The braking systems of early automobiles were pretty simple. When the driver pushed down on the brake petal, a series of metal rods were pulled that expanded curved brake shoes against the spinning wheel rims. The friction between the brake shoes and the rims slowed the vehicle down. They were pretty simple systems.
The next major upgrade occurred in the 1940s when hydraulic braking systems began to appear on automobiles. Instead of metal rods, hydraulic braking fluid was used to expand the brake shoes against the wheel rims. This system was superior in all respects and was adopted by all the major manufacturers. Fast forward to the 1990s and these hydraulic brake systems started to get smart too. In the late 1970s, Mercedes-Benz introduced the first anti-lock brake system (ABS) whereby sensors monitored skidding wheels and then automatically controlled the brakes for a few moments when skidding occurred.
If the ABS systems of the 1970s were smart, however, then today’s brake systems have genius IQs. For the latest in brake technology, a Long Island Toyota Dealer we spoke with told us to look no further than Toyota’s Star Safety System located in every 2016 Toyota. The Toyota Star Safety System uses six different safety systems all designed to enhance the cars’s stability, braking and traction. Here’s the six systems in detail.
- Anti-lock Brake System (ABS): As we explained above, this technology helps keep your brakes from locking up when skidding conditions are sensed. By using a combination of wheel sensors and a brake system control unit, It’ll keep you in control by rapidly pulsing the brakes in the skidding wheel(s) until stable traction is sensed again. ABS systems are on most cars on the road today.
- Traction Control: This is another feature that helps you regain control when a slippery situation is sensed. The way it works is that when the wheel sensors note that a tire is beginning lose traction, it’ll automatically reduce the engine power and apply brakes on the wheels that need it until you regain traction again.
- Brake Assist: This technology can sense the difference between ordinary braking and emergency situations. Under ordinary situations the brakes operate normally and feel like standard brakes. However, when you hit the brakes hard and fast in an emergency situation, the braking system reacts quickly and applies maximum forces to the brakes. Presumably this is to avoid an imminent collision.
- Electric Brake Force Distribution (EBFD): EBFD redistributes brake force evenly to all of your wheels during emergency braking situations to make up for shifting weights. This system works when braking while traveling in a straight line or when cornering.
- Vehicle Stability Control (VSC): This new system helps prevent side skids and help stabilize the vehicle while turning on a curve. When the VSC computer vehicle senses a loss of traction or a slip, braking is automatically applied to all 4 wheels and engine power is reduced. For example, if the steering wheel refuses to turn from over-speeding, the VSC computer will take control to steer toward the inner curve. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) report on vehicles equipped with VSC compared to those without VSC can effectively reduce accidents by 35% to 67% depending on the make and model of the vehicle.
- Smart Stop Technology: This technology is the simplest to understand. Unfortunately in some panic situations, the driver of a car slams on both the brake and the accelerator at the same time. If this sort of panic situation occurs, the automobile’s computer overrides accelerator and stops the vehicle.