Your car’s anti-lock braking system (ABS) helps to keep you safe while you’re on the road. This safety feature works in tandem with your brakes to lessen the amount of stress they have to endure, regardless of the weather conditions that may impact the road. 

Automotive manufacturers began integrating their vehicles with ABS braking to protect drivers from unanticipated wheel lock-ups. This system connects your tyres to the computer inside your dashboard, allowing your car to continually monitor and respond to changes in wheel rotation.

Anti-lock Brake System light on car dashboard

For example, if your tyres lose their grip while driving on a wet surface, your ABS can step in with an automated brake-pumping process. This pumping will bring your car to a stop even if more than the wheel locks up.

What is the link between ABS braking and tyres?

As mentioned, an anti-lock braking system can track the rotation of your tyres and determine, courtesy of the computer in your car, when your tyres lock up. It’s much easier, this way, for your ABS to respond to roadway emergencies. The system will help you bring your car to a stop without skidding or putting other vehicles at risk.

How badly can you damage your tyres when braking without ABS?

If you’re in a vehicle without ABS, you risk damaging your tyres by trying to brake while skidding or aquaplaning. Hard braking at speeds as low as 50 to 55 miles per hour can start to cause tyre wear to the point where your tyre walls may be significantly weakened.

That said, if you don’t have ABS in your car, you can invest in tyres with more significant tyre grip. This way you will be provided with the traction you need to more safely navigate wet or otherwise dangerous roads.

ABS braking system

Will pulse braking help to protect your tyres?

If you don’t have an ABS, you can try to pulse your brakes if you begin to skid or aquaplane on the road. To pulse brake, you need to apply and remove pressure from your brakes in rapid succession. 

When you do so, you can keep your brakes active enough to keep them from freezing up. However, you will still be at risk for extended skidding – while pulse braking can substitute for a lack of an ABS, but it won’t substitute for the protective technology. 

As for your car tyres: pulse braking won’t do as much tyre damage as normal hard braking will in a skidding situation, but the process is not kind to your tyres, either. You will want to examine your tyres on your own time or take them to a professional to make sure that you haven’t done severe or irreversible damage to the tyre tread.

That said, if you are in a situation where you are skidding or aquaplaning, you need to do what you can to keep yourself safe on the road. It’s far easier to replace a set of tyres than it is to foot hospital bills in addition to vehicular repairs.

Side view of black car

Does ABS work better on wet or dry surfaces?

Your ABS is designed to keep you safe on wet roads or while driving in the rain. You are more likely, after all, to skid or aquaplane when there’s something between your tyres and the road. Rainwater, specifically, can reduce the friction that would otherwise secure you on the road.

Your ABS will also keep you safe when the weather’s fair. If there’s been a petrol spill on the road, for example, or if there’s standing water from a recent rainstorm in your way, your ABS can auto-pump your brakes and prevent you from getting into an accident. 

That said, don’t expect your ABS to protect you if you drive straight into a deep, standing puddle – while the system responds well to ice and shallower puddles, you won’t do your car any good at all if you accidentally submerge your engine.

Auto mechanic’s hands replacing car tyre

Should you replace all of your tyres if only one is damaged?

Your tyres won’t always wear out at an even rate. If you frequently find yourself driving in the rain or on damp roads, the difference between your tyres’ wear rates could be even more extreme.

Unfortunately, if one of your tyres starts to go, you will want to consider replacing your entire set. A difference in tread depth across all four of your tyres can cause your car to run unevenly. If you continue to drive on tyres with uneven tread, you may find your petrol costs rising and your mileage increasing, even if you’re not driving any further than you used to. 

You will also put yourself at greater risk by driving on tyres without even tread, as these tyres won’t be able to provide you with equivalent protection if you do start to skid or hydroplane.

Are you apprehensive about driving in the rain? If your car comes equipped with an anti-lock braking system, you can rely on its auto-pump technology to keep you safe from skidding or aquaplaning.