BRAKE TECH Master Cylinders and ABS Systems

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When you use the brake pedal, fluid is transferred to the lines and calipers to create the friction needed to get your Ford Truck stopped. That motion of the brake pedal is turned into that pressure by the Master Cylinder.

That’s not all, in modern times there has been a second piece between the master cylinder and calipers and that is the Anti-Lock Brake System. How do these two pieces work in conjunction with each other? We’ll explore that in this article.

The brake master cylinder is the part you usually see under the brake fluid reservoir. A rod at the back pushes a plunger that forces fluid out of it to the brake lines.


In OEM applications, the master cylinder operates both the front and rear brakes but as two separate circuits. It does it in two circuits so that if one fails, the other can still function. In a race truck, front and rear master cylinders are separate from each other.

A system that has come in since the early 1990’s is the Anti-Lock Brake System, or ABS. This system uses wheel speed sensors and an electronic module to compare the speeds of the wheels as you step on the brakes.

If it detects that one wheel is starting to slow faster than the others, it will reduce pressure at that wheel through a solenoid in the hydraulic module. Light-duty Ford trucks, at one time, had a version known as R-ABS, which operated only the rear wheels as they were most prone to locking up in an unloaded bed.

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1983 F-150 Flareside 4×4 photo courtesy of TexasPlowboy

Justin Banner is a regular contributor to LS1Tech and JK Forum, among other auto sites.

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