How ABS Anti-Lock Braking Works In a Truck

How ABS anti-lock braking works in a vehicle is something that many people are yet to understand. Long ago, braking was difficult as you had to pump the brake pedal for your truck not to skid while braking. The anti-lock braking system (ABS) has revolutionized braking and made it safer. All modern vehicles, including trucks, have an anti-lock braking system. The ABS is a very familiar term though you might not be able to know what it is and how it works.

What is Anti-Lock Brake?

The anti-lock brakes are made to prevent your truck from skidding when you sharply apply brakes. The wheels will lock when your truck is speeding, and you apply brakes instantly. Locked wheels interfere with wheel traction, making the driver lose control of the truck. The ABS is made to prevent wheel locks during an emergency braking. 

How ABS Anti-Lock braking Works

A truck with ABS has a sensor on each wheel hub. These sensors determine the speed at which the wheels are rotating and the rate at which your truck accelerates or decelerates. The sensors are part of the electronic stability control (ESC). Not all trucks with the ABS have the ESC, but you can never find the ESC in a truck without the ABS. 

If you make a sharp brake, the ABS will sense if your wheels are almost locking, reducing and increasing the braking pressure instantly. When this happens, the wheels will not skip. The excess pressure triggered by the ABS enables the wheels to keep moving as the truck slows down instead of locking. The driver will have absolute control of the truck. 

The ABS brakes do not function when you brake gently. They only become effective when you press the brake pedal instantly, for example, during an emergency braking. During your driving lessons, the instructor asked you to apply the emergency brakes at some point. When you do it the right way, you will feel the brake ‘judder’, resulting from the ABS activating when your brakes are rapidly engaging.

The ABS will function effectively on dry and solid road surfaces. It will give you the ability to brake instantly and control your truck. The ABS will increase the stopping distance since it will gradually release the brake in small intervals. 

The ABS may not be effective on extreme surfaces like mud, snow, ice, and gravel. Such surfaces do not provide good wheel traction. Therefore, your truck will skid.

Components of Anti-lock Braking System

The anti-lock braking system has 4 components that enable it to perform its role effectively.

  1. The speed sensors which notifies the system when the wheels are about to lock.
  2. Valves control pressure in every brake line.
  3. The pump increases pressure in the brake line when the valve reduces pressure.
  4. The controller is a computer in the truck which is monitoring the speed sensors and controls the valves.


The ABS anti-lock braking system is one of the safety features every modern truck has. This system enables the driver to have full control of their truck in a situation of emergency braking. Hopefully our guide on how ABS anti-lock braking works helped you learn more about it.

Why Do Truck Brakes Lock When Driving?

Brakes are some of the most crucial safety features for your truck. You need to do regular brake system maintenance. If they decide to lock up when you need them most, it can be very dangerous. Such a scenario can make some drivers to panic. Let us look at why truck brakes lock when driving and give you details of what you need to do when it happens.

Why Do Truck Brakes Lock When Driving?

Brake locking on your truck can be a result of several causes. The problem of brake lock boils down to two scenarios. First, it happens at that moment you least expected, and second, if you press hard the brakes at once. Below are some of the possible common causes of brake locks when driving. 


The Anti-Lock Braking System sometimes develops complications. If it happens, your brakes will lock up. Some trucks will show the ABS check light on the dashboard to signal the potential issue with the ABS. Never ignore this light whenever it appears. Instead, take your truck for a diagnostic to establish and fix the problem. 

When performing the diagnostic, some codes will be generated, which the technician will study to determine the actual problem with your ABS. 

The Brake Calipers

Sometimes, brake locks might not result from the ABS issues. Consider the brake calipers as another potential cause in such a scenario. For your brakes to function correctly, various components work together. The brake calipers squeeze the brake pads, making them cling to the brake rotors. Such action stops your truck. 

Three parts facilitate the movement of the brake calipers. The first part is the slide pins, which they move on. The hydraulic fluid is the second part, which generates pressure that pushes them, and finally, the caliper pistons.

Sometimes, the pins or the pistons can become warped or affected by the surrounding conditions. In such a scenario, your brakes will lock. In such situations, your mechanic will inspect and check the brake calipers’ state and their components. If they are faulty, your mechanic will consider replacing them. 

The Hydraulic System

The hydraulic brake system also causes the brakes to lock up. The hydraulic system is a significant component of the braking system. Whenever you press the brake pedals, the hydraulic fluid will be released and generate pressure, making the brake calipers clump the brake pads. When the brake pads are clamped, they will cause friction on the brake rotors, slowing or stopping your truck. 

The hydraulic fluids operate in tubes. If there is a breakage in the lines, it will not be able to generate adequate pressure and leak. Such instances will lead to brake lock up. If your technician realizes the hydraulic system has a problem, they will check the brake fluid first. If they find it low, they will check if the valves and the seals on the master cylinder are okay. They will also check for leaks in the lines. 


Most fatal accidents result from the problems of brakes locking up at the moment when the driver needs them most. If you find yourself in such an ugly situation, stay calm and consider the above reasons as the potential causes. 

Common Truck Braking Problems in Winter

Sometimes the cold temperatures are not friendly to your truck. If you live in areas that experience the winter season, you should be on a high alert and respond in time if you note anything weird is happening to your truck. Winter weather can damage the body, the engine, the exhaust system, and other vital parts of your truck. In this guide, we will be looking at some of the common truck braking problems in winter.

Truck Braking Problems in Winter

During winter, the truck braking system might experience various issues, but some are very common, and you should know such issues as long as you own a truck. 


Snow touches every part of your truck. When the truck is in motion, it will generate heat which changes the state of snow to liquid. In some states, the roads are cleared from snow and ice using salt. The salt comes into contact with the brakes as you drive. 

When you park your truck long, the water and the salt particles start to react with the metallic parts of the brake to form rust. 

How To Know Rusty brake

When your brakes are rusty, you will hear a squeaking sound when you press the brake pedal. You will also feel a reduction in your braking power. It is necessary to inspect your brakes when you experience any of the above signs when driving. 

Brake Line Problems

Winter increases compounds such as salts on road surfaces. Such components are likely to corrode and damage the brake lines. If the brake lines have cracks, there is a high probability of water droplets contacting the brake fluid, which might interfere with its freezing point. 

How to Know Your Brake Lines Have Problems

When your brake lines are damaged, and the brake fluid will have water droplets, you will find it hard to stop your truck. Your brakes will likely drag after removing your foot from the brake pedal.

Overheating Brakes

During winter, your brakes are likely not to function normally. You will have to exert more pressure on the brakes for your truck to stop. The more pressure on the braking system makes them overheat. The brakes generate heat when you press the brake pedals and hold them for a while. Overheating interferes with the performance of the brakes.

How to Know Your Brakes are Overheating

Your brakes are likely to produce a squeaky sound and take time to respond when you apply them. The squeaky sound and unresponsiveness result from the wearing out of the brakes due to too much heat. Generally, when the brakes are hot, they temporarily become unable to stop your truck.

To prevent overheating, stop pressing the brake pedal for a longer duration. Try braking smoothly as you keep a safer distance between you and other vehicles. 


These common winter braking problems must not have to happen to your truck. Consider inspecting your brakes before, during, and after winter for safety. Keeping your brakes in good condition helps you avoid braking issues and promotes safer driving.

Why My Truck Pulls Sideways When Braking

We apply brakes in many instances, like when we want to stop our trucks or even during an emergency. Brakes can save us from a truck crash. Therefore, the brake is an integral part of your truck. Whenever you apply it, some hopes of controlling your truck come. But in some circumstances, using brakes can be hell and traumatizing, especially when you feel your truck is moving either left or right. The sideways movement at high speed can be dangerous as the truck can easily veer off the road. Let us look at some of the reasons why your truck pulls sideways when braking. 

Tires Problems

When you step on the brakes, then realize that your truck is making either a left or right pull. The first culprit you should check is the tires. If your tire treads wear out uniformly, are not correctly fitted, or are even under-inflated, they can cause sideways pull.

Fitting a new tire can cause this problem if you only fit a new single tire and the rest are old. Buying new sets of tires for an axle is necessary to avoid pulling while braking. It is safer to install new tires at the rear axle and slightly older ones at the front axle because, during braking, the rear wheels feel more load and lose grip faster than the front tires. 

Braking System Problem

When your braking system is faulty, there is a higher chance of your truck pulling sideways when braking. Sticky brake calipers and faulty wheel cylinder causes uneven grab on the wheels. Some wheels may be grabbed more than others, leading to your truck pulling sideways when braking. 

When driving, your truck can usually pull sideways when the brake is dragging. Under such circumstances, your brake will heat up, and you will feel a burning smell in your truck. You must check the braking system and make the necessary repairs to fix this. 

Poor Wheel Alignment

Poor wheel alignment is another cause of your truck dragging sideways as you brake. Many truck owners usually forget about wheel alignment as they service their trucks. What is wheel alignment? We can define it as the angle of the wheels against one another and the entire body of your truck. 

Three main adjustments take place when performing a wheel alignment. First, the toe angle shows the side the wheels point at, either in or out. Second, the chamber angle is how your will is tilted against the body of your truck. Third, the castor angle determines how verticle the wheel is against the suspension. 

When your wheels are not aligned properly, you will feel the sideways pullings when braking, uneven tire wear, and handling problems. You must perform wheel alignment whenever you fix new tires or service your drum or disc brakes. 


The problem with the truck pulling sideways when driving is a sign of a problem that needs attention on your truck. If you note it, consider checking your wheel alignment, the condition of your tires, and the brakes. 

Choosing the Best Brake Fluid

The braking system has several parts which work jointly to stop your truck. The brake fluid is an essential part of the braking system. It is a hydraulic system that plays the role of causing tension on the brake caliper when the driver presses the brake pedal. Previously we said that the brake fluid is hygroscopic and can decrease in quality or wear out. In such a situation, replacing the brake fluid is necessary. Let us focus on choosing the best brake fluid.

Choosing the Best Brake Fluid

Brake Fluid Choices

Like engine oil, there are several brake fluids in the market to buy. The fluids differ in price, and the synthetic fluids are the most expensive ones. On many occasions, brake fluid designed for racing cars may not function effectively in street driving.

The Difference Between DOT3, DOT4, DOT 5, and DOT 5.1

DOT is the department of transport, which spells out the number of properties of standard brake fluid, putting aside its chemical composition. Such properties include the boiling of the liquid, its ability to flow, and how stable the liquid is when exposed to high temperatures.

The minimum boiling point of the brake fluids has risen from DOT3 to the latest generations. As a reminder, ‘DRY’ and ‘WET’  are standard terms when dealing with brake fluids. The new brake fluid is dry and has no content of water moisture. WET brake fluid is that which has absorbed moisture from the surrounding.

As much as we strive to keep our brake fluid dry, some water components have to find themselves in the brake fluid. What happens to the moisture as it comes in contact with the brake fluids? Figure it out this way. 

When driving in the city during summer, the calipers will be hot due to regular stops and start in the traffic. The brake fluid will boil when it comes into contact with the hot calipers. The vapor which comes out as the liquid is boiling makes the fluid travel longer when pressing the brake pedal. In such a case, your bake pedals will be soft. The water vapor which your brake fluid absorbs reduces its boiling point. 

The primary brake fluids DOT3 and 4 are glycol ether, but the DOT4 has an added ester, increasing its boiling point. The DOT 5 has silicon which does not absorb water. The DOT 5 cannot absorb moisture. Therefore, the water droplets on the braking system might cause rust to other brake components.

It is risky to combine DOT 3 &4 with DOT 5 because of their chemical components, which might gel and lead to poor braking. If you need to use DOT 5, perform thorough flushing of your system in order not to destroy the seal damage.

If switching from drum to disc braking, consider using DOT 4 fluids like the Pentosin super DOT4 Synthetic fluid. The quality of DOT 4 makes it to be more resistant to moisture and can contain rust.


Knowing the various variants of brake fluids available in the market is essential. Consequently, such knowledge will help you understand every brake fluid’s properties and if it is possible to mix them. 

How Do Brake Drum and Shoes Work In a Truck?

A standard truck uses the drum braking system, especially on the rear wheels. The drum braking system has various components which work hand in hand to bring your truck to a halt whenever you press the brake pedal. The brake drum and the brake shoes are some of the components of the drum braking system. How do brake drum and brake shoes work in a truck?

How Do Brake Drum and Shoes Work

Brake Drum

As the name suggests, the brake drum looks like a typical drum or a trough though small in size. It is a metallic substance made of iron that significantly stops your truck when you press the brake pedal. The brake drum is fitted on the wheel hub and rotates as the wheel rotates. In the brake drum, brake shoes press against the walls of the brake drum to stop your truck. 

Brake Shoes 

The pressure from the wheel cylinder forces the brake shoes to slide and press against the brake drum. The brake shoes are made of organic or sometimes metallic compounds which wear out as they create friction to stop your truck. It is the brake shoes where the entire activities of the braking system end. How brake drum and brake shoes work. Brake shoes are usually two, located inside the brake drum. They are in the opposite direction, facing the front and the other the rear part of the drum. 

How the Brake Drum and Brake Shoes Work

The working principle of the drum braking system begins right inside the truck as soon as you press the brake pedal, which will compress the fluid in the master cylinder. The pressure from the brake fluid will expand the wheel cylinder pistons. 

The wheel cylinders are directly connected to the brake shoes. Any activity on the brake cylinder must occur on the brake shoes. As the wheel cylinder receives pressure from the brake fluid, it expands outwards. The outward expansion exerts pressure on the brake shoes, which also expand outward. Remember, the brake shoes are right inside the brake drum. When they expand outward, they will press against the walls of the brake drum. 

As the lining of the brake shoes comes into contact with the brake drum, a lot of friction is generated between the drum and the shoe. Friction is responsible for two things. First, the wheels of your truck have to reduce the velocity of rotation and stop. Second, the lining of the brake shoes will tear and wear with time. 

The brake shoes have retracting rings. These rings move the brake shoes in the inward direction when you leave pressing the brake pedal. The inward motion of the brake shoes ends the friction on the brake drum and enables the brake pedal to move to its original position as you prepare to press it again. 


The braking process starts right when you place your foot on the brake pedals. Some activities take place, sending the pressure to the brake shoe and the brake drum. The brake drum and the brake shoes are the component of the drum braking system where the entire activities of the braking system end. It is an important safety component that can save your life if working perfectly. 

Symptoms of bad Brake Master Cylinder

The master brake cylinder is that part of the braking system whose primary responsibility is to convert the pressure from the brake pedal to hydraulic pressure. It does this by releasing the brake fluid into the brake circuit in a controlled manner according to the force the driver applies on the brake pedal. Both the disc and the drum brakes have the master cylinder. In this guide, we will go through some of the symptoms of a bad brake master cylinder.

Symptoms of bad Brake Master Cylinder

The master cylinder is a mechanical part of the braking system and might experience some technical hitches which might make it malfunction. In such a case, your truck will show weird symptoms. You must know such symptoms as they will enable you to tell whether your master cylinders need a mechanical check-up. 

Check Lights on the Dashboard

The brake warning lights on your dashboard are the easiest way to realize a problem with your master cylinder, but when the light shows up, it does not necessarily mean that it is the master cylinder having trouble. The brake check light will show when other parts of the braking system are faulty.

If the brake sensors detect a drop in the pressure of the brake fluid, it will show a brake check light. In this case, consider checking the condition of the master cylinder. A bad cylinder interferes with the level of the brake fluid. 

If the master cylinder leaks fluids, the ABS check light will show up. 

Leaking Brake Fluid

There is a minimum level of brake fluid that your master cylinder will need for it to create hydraulic pressure. It is the hydraulic pressure that performs the role of slowing down your truck. If your master cylinder leaks the brake fluid, the fluid’s level will have to go down, and stopping your truck becomes difficult. In such a condition, consider replacing your master cylinder. 

A Soft or Spongy Brake Pedals

You will realize that your master cylinder is having problems when you feel your brake pads are soft when you apply maximum pressure on them. The master cylinder has rubber seals. The primary role of rubber seals is to prevent brake fluid leakages. If the rubber seals are faulty, the brake fluid will leak, leading to a spongy brake pedal.

Contaminated Brake Fluid

Another sign that your master cylinder is faulty is when you note that your brake fluid has dirt particles. The dirt gets into the brake fluid when the rubber seals are faulty. The role of the rubber seals is to keep the brake fluid in its place and prevent any contaminant from coming into contact with it.

The presence of impurities in the brake fluid interferes with the generation of adequate pressure to stop your truck. You will realize that you are pressing the pedals very hard, but you still find your truck braking as usual.


The master cylinder generates the hydraulic pressure necessary to stop your truck. However, when the master cylinder is faulty, your vehicle is likely not to eliminate correctly. The brakes might fail to function or respond slowly. This guide has shown some signs that your master cylinder is faulty.

Choosing Between Ceramic vs Organic Brakes for Trucks

The disc braking system has pads. These brake pads receive pressure when you press the brake pedal. Upon receiving the pressure, brake pads press against the rotors causing friction. It is the friction that will halt your truck. Ceramic and organic pads are some of the most common brake pads in the market. Most truck owners find themselves at crossroads when choosing the best brake pads during shopping. In this guide will look at these two types of brake pads to help you decide before buying any. This is the ceramic vs organic brakes.

Choosing Between Ceramic vs Organic Brakes for Trucks

Ceramic Brake Pads

Ceramic brake pads are relatively durable in comparison to their counterparts, the organic pads. Their durability is accredited to the fact that they rub less against the brake rotors when you press the pedals. When in use, they produce minimal dust and stick less on the parts of your wheel.

The ceramic brake pads are resilient to any weather. Extreme conditions such as very high or low temperatures do not affect their performance. The ceramic pads have proven reliable and affordable to middle-class truck owners.

In terms of market price, ceramic brake pads are relatively expensive compared to organic brake pads. Ceramic brake pads are stronger than organic brake pads, but semi-metallic brake pads are stronger than them.

If you only have two options, the ceramic and the organic brake pads, consider installing the ceramic pads for your truck.

Organic Brake Pads

The organic brake maker used natural materials like rubber or various organic materials to produce the organic brake pads. 

What makes organic brake pads popular is the fact that they are soft as compared to ceramic brake pads. They always give soft and quiet braking whenever you press the brake pedal.

Currently, the sky-rocketing inflation is forcing every truck owner to think of an alternative way of cutting the cost of almost all parts of their truck. Regarding market prices, organic brake pads are relatively cheaper than ceramic brake pads. They are affordable to all truck owners. 

Organic brake pads are the best for you if you only use your truck locally and do not drive long distances. Why are they preferred for short-distance drives? They wear out quickly and produce a lot of brake dust when regularly applied. 

Organic brakes heat up very fast, which can cause brake failure when driving. If your truck has organic brake pads, never over-press them, as this will make them overheat.

If you own a lightweight truck, consider installing organic brake pads, as they are suitable for small, lightweight cars. But for heavy-weight trucks, ceramic brake pads are the ideal brake pads.


The organic and ceramic brake pads are not ideal for heavy-duty trucks and high-performing cars. In such a scenario, consider installing metallic brake pads. It depends on the individual’s taste and preferences. You can as well pick any of the above options.

If your driving is more urban-based and you have more coins to spend on brake pads. Consider installing ceramic brake pads, which produce less noise and brake dust. Organic brake pads are cheaper than ceramic brake pads. They are meant to give you safer braking and safeguard your bank.

Brake Shoes VS Brake Pads – Which Is Right For My Truck?

All trucks have a braking system that aids the drivers in controlling and stopping them when necessary. The braking system differs depending on the truck’s size and the wheels’ position. The most common types of brakes are the drum and disc brakes. The drum brakes rely on brake shoes to stop your truck, while the disc brake uses brake pads. From this guide, you will get to understand the difference between the two by looking at head-on comparison of brake shoes vs brake pads.

Brake Shoes vs Brake Pads – Differences

The disc braking system has brake rotors that rotate as the wheel spins. It is the role of brake pads to apply pressure on the rotors to stop your truck. On the other hand, the drum braking system has a drum brake that rotates as the wheels spin. In the drum, there are brake shoes whose roles are to apply pressure on the walls of the brake drum to stop your truck. 

The drum brakes have been the traditional braking system of vehicles since their invention, but the disc brakes are the latest technology in the braking system. The old trucks use drum brakes, but the newer ones use disc brakes. Some trucks use drum and disc brakes—the difference between the two.


You will realize that your truck has these two braking systems. At the front axle, you will find the disc brakes and the brake shoes at the rear axle. If your truck is a front-wheel drive, you will realize it has both drum and disc brakes. 

Most 4WD or all-wheel drive trucks have only disc brakes with brake discs fitted on each wheel. 


The brake pads resist heat and keep friction away from the brake discs making them more efficient in stopping your truck than the brake drums. The brake pads have a better response, especially during extreme weather conditions.

The ability of the brake pads to resist heat makes them perfect for the front axle and gives them a longer lifespan compared to brake shoes. In terms of replacement, the brake pads carry the day. They are easy to access, making anyone with mechanical background replace them. 


As mentioned earlier, brake pads are more resistant to heat, making them more durable than brake shoes. The main advantage of brake shoes over brake pads is that you can reuse them. Once the brake pads are worn out, you must dispose of them.


The market price brings a significant difference between the two pads. The brake shoes are relatively cheaper compared to the brake pads. The distinct features of the brake pads, such as the ability to resist heat, make them more expensive. On the other hand, brake shoes overheat very fast and can be recycled, making them relatively cheap.


It isn’t easy to make a final verdict on the kind of brake shoes which is suitable for your truck. Some trucks use brake pads and brake shoes, and others use the brake pads alone. Your test and preferences will aid you in choosing the correct places for your truck.