Driver And Driving

What Is Stab Braking Mean? Compare Stab Braking Vs ABS

Mike Cross
Updated Aug 27, 2021
What Is Stab Braking?

Truck drivers, as well as older car drivers are usually very familiar with a term of stab braking. Older vehicles did not have an ABS system, and the brake control was all up to the driver.

If you need to perform an emergency full power stopping in car like this, chances are that your wheels will lock up. This has many downsides and hazards. First, brake lock-up damages the tire by creating a flat-spot. Secondly, stopping distance is longer when the brakes are locked. But the most dangerous side-effect is not having an ability to steer.

Mechanic checking truck in the garage
Mechanic checking truck in the garage

No matter what you do with the steering wheel, your car will keep sliding forward. This is quite inconvenient and extremely dangerous if there is an obstacle in front of you. You need to be able to steer left or right while braking, and this is where the stab braking comes into play. This emergency braking technique is performed in a following manner:

  • Step on the brake pedal as hard as you can and wait until the wheels lock-up
  • Release the brake pedal to allow wheels to resume rolling
  • With wheels rolling, re-apply the brake
  • Repeat until stopped

This way you will gain more traction and have steering control while braking.

However, if are a less experienced driver or have never driven a car without ABS, this can be a bit tricky.

Releasing the brake while you are desperately trying to stop the car is very counterintuitive. You might find that overcoming this mental obstacle in a high stress situation is very hard, if not impossible.

So, it is a good idea to practice on a safe and empty course. Find an empty parking lot or a driving course, and do several practice runs. This way you will know what to do if the need occurs.

Btw, if you are trucker, I think you should buy the best gps for truck if you want to find direction.

What Is Stab Braking?
What Is Stab Braking?

What is the Stab Braking mean?

Stab braking is the system that is prevalent even today in cars without anti-lock braking system.

It is a kind of wheel locking mechanism, where you brake hard and the wheels get locked immediately.

When you hear the screeching sound, you release the brake pedal and hit it hard again within a second.

Stab braking and ABS

Almost any newer car has an ABS, which is short for 'Antiblockiersystem'. If your car is equipped with this system, than it will do the 'stabbing' action instead of you. All you need to do is press the brake pedal as much as you can, and let the sensors and pumps to do the rest.

You might ask yourself - why are we talking about this ancient braking style. Well, as with any other piece of automotive equipment, ABS can fail from various reasons. Failed sensors, damaged wiring or rusted out reluctor rings are just some of the common problems.

It is also possible for ABS pump or electronic control unit to go bad. All of this will make your ABS system inoperable, leaving you alone with your brakes.

Now, this is not the end of the world. Although a faulty ABS is a safety concern that makes your car less stable, you can still drive your car.

Bear in mind that you will have to adjust your driving style to meet this new conditions.  Drive slower than you would usually do and keep a greater distance from a vehicle in front of you.

When braking, make sure that you are pressing the brake pedal gently and gradually. Follow this instructions, and you will be able to drive safely with a broken ABS system. However, you should fix your ABS system as soon as possible. Let's see how to do it.

For start, you should get a scan tool that can read ABS system errors in your car. This will steer you towards a faulty part. Read and store the codes. If needed, look up explanations on the Internet. This are the most common problems regarding the ABS system.

  • Wheel speed sensors are first to fail in most cases. They are exposed to dirt, snow and water. Sensor wiring can get physically damaged if hitted by road debris or during some previous work. Visually check for wiring or connector damage. Good news that speed sensors are not very expensive, and are easily replaced.
  • A reluctor ring is another usual weak point. As with wheel speed sensors, these steel rings endure harsh weather. Over time, they can get damaged by corrosion it that extent that it upsets sensor readings. They are cheap, but usually require for a wheel hub to be removed.
  • Last option is a ABS pump internal failure or electronic control unit damage. This devices are expensive, and require special brake line bleeding tools.

Pro tips:

  • Wheel speed sensors can get stuck firmly within the wheel hub, and removing them can be very hard. If you apply some WD40 or penetrating oil, you will have a much better chance on pulling them out.
  • A reluctor ring must not touch a wheel speed sensors. When you remove a faulty wheel speed sensors, check the side that faces the reluctor ring. Any wear marks here will indicate that the reluctor ring is out of round, and must be replaced.


Whether you drive a car without ABS system, or your ABS system is broken, avoid wheel lock-up on braking at all cost. If the wheels on your car do lock up, release the brake pedal briefly to get them rolling again. After that, press the brake pedal again. This way you will have both stopping power and steering control. And that is what you need to safely bring your car to a halt.

Mike Cross
Life is too short to drive with stock audio

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