makes braking distances MUCH longer on ice and snow; it is what owner’s manuals say and it what research says ; on slippery surfaces ABS increases distances

        I have done stunts on ice and snow thousands of times and I say ABS is an atrocious dangerous thing…it increases braking distances so much you may as well just let the car coast.

        I have posted links in other comments that show this is what research and science says ; on slippery surfaces ABS increases braking distances

        people stubbornly refuse to admit it is true despite all the evidence and despite the agencies that test such things saying ABS increases braking distances on slippery surfaces

        those are the facts, not because I say so, because those are the facts

        the sun is not hot because little me says it is hot, the sun is hot because it is a fact that it is hot

        same thing with ABS, it is more than my opinion and more than my personal experience,
        it is a fact, a verified scientific fact, measured by the best people we have and they tell us , they warn us; ABS increases braking distances on slippery surfaces.

        the following is not my opinion or just an opinion, it is what the facts are ;

        …”…on loose gravel or snow-covered surfaces, ABS can significantly increase braking distance, although still improving vehicle steering control.[2][3][4] …”…

        …”… Hard or panic braking on bumpy surfaces, because of the bumps causing the speed of the wheel(s) to become erratic may also trigger the ABS, sometimes causing the system to enter its ice mode, where the system severely limits maximum available braking power….”…

        …”… In gravel, sand and deep snow, ABS tends to increase braking distances. On these surfaces, locked wheels dig in and stop the vehicle more quickly. ABS prevents this from occurring….”…

        sources/references,

        References

        “Toyota Prius c features safety anti-skid braking system (ABS)”. Toyota Motor Corporation Australia. Retrieved 7 March 2016. “Prius c is equipped with Toyota’s Anti-skid Braking System (ABS).”

        “Effectiveness of ABS and Vehicle Stability Control Systems” (PDF). Royal Automobile Club of Victoria. April 2004. Retrieved 2010-12-07.

        Heißing, Bernd (2011), Chassis Handbook, Springer, ISBN 9783834897893, retrieved February 19, 2013

        “Speed With Style”, Cycle World, June 1992, ISSN 0011-4286, retrieved February 19, 2013

        Jon Lawes (31 January 2014). Car Brakes: A Guide to Upgrading, Repair and Maintenance. Crowood. pp. 207–. ISBN 978-1-84797-675-8.

        “Non-Skid Braking”. Flight International. 30 October 1953. pp. 587–588.

        “Browse Flight’s archive of Historic Aviation”. Flightglobal.com. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
        Reynolds, Jim (1990). Best of British Bikes. Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-85260-033-0.

        “Directory Index: Chrysler_and_Imperial/1972 Chrysler/1972_Imperial_Press_Kit”. Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2014-08-26.

        “Chrysler Imperial Sure Brake system description”. ImperialClub.org.

        “Directory Index: Lincoln/1970_Lincoln/1970 Lincoln Continental Brochure”. Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2014-08-26.

        “Directory Index: Lincoln/1971_Lincoln/1971_Lincoln_Continental_Brochure”. Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2014-08-26.

        “Directory Index: Cadillac/1972_Cadillac/1972_Cadillac_Brochure_1”. Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2014-08-26.

        “History”. We Love Cadillacs.

        “1972, First Automotive Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)”. gmheritagecenter.com.

        “Directory Index: Oldsmobile/1971 Oldsmobile/album”. Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2014-08-26.

        “Electro antilock system (installed in Nissan President)”. 240 Landmarks of Japanese Automotive Technology. Society of Automotive Engineers in Japan, Inc.

        “TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION GLOBAL WEBSITE – 75 Years of TOYOTA – Technical Development – Chassis”. toyota-global.com.

        “Sistema antislittamento Sicurezza frenata – Centro Storico FIAT – Archivio Nazionale del Cinema d’Impresa, 1971”.

        “WABCO GLOBAL WEBSITE – 150 Years of WABCO”.
        Anthony Slanda (15 July 2007). “1993 Lincoln safety ad” – via YouTube.

        KI4CY (2003-02-13). “Ram Glossary of abbreviations and terms”. Dodgeram.org. Archived from the original on 22 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-07.

        Nice, Karim. How “Anti-Lock Brakes Work”. howstuffworks. Retrieved October 2, 2010.

        “ABS Frequently Asked Questions”. ABS Education Alliance. 2004-05-03. Archived from the original on 23 May 2010. Retrieved 2009-10-22.

        NHTSA Light Vehicle Antilock Brake System Research Program Task 4: A Test Track Study of Light Vehicle ABS Performance Over a Broad Range of Surfaces and Maneuvers, Jan 1999 PDF
        Gerald J. S. Wilde (1994). “7. Remedy by engineering?”. Psyc.queensu.ca. Archived from the original on 2010-09-21. Retrieved 2010-12-07.

        “Motorcycle ABS: Skepticism Debunked”. Ultimate Motorcycling. 2012-05-16. Retrieved 2012-08-18.

        “Electronic Stability Control (ESC)”. nhtsa.gov.

      • briannystrom says:

        It turns out that pulling the ABS1 fuse under the hood does exactly what I want. The ABS/TCS/ESC system is disabled, but everything else functions normally. I can live with the ABS and ESC warning lights; they’ll serve as a reminder to reinstall the fuse in the spring when I get the car inspected.

  9. Otahu says:

    I’ve been Driving for 40 plus years have over 2 million miles under my belt. In Snow and Freezing rain Conditions or icy roads. I Will take any Engineer from any manufacture and show them in a real world scenario how ABS will cause any Vehicle big or small to end up in the ditch. Add a Trailer or Passengers into the mix and ABS is extremely Dangerous at stop signs or Emergency stops. Look at the amount of 150 car pile up on the new highways in a slight snow conditions these days. We never had that before the mid 90’s when most car’s didn’t have ABS. Ever new car I get. I add a switch to as where I can shut off the ABS in Snow and Ice. It’s saved my life many times!! As I tow a trailer 80% of the time. The extra weight of the trailer is not something Engineers think about when building new cars or trucks.

  10. Paul K says:

    I first contributed to this forum years ago and subscribed to email updates. Recently I noticed that there are some great new contributions that only appear in the older comments section because they “are new replies to old posts”.

    I wanted to briefly summarize what I thought to be two very valuable additions. A poster called “Canadian Friend” points out that owners manuals clearly state a warning that ABS equipped braking distances are longer compared to cars that are not equipped with ABS. These warning suggest that driving slower is the best way to avoid accidents . The text in is obviously inserted by me but I think it’s a fair interpretation given the giant black and yellow exclamation mark and warning symbols that typically accompany the warning text

    “Canadian Friend” was making a counter point to several posters who were convinced that ABS braking systems are safer, and that drivers would be crazy to want to disconnect ABS.

    As is often the case, people who strongly disagree are actually talking about two completely different things without realizing it. Indeed, ABS brakes can be an advantage in certain very specific situations. However, those advantageous situations all occur on perfectly smooth, dry pavement. Those in this forum who regard ABS as very unsafe are consistently describing life threatening ABS performance on Snow, Ice, Gravel, sand covered pavement, pot-holes and wet or wet/oily surfaces.

    To punctuate this point, I noticed another contributor who goes by the name of Burritolikethesun putting forward a ferocious argument that was largely based on a YouTube video from inside the cab of Scott Goodyear while he was racing in what was reported to be the 1988 Rothmans Porsche Turbo Cup Series in Mont Tremblant.

    Burritolikethesun was attempting to argue the safety advantage of ABS. Others countered that race car ABS was race tuned and that there is no snow, ice, potholes, gravel or stop signs or intersections on a race track. Everyone is driving in the same direction and everyone has equivalent braking power.

    Still, I took a look at the YouTube video and accompanying comments and saw something very interesting. One YouTube comment suggested that Scott Goodyear was using a switch low on the dashboard to selectively turn on or off the in order to adjust for wet portion of the track. This commenter pointed to an orange ABS warning light that appeared each time Scott turned off the ABS. I reviewed the video and these observations appeared to be accurate.

    So, what this really means is that a highly skilled professional race car driver like Scott Goodyear took advantage of a race tuned ABS system on the dry portions of the track to assist him with high speed turns driving while driving over 100 miles an hour. But on each and every wet portion of the track, this professional driver felt it was safer and more effective to disconnect the ABS braking system.

    The obvious conclusion is that the most highly skilled drivers in the world seem to agree that ABS braking systems make poor decisions on low traction surfaces.

    And while it may be true that ABS braking systems make hundreds or thousands of decisions per second, the decisions are wrong when traction is reduced. There is a saying… “100 bad decisions don’t make a good one”. Accordingly, stating that 1000 decision per second by an ABS system is always superior to what a human could achieve is false any time the road surface is less than ideal.

    In many ways, ABS brakes are a solution to problems that don’t exist on normal roads. Drivers don’t drive on perfectly manicured tracks, without intersections, without pot holes, snow or ice. Drivers are not given a switch to disable the ABS for low traction surfaces. Drivers don’t need to navigate sharp turns on dry pavement at speeds near or exceeding 100 mph. ABS brakes may make cars safer for all the conditions that don’t exist in the real world. That’s not a useful contribution to road safety when every ABS equipped car has a longer stopping distance on every road surface. It’s outright dangerous and potentially lethal when ABS braking system effectively eliminate virtually all braking power on snow and ice in regions that experience these conditions for months every year.

    PS. Sorry for positing this twice. I accidentally posted in the old comments section and there is no way to delete.

    • Burritolikethesun says:

      Not a race-tuned system. It’s the stock Bosch system with a switch that fools the ABS into thinking there is a damaged component so it will not engage. This was largely a stock homologation series–it surprises me they even allowed switchable ABS. I’ve owned four 944 Turbos, two with ABS. I would always prefer the car with ABS (except that the hub offset change makes for a smaller wheel selection) Also, if you think a race track with undulations (where the wheel repeated loses contact patch (like a pothole) in high-rate dynamic ways at high speed) is not a trying place for any braking system, you are incorrect. It is far from perfect. There is a lot more happening there than meets your eye.

      I like how you try to dismiss my arguments with false logic after you’ve oversimplified them. So while you’re narrative looks great, that one example demonstrates that what glitters isn’t always gold (hurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr haw haw cliches).

      I might sound like a pompous ass. Since this is an internet forum, I don’t really care about he editorial quality of what I’m posting. I had a great time these last few weeks driving with ABS in the snow with an old Saab 9000 Aero. It’s hilarious–you can stomp the pedal, yank the ebrake, induce a spin and use the ABS as a traction control while you’re headed backwards clawing for grip. I probably don’t drive any day without an ABS intervention because driving a car hard is so fun. I seem to like, be able to stop in the snow and sub-zero temperatures with no problem. It’s called *anticipation*. Know you car, know the systems and how they work, and you won’t have to live your life in some indignant, worried, luddite haze.

  11. Merrill Gehman says:

    You are absolutely right. I’m glad to share the road with knowledgeable drivers like you. I’ve got in trouble many times thanks to abs brakes . Thankfully each time due to luck I was not involved in an accident, but one of them had the potential for being fatal. The worse case is when there’s a few inches of crusty snow. Without abs one can brake and dig down into the snow cause it a dam of snow in front of the wheels on all the heels on all the axle and stop much quicker than with abs. Another is on steep icy or slick off-roading sometimes you can’t stop at all with abs. Thanks to all the inexperienced drivers in high places for putting our driving in danger. This unfortunately will become much worse with the so called self driving vehicles . It takes longer to verbalize a mile than to dr it. Good luck on duplicating 5 and a half million miles.

  12. Tim Allen says:

    Yesterday, I almost totaled my car because ABS ‘helped’ me brake in a snow/slick situation. Directly after applying the brakes hard, the car entered the opposite lane with oncoming traffic – my little Kia Soul would have been destroyed by the oncoming F150 in the other lane on a head on impact. Who knows how I would have made out in this instance. I was just able to aim the Soul back to the right, which almost caused a complete spin, but I was then able to aim it back the other way just enough to aim it into a snow bank. I say ‘aim’ because that’s all you are able to do when ABS kicks in. You can’t modulate the brakes yourself to fit the circumstances. I’m an experienced New England driver, and I have never felt so helpless in a situation like this. I have never liked ABS, or automatic transmissions, because by having both you give up your instinctive ability to respond to bad situations. I proved that to myself yesterday.

    • badmonkey63 says:

      Here is how I handle ABS brakes; Each time I need to get and inspection in order to buy new tags for my car and truck, I ” PLUG THE G-DAMN THINGS BACK UP TO TURN OFF THE ABS DASH LIGHTS, GET MY INSPECTION, DRIVE BACK HOME AND UNPLUG THE FUSE ONCE AGAIN, AND BRAKE DOWN MY CAR AS THE PHYSICAL LAWS OF NATURE HAVE TAUGHT ME TO DO IN 52 YEARS OF DRIVING!”
      I will say, that if you can not apply the needed, and only needed pressure to control your car in a braking situation, then you should not be on the road with the coordinated people who can!

      • Tim Allen says:

        As we speak, I’m researching how to disable mine. This is one area where I agree the Government needs to reverse their ‘guidance’. It almost killed me yesterday.

  13. Ted Cameron says:

    Very interesting experiences and well worth reading this blog. I see very few reports that support ABS and no mention of ABS preventing an accident. Although I do not have any harrowing experiences to relate some of you might be interested in a controlled ABS experiment that I was involved in. My company had a fleet of Ford Taurus’s in the ‘90’s and ABS was new to the drivers. The fleet manager hired professional drivers to familiarize us in their effective use. A very large empty paved parking lot was used. Tires inflated to 36 psi. Being fleet all tires were like new. Tests were done with ABS enabled, then disabled. (Plug removed??) Stopping distances were compared at 50 and 80 kph. Very little differences were noted. We learned to brake to just below the threshold of ABS cutting in. However when the braking area was flooded using fire hoses the ABS system exhibited its advantage. This was the scenario. Wet pavement. 80 kph. Dummy tossed into our path. Panic reflex. Four wheel lock. Going to hit the dummy. Frantically steer left. Without ABS we all hit the dummy. The car would not steer. Locked wheels, though turned, merely skid forward. With ABS however, you can effectively steer because your wheels are still turning. Many of us were not successful, but the instructors could avoid the dummy every time and we did improve as the day progressed.
    I know, I know…how often would this happen? Just thought you would be interested.

    • Paul K says:

      Hi Ted:

      Enjoyed your story. My take away is that the team that came to demonstrate ABS stayed away from any tests that compared ABS to non-ABS braking distances on loose or slipery surfaces. Throwing a dummy in front of a fast moving car on a wet road seems is about as contrived an experiment as one could come up with. With no chance to stop with or without ABS the experment was designed to ignore braking distances and focus entirely on steering. According to you, the dummy was struck most of the time with or without ABS except in the case of the driving instructors. Presumably they had practiced over and over again to avoid the flying dummy. Burritolikethesun should feel much safer now just incase someone thows him infront of one of those instructors cars when it happens to be raining.

    • Burritolikethesun says:

      https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811182

      ABS improves safety in most conditions.

      I rest my case. 🙂

      • Paul K says:

        You rest your case on the report that contains these statistics:

        FATAL CRASH INVOLVEMENTS: Wet Snowy or Icy Roads (Cars)
        ***************************************************************************
        All run-off-road crashes: 34% increase in accident rate with ABS
        Side impacts with fixed objects: 85% increase in accident rate with ABS
        First-event rollovers: 52% increase in accident rate with ABS
        All other run-off-road crashes: 17% increase in accident rate with ABS

        Try reading a document before you rest your case on it.

  14. Don says:

    Seems to be a lot of people here down on ABS. You all seem to claim to be good to excellent drivers. I’m unclear why you drivers, specifically, are so negative? If you are the good driver you claim, and you apparently have the ability to drive and stop your car in a manner that does not lock or skid our wheels, the ABS function on your vehicle will NOT activate. Period. It will only activate in the event of a wheel lock-up. in that case, you have nothing to complain or worry about, your ABS will never “kill” you. If however, even being the perfect driver, you find yourself in the situation that requires you to stand harder on the brakes….and you decide to modulate or regulate your braking, you are doing the same thing that ABS does for you, regulating and modulating. Of course, you being human, will not be able to do it as quickly, reliably and accurately as the computer will. I personally feel I am an excellent driver, I feel I can modulate my braking better than most. With that said, I drive a vehicle with ABS, Traction control, lane departure monitoring (and correction), blind spot monitoring, and probably some other stuff too. I’m glad its there to protect me and other people on the road when my skill is not enough….just my opinion.
    Certified Master ASE tech 28 years, Automotive Instructor, Daily Driver

    • Canadian Friend says:

      Don said ; …”… If you are the good driver you claim, and you apparently have the ability to drive and stop your car in a manner that does not lock or skid our wheels, the ABS function on your vehicle will NOT activate. Period…”…

      one problem here in this whole thread is that half the people are talking about stopping on dry asphalt, the other half is talking about stopping on very slippery surfaces such as snow or ice covered roads

      Don is talking about ideal conditons thus dry asphalt

      that is not where we say ABS will kill us

      ABS behaves VERY diferently on dry asphalt ; it almost never kicks in
      while on ice or snow it kicks in WAY too easily, which makes it impossible to regulate or modulate or whatever you want to call it

      the other thing is that those who say ABS will do a better job than a human can are – again – talking about perfect conditons of dry asphalt

      on ice or snow it is a well documented fact that ABS makes stopping distances LONGER

      how can people who say they are experts or engineers not know that this is even mentioned as a warning in the user manual that comes with new cars

      ABS on slippery surfaces makes stopping distances LONGER, this is not our opinion, it is what it is

      the only benefit of ABS on very slippery roads is that you can keep control of where the car is going, the car will not skid or spin and do a 180 or a 360

      but ABS will make stopping distances LONGER on slippery roads this is a scientific fact that has been known for decades

      I can not believe how under informed people are.

      • briannystrom says:

        I take issue with one statement you made here:

        “the only benefit of ABS on very slippery roads is that you can keep control of where the car is going, the car will not skid or spin and do a 180 or a 360”

        If you turn the wheel on a very low traction surface, ABS will not stop your vehicle from spinning, for the same reason it won’t stop you from sliding off the road if you corner too fast for the conditions. In conditions where there is insufficient traction to steer without ABS, there’s not enough traction to steer with ABS, either.

      • You are right,

        I should have been more clear, ABS helps reduce the chances of the car skidding and doing a 180 or 360 but it can not keep it from happening.

        and you are right about cornering too fast…ABS can not keep the laws of physics from doing their thing.

        any car – even a formula one car with tires sticky as glue – if it takes a curve too fast will simply keep going straight…

        physics can not be changed, when too much force is applied to a certain mass, and only a limited amount of friction is available, something has got to give; the car skids off the curve.

        Also as you know ABS can only help as long as the car is going in the same direction the wheels are rotating ; forward or reverse

        if the car is skidding from left to right or right to left, ABS can not do a thing, which is why as was mentioned in car magazines back in the 1990s, when ABS became availaible car insurance companies reported and increase in accidents in which cars were skidding out of curves

        the explanation is that most people do not understand ABS and understand physics even less

        they think that because ABS keeps the wheels from locking when braking hard in a straight line, they think because the wheels did not lock, did not lose traction and did not skid or glide or whatever the correct word is
        they think ABS will also keep the wheels from losing traction in a curve

        but ABS only works on one axis, it only works on forces on the X axis and can not do anything for forces on the Y axis

    • Canadian Friend says:

      here is wikipedia saying what I have known to be true for about 30 years

      …”,…ABS generally offers improved vehicle control and decreases stopping distances on dry and slippery surfaces; however, on loose gravel or snow-covered surfaces, ABS can significantly increase braking distance, although still improving vehicle steering control.[2][3][4]…”…

      ABS SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASES STOPPING DISTANCES on SNOW or GRAVEL

      How can so few people know about this?

      How can so many so called experts NOT know about this?

      why do you think it is just our “dumb” and “bad” driver opinion when this a well document fact that can be found in your car owner’s manual or on the internet in two minutes?

      ABS’ main function is improving vehicle steering control NOT reducing breaking distances

      I can not believe that millions of people – including engineers – are that ignorant about something that has been know to be a fact for about 30 years.

      ABS INCREASES stopping distances on slippery surfaces…it says so in your owner’s manual.

      and this is why we say it will get us killed when on SLIPPERY SURFACE

      and we are right

      if a large truck runs a red light at high speed and the damn ABS makes me stop ten feet further than without ABS on a SLIPPERY snow covered road when I was about to cross that intersection, then ABS will get me killed.

      ABS INCREASES BRAKING DISTANCES on snow and gravel and may get us killed.

      end of story.

    • Canadian Friend says:

      more from wikipedia confirming that us “dumb and bad drivers” are right about ABS being something that may get us killed,

      …”…A 2004 Australian study by Monash University Accident Research Centre found that ABS:[2]

      Increased the risk of run-off-road crashes by 35 percent.

      In gravel, sand and deep snow, ABS tends to increase braking distances. On these surfaces, locked wheels dig in and stop the vehicle more quickly. ABS prevents this from occurring.

      A June 1999 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found that ABS increased stopping distances on loose gravel by an average of 27.2 percent.[25] …”…

      I rest my case.

      And I am a freakin right about ABS being a dangerous thing that may get me killed on slippery roads

      • badmonkey63 says:

        While working in the automotive repair industry, there was a sheer drop off at the edge of the shop. A six foot wall drop off that only had a parking bump to stop cars against. When finished with any repairs I did on a vehicle, we would drive the cars back around to the front office and quickly stop at that ‘BUMP’. Then anti-lock brakes came out, I had never drove a car up to that day; I swung around the corner of the shop with the car and hit the brakes. The damn car almost went over the wall, as it did not brake down as quickly as what I was used to with original braking systems.
        Plus, when anti-lock brakes get age on them, they tend to burn up the brake pads. They don’t always fully release fluid pressure, causing the pads to rub on the rotors. Bad for pads, bad for rotors, good for car part sales!

    • Burritolikethesun says:

      Don’t worry, Don. I guess we just need to let the indignant/prepper/moron contingent kill themselves (and their families) when they yaw out of control into a tree sideways the next time they try to get their worn-out-bushings, out-of-alignment janglebus Ford Explorer to panic stop on wet pavement. If you have to have the accident, it sure would’ve been better to hit the object head on like the vehicle was optimally designed for–but nope–you slid it sideways into a tree with all four locked up *AMUUUUUURRRRIIIICAAAAAAA* and now your kid is dead. Wah-wah.

      • Paul K says:

        Burritolikethesun:

        You wrote:

        “https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811182
        ABS improves safety in most conditions.
        I rest my case.”

        Try reading the report:

        1) The only way the NHTSA was able to arrive at a net positive accident rate for ABS vehicles was to exclude the three most popular vehicles.

        “Three sporty models with high sales – Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, and Ford Mustang –are omitted from the study. Their drivers have high rates of run-off-road crashes. That mightconfound the analyses of the possible effect of ABS on those crashes. ”

        Basically, they cherry picked the data to arrive at a positive conclusion because the conclusions would have been negative had they included all vehicle models.

        2) They averaged dry road conditions and wet/icy conditions together to arrive at a positive conclusion of a 1% reduction in accident rate favoring the selected models of ABS equipped vehicles. If you isolate the wet/icy statistics these tell a very different story:

        FATAL CRASH INVOLVEMENTS: Wet Snowy or Icy Roads (Cars)
        All run-off-road crashes: 34 increase in accident rate with ABS
        Side impacts with fixed objects: 85 increase in accident rate with ABS
        First-event rollovers: 52 increase in accident rate with ABS
        All other run-off-road crashes: 17 increase in accident rate with ABS

        When they averaged all road conditions together, they ended up with a 1% reduction in car fatalities with ABS (but only by excluding the three most popular models).

        Light trucks had a 1% increase in fatalities across all road conditions. On Wet/Icy road conditions, the fatality rates on ABS equipped light trucks were increases across all categories of accidents. The increased fatal accident rates for light truck with ABS were between 3% higher and 31% higher depending on category.

        When you actually read the NHTSA report, it supports what the vast majority of posters in this forum are saying. ABS brakes dramatically increase the risk of a fatal collision when the road conditions offer limited traction.

      • Burritolikethesun says:

        LOL. I’m cherry picking data? So you want claim their omission of data from three (really two) models of shitty (report is not current era) rear-wheel-drive cars that almost certainly are purchased and driven by high-risk drivers with mullets? Did you see the incidence of yaw experiment? Do you know how study methodology is decided? Did you see how much more effective ABS is at stopping a vehicle on almost any surface that does not create the plowing effect?

        I was out yanking the e-brake in the snow this morning to pitch this 2016 Yaris sideways that I’m renting for a conference. It’s nothing short of remarkable how much it takes to overcome the ESC and ABS intervention and get the car bent. Sure, if I want to go have some fun it would be great to disable that shit. If I want to build a car that gives people the best chance in any conditions I’ll continue to advocate installing those systems on every consumer vehicle.

        I sure hope you’re not working at a lab wasting an NIH grant with your hilarious inability to discern what’s important and why certain data is really being controlled for (hint: it’s not aliens). The study I linked is far from perfect or comprehensive, but it clearly demonstrates from a technical, primary-test perspective that ABS stops a car shorter in most conditions and minimizes or totally eliminates yaw caused by hard braking in all conditions.

  15. Paul K says:

    Opps, left out some perentage symbols:

    FATAL CRASH INVOLVEMENTS: Wet Snowy or Icy Roads (Cars)
    All run-off-road crashes: 34% increase in accident rate with ABS
    Side impacts with fixed objects: 85% increase in accident rate with ABS
    First-event rollovers: 52% increase in accident rate with ABS
    All other run-off-road crashes: 17% increase in accident rate with ABS

  16. Burritolikethesun says:

    Also, here is theory of mine (oh yes):

    Ever notice how well newer (even the cheapest economy) cars handle compared to older ones? Especially turn in and sustained front-end grip? Well, part of what makes that possible to sell to the general public is the inclusion of the electronic aids (ESC/ABS, and you can’t have stability control without ABS). Turn off the ESC, hit an offramp, throw a bit of quick lock on the wheel and lift off the throttle. Look at how easy she comes around there, Bob! Older cars were mostly plow city unless you engaged in borderline theatrical action at the controls. The safety net allows the manufacturer to set up the suspension for less stability but improved “handling” without catching ruinous press and legal action.

    I don’t have actual data to back that theory up, but seeing as lots of the experiences here are anecdotal, it would seem permissible.

    • Paul K says:

      Burritolikethesun :
      I’m loosing track of the number of demonstrably false statements you have presented as fact. Here is a quick recap:

      1) Burritolikethesun wrote “https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811182
      ABS improves safety in most conditions.

      Not true. Blending all fatal accidents together across all road conditions (but excluding the three most popular models with the highest ABS accident rates) ABS had a 1% advantage for cars and a 1% disadvantage for light trucks. 1% is not generally considered statistically significant. This does not translate into “ABS is safer in most road conditions”. It actually translated into ABS fatality rates were lower for CARS under only one road condition “Dry Pavement” but are significantly higher for two other road conditions (Wet and icy). For LIGHT TRUCKS, ABS fatality rates were higher across dry, wet and icy pavement.

      NHTIS found some ABS advantage by lumping fatal and non-fatal accidents together but that’s just bad statistics. Credible conclusions about safety need to be drawn from the fatal data and should exclude accidents that includes an unknown number of door dings and bumper scratches.

      2) Burritolikethesun wrote
      “The study I linked is far from perfect or comprehensive, but it clearly demonstrates from a technical, primary-test perspective that ABS stops a car shorter in most conditions”

      Again, not true. In fact, the authors of the report wrote the following:
      “ABS can significantly lengthen stopping distances on loose surfaces such as gravel or soft snow. Drivers should slow down and allow extra distance between vehicles under those conditions. Many drivers think the main purpose of ABS is to reduce stopping distances. This is a serious misconception. ABS will only reduce stopping distances significantly in some special road conditions, but may increase distances in others.”

      The braking distance tests in the NHTSA study compared “4 Wheel lock-up” to “ABS braking”. It’s a pretty mindless comparison. A fair test of “proper emergency braking without ABS” to “ABS braking” would have found that ABS increases stopping distances on all road conditions.

      The same conclusion is printed in every car owner’s manual “ABS stopping distances are longer compared to cars without ABS”.

      The NHTSA study did find that Gravel stopping distances were 28% longer with ABS compared to 4 wheel lock-up. The authors of the report guessed that snow would generate similar results. It was a poor quality guess.

      The authors of the study lacked some fundamental knowledge of braking principals. They concluded that a 4 wheel lock-up stops faster on gravel due to “a plowing effect” causing material to build up in front of the tires. This is false. The braking advantage is actually the result of the tires digging through the loose top surface to access the higher traction surface below. ABS brakes never access that surface because the wheels are constantly spinning. Snow and ice can increase ABS stopping distances by much more than 28%. There is a great deal of traction available just below the snow or ice on a road. ABS rolls on top the snow and ice. With ABS disabled, the driver has access to the high traction surface below.

      The spectacularly long stopping distances on snow and ice are what most contributors to this forum are pointing to. They do so based on thier experiences. However, all the available information sources and studies support thier conclusions that ABS stopping distances are significantly increased on all surfces including snow and ice.

      Of course, I’m wasting my time sharing this information with Burritolikethesun. The majority of his posts include in one form or another the statement that anyone who does not agree with him must be an idiot. He brags about reckless driving stunts and even post about being drunk and stoned. Burritolikethesun ignores all facts in favor of what he feel is true.

      Even still, I think all contributions are valuable in one form or another. I have appreciated the opporuntity to revisit the 2009 NHTSA study to discuss its faulty methods and contradictory conclusions.

  17. briannystrom says:

    “I don’t have actual data to back that theory up, but seeing as lots of the experiences here are anecdotal, it would seem permissible.”

    That’s because it’s complete BS. Auto manufacturers set up their vehicles to understeer, period (perhaps with some exceptions for sports cars that shouldn’t be driven in slippery conditions anyway). They do it through suspension tuning and stupid tire pressure recommendations such as equal pressure front and rear on nose-heavy FWD and AWD vehicles. The average driver is safer in an understeering car, because their natural inclination is to back off the throttle if the rear end starts to slide, which is exactly the wrong thing to do in anything other than a RWD vehicle (that’s the only part of your example that’s correct).

    If you understand how to drive your vehicle, it’s simply not an issue. I tweak my tire pressure to minimize understeer and produce more balanced handling, and more driving enjoyment (not to mention better tire wear). I know how to handle rear-end skids in a FWD vehicle because I’ve practiced them both on dry pavement and in slippery winter conditions. I don’t need ECS to do that for me any more than I need ABS to brake for me after 43 winters of driving in NH. As soon as I can figure out how to disable the ABS system in my current vehicle (the 1st I’ve had with ABS/TCS/ECS) without unacceptable side effects, it’s history.

  18. briannystrom says:

    Thanks Paul, I’ll do that.

    • briannystrom says:

      It turns out that pulling the ABS1 fuse under the hood does exactly what I want. The ABS/TCS/ESC system is disabled, but everything else functions normally. I can live with the ABS and ESC warning lights; they’ll serve as a reminder to reinstall the fuse in the spring when I get the car inspected.

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