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ABS: How safe is a care without them?

by Jerry9254 / May 19, 2007 6:01 AM PDT

I'm thinking about getting a new, cheap car. One I was looking at was pretty cool (and so was the price), but it did not have ABS. So how safe is a care without ABS? Or should I be better off getting a car that comes with ABS?

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Where are you? Here in Boston...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 19, 2007 6:03 AM PDT

There's enough ice and snow that I would not like a car without such. I'm not an Andretti family member.


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I would not sweat it.
by Andy77e / May 19, 2007 8:47 AM PDT

ABS is not something I would consider when buying a car. When GM first came out with ABS in their full size Caprice, police demanded the ABS disabled because they felt they had more control over the car with it off.

If you are on gravel/sand or ice/snow or anything really slick, ABS will not help in the slightest way.

My advice is as follows: The number one safty device in the car is between your ears. If you are less than an inch from the bumper of the guy in front of you, if you can't seem to slow down when going into a turn, if you think a yield sign is just a red arrow pointing which way to go, and you think yellow is just a really off color green, then I can promise you ABS will not help.

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What kinda of car is it?
by kyler / May 19, 2007 3:04 PM PDT

ABS is important, you may not use it or rely on it like you would a seatbelt or airbag, but when it comes time, you'll be glade you have them.
What kind of car/how old is it exactly? Because i had an old 1985 volvo a 'lil while back and it had 4 wheel anti-lock ABS brakes - a nearly 25 yr old car. For being that old, it could stop from 0-60 in as little as 115 feet. Cars without ABS stop in the 140-60 feet range. It makes all the difference.
So if this one your looking at is 10 years old or so, and doesn't have ABS, either it's modified or just incredibly cheap, like a hyundai/kia or something.

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(NT) hyundais and kia come with 4 wheel abs. Please!!!!!
by oludir / May 22, 2007 4:02 AM PDT
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That's strange.
by Andy77e / May 28, 2007 6:49 AM PDT

Everything I have ever read or seen first hand, indicates ABS increases stopping distance. In fact, stopping distance should be longer in an ABS car because ABS prevents locking up the tires.

The main point of ABS is to prevent you from losing control of the car, not to improve stoppind distance. In a non-ABS car, if you, for example, slam the brakes hard while in a turn, you lock up the front tires. Well the front tires dictate direction of the car, so you would lose directional control of the car. ABS prevents lock up, thus alowing you to steer while braking hard.

However is just a straight stop, ABS prevents locking up the tires, which increases stoppind distance. Non-abs can lock the tires which will stop you far sooner.

Stoppind distance is more dictated by the weight of the car, the weight balance of the car (front to back), the size of the tires and size of the brakes. A more balanced car, like a rear wheel drive, or mid-engine car, while stop quicker because more weight is distributed on all four wheels. A car with a lower center of gravity will stop quicker too. But ABS does not help here.

I'm not going to debate it cause it really is a minor thing. I still suggest ABS should be least of your worries when buying a car. If anything, it's one more thing that can screw up on a used car, that wouldn't be worth fixing. Having worked at a dealership, I routinely saw ABS cars with little bits of tape over the ABS light cause it cost $1000 to fix the ABS and the car wasn't even worth that much.

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as safe as the operator?
by punterjoe / May 29, 2007 6:44 AM PDT

I'm not saying ABS doesn't offer an advantage, but the advantage might be narrowed by driving habits. Not to sound smug, I just believe the human brain is usually a far more adaptable mechanism than many 'smart' systems we can build into our cars. I remember as a new driver going into an empty parking lot on a snowy day & practicing recovery from various skids, slides & spins.
If a driver's idea of braking is simply stomping on the pedal, then ABS is probably worth every cent. Otherwise, it may be a plus, but probably not a necessity.

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I'm no Andretti. Where are you? Here in New England....
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 29, 2007 6:50 AM PDT

There is a season where ice and snow covers the road. On a common trip home I have this hill to go down and I make it everytime. The lightest touch on the brakes and the antilock is working and I can steer but not stop as I make my way down that hill.

The people who try that without ABS usually fly down the hill and into the field. Or the best one was a "spinner" all the way down.

If it wasn't for such foul conditions I'd write it was something we could do without.


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