How much are anti-lock brakes "worth"?

I bought a used 2006 Toyota Corolla a few months ago. I asked the seller (a friend of the family) a few times before buying it whether it had anti-lock brakes, and he assured me that it did. We got the car, drove it to a different state where we live, registered it and paid our taxes, and then found out it does not, in fact, have anti-lock brakes (my insurance ran the VIN number, and the little ABS light does not come on when we turn it on). I’ve always thought that anti-lock brakes are an important safety feature, and I probably wouldn’t have bought the car if I knew it didn’t have them. I’m considering asking him to refund part of the price of the car, but I can’t figure out how to estimate the “value” of the ABS in order to put a figure on it. Any thoughts??

Last year I started a thread asking if people wanted ABS or better tires when they bought a new cars. The answers were pretty much centered on personal preference rather than technical reasons (one more thing to go wrong,high repair costs,bleeding complications). Use the search feature and you will get a basis to put a perspective on the new responses you will get.

A family friend was able to pull off such a deception? This tells me that maybe you would be better with a automatic system thus the value of ABS to you is more than it is to me which is zero.

Well, the difference in Kelly Blue Book retail on a 2006 LE with vs. without ABS is $65. Of course, that may not be the value to you…

You have my sympathy…not for the loss of a feature, but a friend. Another reason not to deal with a relative /friend. I feel ABS is one of those safety features, like an air bag, you may never realize it’s true value until it’s suddenly needed. There is that one second in need when you’ll think it’s worth any price. Many of us have a lifetime of driving w/o them and never missed them.
I would go to a dealer and ask for an “estimate” on the difference and charge your friend. If it indeed was an honest mistake, you’ll have a family friend back. Otherwise, another person who sold personal relationship for money you can do without.

If you think it’s that important, and can sell of trade the car…it’s still valuable to people like me who can “live” without it.

Did you have the car inspected prior to buying it as recommended by many posters on this forum? You should have confirmed this prior to purchase not after the fact.


It is also possible that the original owner of that Corolla actually thought that his/her car was equipped with ABS, as a result of either technical ignorance or just plain…lack of automotive knowledge.

Think about it–don’t we frequently run into people on this site who are apparently unaware of some technical details regarding their own car? You know, like the people who ask a question about their transmission, but are unable to tell us if it is a 3 speed or 4 speed tranny, or the people who don’t know what a particular switch on their dashboard does, or the people who don’t know the model year of their car, or the people who don’t even know what their warranty coverage is.

I can recall an acquaintance from high school who was showing me his father’s new Datsun sedan, circa 1967. Its main appeal was that it was cheap, although it did appear to be well-assembled. Anyway, this dullard bragged to me that the car had “4 wheel brakes”!

I dryly responded, that all American cars manufactured for the preceding 45 years or so also had 4 wheel brakes. He then regrouped, and revised his bragging statement to, “Yeah, but this car has hydraulic brakes on all 4 wheels”. I then pointed out that all American cars manufactured for the preceding 37 years or so also had that feature. He then informed me that I was…I’ll be more polite than he was…ill-informed.

Rather than attempting any substantive automotive education with him, I just nodded and walked away. As that comedian says, “You just can’t fix stupid”.

Heck, we constantly get people who ask questions about their “Carrola”, or their “Camary”, or their “La Sabra”, or their “Subura Impresa”, or their “Tuarus”, or my personal favorite–the guy who asked a question about his Honda Camry (or was it his Toyota Accord?). If people don’t know the make or model of the car that they drive, or the model year, or the transmission type, or if they don’t even know that they have 4 wheel hydraulic brakes, it is really not a quantum leap to believe that some people don’t know whether their car has ABS or not.

Anyway, my point is that it might be worth discussing this issue with the previous owner, rather than automatically assuming that he/she was trying to dupe you.

I do think it’s possible he really didn’t know it had ABS. Having said that, we did ask twice, and I wish he would have based his answer on something besides an assumption.

We got the car checked out by a mechanic before buying it, but didn’t ask this question because…well, I guess because we thought we knew the answer, and we thought we could trust the guy b/c my family knew him. This is the first used car I’ve purchased, and I’m sure it’s abundantly clear that I’m not much of a car expert. I’ve certainly learned my lesson and would do things differently the next time around.

It sounds like the “value” may be more the value I attach to safety and risk, and not so much the “official” increase or decrease to the value of the car (though I like the idea of possibly asking a dealer). It’s interesting to read about some of the potential cons of ABS, too. And then there’s the question of the value of the relationship my family has with this guy and how much it’s worth it to fight about it if he doesn’t see things the same way…

IMHO ABS is highly overrated. Contrary to popular belief it does not shorten stopping distance but rather helps you remain in control in panic situations. It can actually lengthen your stopping distance under some conditions. Remember, it operates by interfering with the brakes’ hydraulics by pulsating them.

It’s fine if you have to make an evasive maneuver on a paved road at the same time as you slam the brakes on, but if you’re on a gravelly road or trying to make that left turn by my house when the roads are icy it’s a very definite disadvantage. I try going 5 mph (really, no exaggeration), softly press the brakes, the ABS engages because of the extremely low traction, the wheels keep rolling, and I keep going straight. My current car, my first with ABS, is the first vehicle I’ve owned with which I’ve had to give up trying to make that left when the roads are bad.

It should be available as an option for those who like it, but not as standard equipment. says it’s worth about $140.

If it will make you feel any better, insurance company statistics and academic studies are pretty much unanimous in saying that ABS is nearly worthless as a safety feature. It does work after a fashion on the test track – albeit better on dry or wet roads than on sand, gravel, snow or ice. No one knows why its presence doesn’t seem to reduce accidents or make them less serious. The going theory is that people with ABS drive less carefully than those without, but I don’t think many people seriously believe that.

I tend to agree in general…but after looking at the test done with traction/stability control and that ABS is the foundational operating system upon which these addition safety features lie, I still think ABS is worthwhile.

An experienced driver benefits little from abs, but unless you have experience with a deer running out in front of you on a slippery surface, you may react incorrectly. Slam the brakes on and continue to steer as best you can with ABS…instead of slam, freeze and pray. Pump and steer, may be the last thing that comes to mind.
In some cases, ABS DOES decrease stopping distance. Rolling traction is greater than sliding on snow as the treads become snow filled and the snow/water/snow layer increases stopping distance as the wheels lock.

I still trust the engineers and until more studies show otherwise, I will opt for it every time.

Unless I can get my 02 Prism back…then I don’t care.

I think that contained in your post is the answer to the question of why the stats show ABS as virtually worthless. It’s only a benefit under limited conditions and a detriment under many normal driving conditions.

I love my tC, but not its ABS.

I trust the engineers. I were one. But they don’t make the decisions. Marketing, the money guys, and the legal eagles do. My money says that if we saw the data from the engineers it’d probably reflect a different image than the one being presented.

Remember the Challenger spacecraft?

I have my own tales from manufacturing.

“An experienced driver benefits little from abs…”

I disagree. Everyone benefits because we can’t pump the brakes like a mechanical system can. There are situations where ABS doesn’t help, like trying to stop on a sheet of ice. But nothing helps once the slide starts, unless you can gain a bit of traction while you turn into the skid.

I’m afraid you’ll have to count me out when you say “everyone”. I can tell you I personally did better without them for the first 37 years on the road than I have with them for the last 3-1/2. I understand the theory but have found in practice ABS to be a detriment in my driving environment. I suspect that as they become more common we’ll hear more tales of dissatisfaction.

Go to NADA and if there any worth it would show. This is the same idea as texases. $65 sounds fair but check it for yourself.

The problem I have with abs, at least mine, is that it stops functioning at less than about 5 mph which means suddenly, I have to change technique. That may seem petty to most but my road is very steep and can get very slippery and that 5 mph collision with another car going uphill at 25 mph on ice is substantial.

Just to change the subject slightly…
My other problem is the related traction control, which cost me a $500 REAR brake job on BOTH cars with it, at less than 40K. I had normally gone over 100 k on brake jobs with cars W/O these abs related features. I now disengage the trac. on one vehicle but can’t on the other, and add weight to both when taking the daily drive over the mountain to get out and back.

We need a switch that would disengage ABS/traction control/stability control more easily at say, less than 35 mph for ALL cars. I want more choice with all these so called safety features.

But heck…Toyota and others might be out a brake job or two. Traction control has to be a boom to the brake pad industry.

There are actually many drivers who would pay not to have ABS. In another post “Which Accessories are Useful?” in over 90 or so replies, no one mentioned antilock brakes!

Good tires are far more important than anti-lock brakes as is a course in defensive driving!

I was under the impression that ABS usurped the older mechanical antilocks, like the ones I had on the rear of my trucks…that’s the extent of my brake history knowledge. They deactivated the entire rear axle (both brakes) which is not as good. One wheel may still have traction…I still want abs; I just want more control over their use.
Like…I want a safety belt, but I’ll unbuckle it if I’m fording a stream. I’ll scream less swimming in cold water than I will going down with the truck…

All modern cars have available or standard ABS, which provides a rapidly pulsating motion to the brakes when pedal is pushed down hard. It prevents the car from skidding sideways, or so I’m told. In any case they make the car stop straigher in a panic stop; NOT QUICKER OR IN A SHORTER DISTANCE!

Good drivers feel they would rather be in control of the braking process rather than the car computer. As mentioned by ohers ABS is of some use in certain circumstances, otherwise it does not add any value and cost much more to maintain and repair.