Is there any advantage with ABS to still pump the brake pedal?

Owners of older (pre-ABS) cars were sometimes advised to “pump the brakes” b/c that helped avoid lock ups, making the car hard to control. And sometimes the justification was to prevent brake overheating, for example on long downhills. Personally, even though all my cars have been pre-ABS, I’ve never pumped the brakes. I just press as lightly as possible on the brake pedal w/an even force that still stops the car in the required distance. But now most cars have ABS, is there ever a reason to pump the brakes?

If you have ABS, then there is no reason to pump the brakes. the ABS sort of does it for you.


If you have ABS, then there is no reason to pump the brakes. the ABS sort of does it

If I remember right a neighber lady bought a new I think 99 Chevy Barreta when she got home one night she askedand found out the ABS me to drive it as something did’nt feel right I had driven the car before but this time did’nt feel right to me either next day took it to the dealer and found out the ABS had finaly started working were as it was not working before.

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No, do not pump ABS brakes. Slam the pedal as hard as you can and hold it until the car stops.


Yep, as part of our sheriff “Citizens Academy “ we were allowed to driver patrol cars on a closed course, the end consisted of a set of cones we were to enter a speed, then press the brake pedal hard and let the ABS take over, worked perfect. I could have avoided a couple of accidents when I was a teenager had ABS been around back then.

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When the abs module goes out and the abs no longer works and you will not repair it, then yes… lol

But on vehicles with working abs, NO, let it do it’s job…

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You’re supposed to pump the brake pedal if the brakes fail, ABS or not. Without ABS you can practice threshold braking when braking with working brakes.

Do not pump the brakes each time you let up off the brake pedal you increase your stopping distances.

Your antilock brakes already pulses or pumps your brakes several times per second faster than what is humanly possible. The system does a superior job and by trying to duplicate the effort yourself it’s like what happens when two people try to change a lightbulb.

I remember when the law requiring antilock brakes be standard on new vehicles, went into effect. There was a campaign slogan to remind people not to pump their brakes it was called STOMP, HOLD and STEER.

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You’ve brought up two different situations here. As correctly stated by others, in an emergency stop, you don’t pump the brakes. On a long downhill stretch, ABS didn’t change the fact that you want to take your foot off the brakes regularly so that they don’t overheat.


How does taking your foot off the brake regularly prevent overheating? It just lets some air in between the friction surfaces which would slightly help with cooling as far as I can see.

?? Releasing the brake pedal stops the heat generation and helps the heat removal, like you said. However, it’s better to downshift and use engine braking.


You answered your own question basically…

Fun fact-one of the first production “vehicles” with ABS was the B-47. No thrust reversers, very low drag, high landing speed, so it neede all the help it could get. It also had a drougue chute.

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That thing was not supposed to feel right. Regardless of ABS.

There is one scenario when you do need to pump brakes - on an extremely slippery surface, all wheels lock up before ABS kicks in and - from ABS’ perspective - the vehicle is not moving, and the system doesn’t work. It operates by measuring angular speed of each wheel and slows down those that spin faster but when none spins…

Haven’t had much bad weather but I have one hill with a stop sign at the bottom and cross traffic where I have experienced it. Letting abs do its thing just moves you through the intersection without stopping. So I let up on the brake which allows me to turn away from the intersection instead of going into cross traffic. Hard to explain but your instincts take over after any years and a million miles. There is no 100% answer to just let abs take over. Now I’m talking ice and slick polished intersections that you couldn’t stand up on but you can still control a car on. For fun we’d drive out on a frozen lake and test our skills.

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Yep, that’s exactly the scenario I was talking about.
There are plenty of youtube winter crash videos that show accidents when ABS doesn’t work.

ABS was designed so you can steer when is working. And it does exactly that.

As far as glare ice and lack of speed signal, ABS still works because it knows there was speed and now there isn’t so it will release the brakes so rotation can occur. And it is unlikely all 4 wheels lock intantly and simultaneously so that scenario really doesn’t occur.

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Some people in this forum have complained in the past that–supposedly–“ABS results in longer stopping distances”. As you stated, ABS exists in order to allow a driver to steer the vehicle while simultaneously exerting maximum brake force. That would simply not be possible w/o ABS.

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That scenario does occur alright. But feel free to think otherwise.