Now that we have anti lock braking systems ABS GM...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

Now that we have anti lock braking systems (ABS), GM gives 'em to you at $600-$800 a copy whether you want 'em or not. Autos have operated for over 80 years without them. Please tell us; does the average, careful 10,000 miles-a-year driver actually need ABS?

TOM: I'd say yes, Don. It's kind of like an airbag. You don't PLAN to need it. But if you ever DO need it, you'll be awfully glad it's there.

RAY: That's not to say there's no downside to ABS. There's the initial cost, and there are other things that people aren't talking about. All ABS systems are relatively new now, but eventually, they're going to need repair. And I'm sure fixing or replacing them will not be cheap.

TOM: And while we've heard very few stories of accidents or mishaps due to an anti-lock brake system going haywire, we have heard one or two. Statistically, the risk is practically insignificant, but it isn't zero.

RAY: But despite all that, I'm still in favor of ABS. Antilock brakes help you stay in control of the car when you're making an emergency stop. So rather than skidding out of control, you have a chance to steer the car and keep it going straight, or aim it away from an immovable object. And used correctly, ABS will certainly prevent some accidents.

TOM: And accidents are things you don't plan on having, so it's best to be prepared. In fact, Paul Murky of our in-house firm, Murky Research??, recently found that 95.62% of all accidents in the United States are unplanned! Pretty convincing research, huh?

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