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An ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) is an enhanced braking system which is commonly found in newer automobiles. An anti-lock brake sensor or ABS sensor is a type of tachometer that measures the rotational speed of a wheel and passes it to the car's Engine Control Module (ECM). The ABS sensor is also called the wheel speed sensor or ABS brake sensor. Since all the wheels do not turn at the same speed, the ABS sensors report the speeds of all the four wheels to the ECM, based on which the ECM determines if the wheels are locking up. The application of the ABS brake is quicker than manual brakes. Due to this, when the ABS is engaged, it emits a grinding noise in some automobiles.
Older configurations of ABS had the sensors located outside the wheel hub in parts such as the steering knuckle and differential housing. The ABS sensor is coupled with a ring gear. The ring is mounted on components such as the brake rotor and brake drum. The ABS sensors in newer systems are fitted in the wheel hub assembly itself. Depending on the type of braking system, vehicles may have as few as one or up to four ABS sensors.
The ABS sensor usually consists of a toothed ring and a magnet enclosed within a coil. The contact between the ring and the magnet induces an electric field due to which a signal is generated. This signal is then transformed into a digital signal and sent to the ABS controller. The controller then determines the speed of each wheel accordingly.