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Buying a used car that does not have ABS

We are considering buying our 20 year old son a 2002 Mazda Protege 5. the car is very nice in excellent condition. The only drawback is it does not have ABS. I am surprised to see ABS optional on cars. But then there is some debate whether they actually improve outcomes. Just wondering what they opinion is here.

I would not allow the absence of ABS to be a deal breaker if the car is otherwise acceptable. I drove for 36 years before I had a car with ABS, and I would not hesitate to buy a car without it today. Nor would I worry about my children driving such a car.

How much winter driving in snow and ice will your son encounter? ABS main advantage is in the winter but you can learn how to use non ABS brakes in winter just fine.

Personally I’d prefer a car have ABS brakes, but I can live safely without them. With older cars ABS systems can be a “trouble” spot. When an ABS system fails it can expensive to fix, so in that regard this maybe better. One less thing to go wrong.

I also have driven both in all climates and have had no problems with non abs. I wonder how it affect being able to sell a car. I appreciate your comments. My son also feels it should not be a deal breaker. I also told him that he may need to develop better defensive driving habits with non abs. The climaye is North Carolina which had more snow than ever this year. Everyone wwith Subarus were very happy. But this is somewhat rare to have so much snow and have it last so long.

A set of winter tires will do more for this car in the snow than ABS or any other electronic aid.

I have a fwd with the same weight ratio as the Mazda and no abs works great See front wheel drive stability test on you tube and I did a video with it

The car I’ve owned for the last 5 years is the first I’ve had with ABS. After becoming familiar with the inherant weaknesses of ABS I’d consider a vehicles not having it as an asset. On poor traction roads and washboard roads ABS can lengthen stopping distances to the point of making stopping almost impossible.

I have a hill by my house in the middle of which I have to make a left hand turn. It’s a very short, low speed road. When the road is alippery in the winter I’ve always been able to slow enough to make it in my '91 Camry, my '89 Toyota pickup, and either of my daughter’s older Civics. The only car that I absolutely cannot take the turn in is my tC with ABS. The ABS keeps engaging and the car keeps rolling.

ABS is designed to allow you to maintain control during emergency braking. The tradeoff is lengthened stopping distances. In some cases, like on my icy hill, severely lengthened to the point of making the brakes useless. I wish I could turn mine off.

I guess I’m going to be the dissenting voice here. Yes, we got by without ABS for years and some (myself included usually) get by without it, but you can say the same thing about stuff like seatbelts that you wouldn’t consider buying a car without these days.

A lot of people seem to think they can brake better than ABS, but countless tests have shown that ABS can outperform ANY driver both in terms of control and braking distance. An ABS car is going to outperform a non-ABS car with an inexperienced driver by a HUGE margin.

So in my opinion, unless this car is a stupendous deal and the alternative is buying something much older, find a different car. Considering that practically every car in that age range is going to have ABS it should be no problem getting a comparable deal on a car with ABS.

ABS is an excellent safety device and I would not own a car without it. More important though, are good tires that are appropriate for the task and safe driving technique. If you have that taken care of, you’re much safer I feel than someone with ABS,poor tires and poor driving skills and habits. The basics first…if all that’s in place, abs is still worthwhile. I fully agree with Gressy’s remarks.
utube demos of abs in action.



I would challenge you to pull the ABS fuse on the tC and see if it handles the terrain any better-- I doubt it will. I have a really hard time picturing how ABS could possibly be a liability in the situations you describe-- considering that it doesn’t even kick in until the wheels are slipping, how is an ABS engagement worse than going into a skid? Do you usually powerslide around the corner or something?

We have owned at least 4 cars with ABS and many more without. We can take it or leave it; last year we bought a car without ABS. We live in the northern US.

You’ll need to have the experience to understand. Others have had the same experiences and the ABS has lost its luster.

No, it’s impossible to powerslide at barely-moving speeds. Attempts to convince me that it’s my techniques rather than the ABS are futile. I’ve over 40 years of experience driving all sorts of vehicles in the same terrain.

I choose not to pull the fuse. I don’t like warning lights. I simply go around the corner and up the other street in bad weather.

The ABS shouldn’t activate at barely moving speeds, though.

I guess my hypothesis isn’t that it’s your techniques, but rather that it’s just that car that’s the problem and it’d be crummy in the snow either way. I don’t know how much this translates, but I drove an xB for a long time and it was also pretty crummy in the snow, especially with the stock tires.

At any rate, it’s an incredibly thin set of circumstances where not having ABS is preferable to having it, and given the incredible edge it gives in on-road slippery conditions (and in my experience anyways, off-road), I think it’s worth trying to find a car that has it. I’m as much of an automotive luddite as anyone (I have a pickup without power brakes and an old car with 4-wheel drums in my fleet), but ABS is the one electronic gizmo I think is really indisputably a good thing.

Also the ABS light won’t come on with the fuse pulled, not that I really recommend driving around without it.

“I wonder how it affect being able to sell a car.”

I wouldn’t worry about that on an 8 year old car. It’s condition at sale will be far more important than ABS. I also wouldn’t worry too much about next year’s snow. This year was higher than ever before for most of the Mid-Atlantic area. Next year will almost certainly be less due to the jet stream returning to a more mormal location.

The car pictured in this article has no abs and snows on the rear only and it out stopped some abs cars http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/car-tips/safety/how-i-learned-to-tame-the-ice/article1471508/ from the rusty dodge owner

If all you’re concerned with is stopping distance, for the sake of argument I agree, there “may” be times when you stop shorter without. The key is, you retain an element of steerage with abs, combine with a minimal stopping distance than non abs cars would require skills that few drivers can ever approach. Just trying to stop in time on slippery or dry roads in an emergency with a child darting out in front of you requires TWO options; stopping and steering away. ABS gives vehicles that combination better than non…IMO. Without good tires though, in either case, you could be SOL.

I can relate to those who say they can take it or leave it, as I’m sure you’re someone who is careful and perhaps always drives with appropriate tires. I just want the edge always.

It’s interesting to read the latest study re abs and the mystery surrounding increased fatalities. I can see it though. You are driving down the road a deer jumps out in front. You slam on the brakes and swerve to miss the deer. Without abs you can’t steer and hit the deer and have some damage. With abs you swerve and end up in the ditch… roll over or in a tree, dead.

ABS can be a liability in certain instances-Kevin(if it wont steer let off the brakes)

This is where the stability control (available of some cars) comes into the picture. It makes it less likely to lose control when making a sudden maneuver. Statics seem to show that cars with this feature are noticeably safer.

I have an '04 Camry and have the same complaints as TSM. It’s hyper sensitive to the same conditions he described. I almost rear ended someone when the car encountered a ripple in the pavement and some light sand on the surface. I drive this route everyday and it always has trouble on this section.

Greasy Jack, the difference is that if even ONE wheel slips, the ABS kicks in and affects ALL of the wheels. In traditional systems, the remaining wheels would brake normally and you’d come to a normal stop. It’s unnerving to have the car keep rolling forward with very little braking because one wheel is stuttering over a ripple in the pavement. As one example…