Auto Service World
Feature   August 1, 2000   by Auto Service World

COVER STORY: The ABS Revolution

Light trucks used to have two ABS options: Rear Wheel Anti-Lock and no ABS at all. That’s all changed.

“All your newer trucks are coming with either standard RWAL or optional EBC 310 or 410, the Kelsey Hayes three phase or four phase ABS,” says Russ Walker, technical services manager, Dana Brake and Chassis, whose nickname is “Dr. Stop.”

This has been going on since 1996, says Walker, but the trend toward these specific systems should be an easy one to handle. “They’re fully non-integral, so they’re less expensive to fix. It’s a pretty basic system, because all they really did was take the RWAL system and to make it a more powerful system by adding two more valves. Full functionality is the same as an RWAL system.”

The issue, says Walker, is not so much the technical complexity of the systems as the fact that too few technicians have the proper diagnostic tools and that brake systems on some of the heavier light trucks are not up to the pounding they get.

“It is literally a fool-proof system. The only chance of getting something fouled up is if he fouls it up himself, if he allows the system to run dry and gets air into the accumulator.”

He says that it’s just good practice to pinch off the brake hoses when opening a bleeder. That’s just a habit Walker suggests technicians should get into. Another habit is checking the proper functioning of the ABS system. So few people ever activate the ABS that they may not even be aware of a problem. Consumers cannot be relied on to tell the technician that a light was on, but has since gone out, particularly if it happened some time ago. Walker says that dash lights should be viewed as merely a convenience, not a replacement for inspection.

“When they do a brake job, a lot of technicians make the mistake of not taking it into an ABS stop to make sure that it is functioning properly. We expect a professional technician should be looking at it as a total system. Just because you can’t see that something is broken doesn’t mean it’s not.”

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