Because the brake system is such a vital feature of every vehicle, the technology for creating safer and more responsive systems is constantly developing. Newer electronic braking systems now exist that provide additional advantages, often coupled with ABS. The following sections cover two that are in production now.
Brake Assist (BA)
Brake Assist (BA) is like having a superhero in the car to save you in an emergency. It keeps an electronic eye on how you’re braking, and if you suddenly get into an emergency and have to stop short, BA automatically boosts the power of the brakes to help you.
When you’re out of trouble and take your foot off the brake, the system automatically does so too and resumes its surveillance. Originally offered as an option on high-end vehicles, often as part of a “pre-collision” package, BA is becoming available on more vehicles as the cost of the system goes down. You often find it combined with EBD, which I cover next.
Electronic brakeforce distribution
First popular on luxury vehicles and some SUVs, electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) ensures that braking power is distributed proportionately among all the wheels. If a vehicle carries a heavy or unequally distributed load, ordinary brake function can be skewed to one area of the vehicle, causing it to pull to one side or even sending it into a skid.
To ensure stability, EBD automatically distributes the force of the brakes proportionately to all the wheels so that the vehicle can stop safely. Regenerative braking systems that literally generate power to drive hybrid vehicles are discussed in. If you haven’t read that chapter on alternatively powered vehicles yet, you’re gonna love it.
As I explain in Chapter 14, all vehicles today are equipped with dual hydraulic brake systems. Many newer vehicles are also equipped with antilock braking systems (ABS). This chapter provides instructions for performing preventive maintenance on your brakes and doing checkups that help you to spot trouble before it occurs.
If you need professional work done, this chapter also provides tips that enable you to deal with an auto mechanic or brake specialist knowledgeably.
If you haven’t read or if you’ve forgotten what you read, please go back and review it before continuing with this chapter. Before you can troubleshoot or work on your brakes, you must be familiar with how the system on your vehicle works, what its principal parts do, and what should be happening when you step on the brake pedal.
Although you can probably do most of the work in this chapter yourself, if you want to do major break work, you should do it under supervision. If you don’t get things back together properly, you risk losing much more than you gain! However, if after reading this chapter you simply can’t stand the idea of exposing your brakes to a total stranger, get yourself to a good community auto class at a local high school or dealership and do the work under an instructor’s watchful eye. In such a setting, you have access to the hydraulic hoists, brake lathes, and other expensive equipment needed to do a really good job.
So even if you’re sure that you need no further instruction after reading my enlightened and crystal-clear prose, having the equipment and the instructor’s expertise available is still worth the price of enrollment. Whenever you encounter a term set in this font, you’ll find it defined in the glossary in Appendix.