Introduction to Brake Control Systems: ABS, TCS, and ESC C0315

Once reserved for high-end luxury vehicles, electronic brake control systems are now required standard equipment on even the most inexpensive cars and trucks. Today, every new vehicle benefits from the optimized braking, enhanced acceleration, and improved stability that these systems provide. This comprehensive seminar introduces participants to the system-level design considerations, vehicle interface requirements, and inevitable performance compromises that must be addressed when implementing these technologies.

The seminar begins by defining the tire-road interface and analyzing fundamental vehicle dynamics. Following an in-depth study of system electronics, hydraulic hardware, and sensor requirements, the participants learn about the control strategies employed by anti-lock brakes (ABS), dynamic rear proportioning (DRP), traction control (TCS), and electronic stability control (ESC) with a heavy emphasis placed on the resulting vehicle dynamics. The seminar concludes with a study of unique applications, a look forward to advanced brake control system integration, and an overview of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 126. Over 500 pages of detailed course notes and illustrations are provided for on-the-job reference.

This course has been approved by the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR) for 13 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Upon completion of this seminar, accredited reconstructionists should mail a copy of their course certificate and the $5 student CEU fee to ACTAR, PO Box 1493, North Platte, NE 69103.
Learning Objectives

By attending this seminar, you will be able to:

  • Analyze brake system design parameters and their vehicle performance effects
  • Evaluate the compromises between stability, steerability, and stopping distance
  • Identify the discrete mechanical components required for ABS
  • Specify fundamental ABS performance attributes
  • Calculate dynamic brake balance and explain the benefits of DRP
  • Reconcile TCS performance expectations vs. method of implementation
  • Define ESC perfornance metrics and physical limitations
  • Assess features such as adaptive cruise control and brake assist
  • Interpret federal requirements for the performance of ESC

Who Should Attend

This course has been developed for engineers involved in all fields related to the design or development of vehicle dynamics, vehicle braking systems, powertrain systems, chassis systems, or suspension systems. In addition, this course can be valuable to those with component design responsibilities in brake, chassis, suspension, or tire disciplines.

Individuals new to the field of brake control systems will benefit most from the material; this introductory course is not intended for individuals with significant experience with brake control systems. In addition, please note that because of proprietary considerations this class does not provide details of algorithm design, algorithm performance, or algorithm application. Instead, the course places strong emphasis on vehicle dynamic responses.


An undergraduate engineering degree or a strong technical background is highly recommended. A basic knowledge of college algebra, college physics, and a familiarity with vehicle brake and suspension systems is required.

Also available as an SAE On Demand Course!
Introduction to Brake Control Systems: ABS, TCS, and ESC (PD730501)


“My colleagues and I are extremely satisfied with this seminar. It has opened our eyes to an entirely new aspect of braking systems! I truly feel more interested in braking systems, and the instructor lectures provided such a good perspective on the technical aspects of design. Life after the course produced motivation and encouragement to research more heavily in critical areas of study per our future dilemmas. Thank you!!”
William J. Burns
Product Engineer
Cardone Industries, Brakes Division Product Engineering


"Forget any general idea you may have about brakes; this class introduces the complexity of the brake control systems and the engineering design that goes into it."
Tim Lowe
Quality Engineering Powertrain
Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky


"Very good introduction to brake control systems. Our class had many different levels of knowledge coming into the class. I believe everyone was able to come away with new knowledge and understanding."
Kevin Adams
Staff Engineer
Honda of America Mfg., Inc.


"This class was extremely enjoyable and really opened my eyes to the complexity and importance of brake control systems. I had no idea how influenced they were to so many systems, and I feel it will definitely make me a better engineer"
Eddie Mehl
Engineering Staff
Honda of America Mfg, Inc.


You must complete all course contact hours and successfully pass the learning assessment to obtain CEUs.


  • Tire-Road Interface Characteristics
    • Defining slip
    • Longitudinal mu-slip relationship
    • Lateral mu-slip relationship
    • The friction circle
  • Hydraulic Brake System Overview
    • What do braking systems do?
    • How does each component contribute?
    • What are the underlying fundamental relationships?
    • How does this apply to brake control systems?
  • Stability, Steerability, Stopping Distance
    • Stability
    • Steerability
    • Stopping Distance
    • Illustrate with friction circle
  • Mechanization of ABS
    • ECU functions and components
    • HCU functions and components
    • ABS hold, release, and apply functions
    • Diagnostics and warning lamp considerations
  • ABS Sensor Overview
    • The role of sensors
    • Wheel speed sensors
    • Brake apply state sensors
    • Longitudinal accelerometers
  • ABS Performance
    • ABS objectives and strategies
    • Basics of ABS wheel control
    • ABS performance on homogeneous surfaces
    • ABS performance under other conditions


  • DRP Performance
    • Weight transfer and brake proportioning
    • Looking back: the proportioning valve
    • DRP strategies, wheel control, and performance
    • DRP benefits, design compromises, and limitations
  • Mechanization of TCS and ESC
    • Additional ECU functions and components
    • Additional HCU functions and components
    • Pressure build sequence
  • TCS Performance
    • TCS objectives and strategies
    • Basics of TCS wheel control
    • TCS performance under various conditions
    • Driveline architecture interactions
  • ESC Sensor Requirements
    • The role of sensors
    • Steering angle sensors
    • Brake pressure sensors
    • Lateral accelerometers and yaw rate sensors
  • ESC Performance
    • The physics of turning
    • ESC objectives
    • ESC strategies and basics of wheel control
    • ESC performance and driveline architecture
  • Additional Features and Functionality
    • The evolution of control systems
    • What isn't changing (for now, anyways)
    • Brake and chassis control systems
    • Adding radar and camera-based inputs
  • Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 126
    • ESC definitional requirements
    • ESC dynamic performance test
    • Stability and responsiveness requirements
    • Industry rollout requirements
  • Learning Assessment
James Walker, Jr.
James Walker

James Walker, Jr. is currently a Principal Engineer specializing in chassis, brake, and electronic brake control systems at Carr Engineering, Inc. His prior professional experience includes brake control system development, design, release, and application engineering at Kelsey-Hayes, Saturn Corporation, General Motors, Bosch, Ford Motor Company, and Delphi.

Mr. Walker created scR motorsports consulting in 1997, and subsequently competed in seven years of SCCA Club Racing in the Showroom Stock and Improved Touring categories. Through scR motorsports, he has been actively serving as an industry advisor to Kettering University in the fields of brake system design and brake control systems. Since 2001, he has served as a brake control system consultant for StopTech, a manufacturer of high-performance racing brake systems.

In addition to providing freelance material to multiple automotive publications focusing on chassis and brake technology, Mr. Walker is the author of the book High-Performance Brake Systems: Design, Selection, and Installation. In 2005, he was presented with the SAE Forest R. McFarland Award for distinction in professional development and education and in 2010 he was designated an SAE Master Instructor. He obtained his B.S.M.E. in 1994 from GMI Engineering & Management Institute.

Duration: 2 Days
CEUs: 1.3

Format: Classroom

Event ID: 7068

Location: Troy, Michigan

Session Info:

8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Fees: $1,299.00

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