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What Does Service Brake Assist Mean?


Service brake assist indicates that your car’s brake assist system needs attention. You have to check whether that emergency braking feature is working fine.

Brake assist is one of the safety features in modern cars. It helps you quickly and safely stop your car’s movement. But if you are getting the indication of “Service Brake Assist” on your car’s dashboard, you should know what does service brake assist mean and how to fix that.

This post will give you a detailed insight into the brake assist system in your car. Therefore, let’s begin with the brake assist system and how it works.

Brake Assist System

First of all, if you have heard that brake assist automatically pulls your car’s brakes, that’s a myth.

The automatic braking system is a whole different thing than brake assist. We’ll cover that too.

As its name suggests, this system assists in pulling the brakes of your car. Therefore, the brake assist feature only works when you manually pull the brakes in an automobile equipped with this system.

In 1996, the automobile giants realized a problem that when the drivers pulled the brakes in a panic situation, they couldn’t completely press the brakes.

Result? Collisions, accidents, injuries, and deaths.


Therefore, it was Mercedes-Benz, in collaboration with an auto parts supplier LucasVarity who invented the brake assist system.

The Mercedes-Benz S & SL Class models used this system to assist the driver in stopping their cars more efficiently.

Now, if you think that the brake assist system and the anti-lock braking system (ABS) are the same things, they are not.

Of course, both features help you avoid collisions and quickly stop your car in an emergency situation. But the working of these features is slightly different.

Anti-Lock Braking System vs. Brake Assist

An anti-lock braking system or ABS lets you keep a firm grip on your car’s wheels. Generally, this system helps you when you have to pull the brakes in an emergency situation or take a sharp turn.

Moreover, ABS keeps the wheels of your car rotating even when you pull the brakes. Why?

That keeps the wheels’ traction intact, and the chances of your car sliding and slamming into an obstacle get reduced.

Therefore, ABS and brake assist systems work in parallel.

When you pull the brakes, the brake assist is activated, and ABS will join your car stopping mission by controlling the rotation of the wheels.

How Does Brake Assist Work

There are two types of brake assist in vehicles:

  • Mechanical Brake Assist
  • Electronic Brake Assist

The development in the automobile industry keeps on bringing technological advancement and getting rid of mechanical processes.

It’s because the mechanical features of a car are old, need frequent maintenance, are costly, and prone to get frail. Therefore, a lot of modern car manufacturers focus on producing electronic vehicle systems with cutting-edge technology.

However, we’ll cover both types of brake assist systems.

Mechanical Brake Assist System

Earlier, car manufacturers used to install only the mechanical brake assist system. The reason was obvious: no technological advancement in the automobile industry.

Therefore, there are no electronic sensors to detect the brake pressure in the mechanical brake assist system.

Now, the mechanical brake assist works on two factors:

  • Braking Pressure
  • Braking Speed

These two factors combine and decide whether to activate brake assist or not.

Suppose you have to pull the brakes in an emergency. Now, the braking pressure must reach a point to activate brake assist. You can call it the brake assist threshold.

If you reach the threshold while pulling the brakes, all the brake pressure and speed are directed to the brake assist system. As a result, the normal piston of your car’s brakes will not receive any pressure. Instead, the mechanical brake assist system will support your car’s brakes.

Besides, if your car is of a 2004 or later model, it might not have the mechanical brake assist system. Instead, if your car’s manufacturer has installed the brake assist feature, that’s the electronic one.

Electronic Brake Assist System (EBA)

The electronic brake assist system or EBA continuously keeps an eye on your brake pedal’s movement. Once you press the brake pedal, EBA waits to reach a threshold to assist your car brakes.

Once you reach that threshold, EBA overrides the car stopping phenomenon and boosts the braking to trigger the ABS. That way, your car stops faster with fewer chances of skidding on the road.

Moreover, you have to keep in mind that EBA only works when you pull your car’s brakes. The brake assist system will not work until you push the brake pedal of your vehicle.

If EBA detects that there’s an emergency situation, it will assist your car’s brakes.

Besides, some car manufacturers are using the adaptive brake assist feature. What’s that?

Adaptive Brake Assist

The adaptive brake assist feature is an advanced version that memorizes the braking behavior of drivers.

Suppose your nature to pull your car’s brakes is slow. You are a calm person and always stop your car calmly.

The adaptive EBA will record your brake pulling behavior. Now, if you ever pull the brakes abruptly, EBA will sense that it’s an emergency and will assist your car’s brakes. Even though there wasn’t an emergency situation, still, adaptive EBA identified that as one and fulfilled its duty.

Also, that’s one of the reasons when you drive different cars and feel the difference while pulling the brakes. It’s not that your colleague’s car’s brakes are faulty. It’s the adaptive brake assist system that’s making you feel the difference.

Check out the Tekonsha Electronic Brake Control if you are looking to buy one.

Active Brake Assist

Since there is no stopping in automobile’s safety features development, the active brake assists the most advanced version of EBA. Again, Mercedes-Benz launched this super-amazing safety feature in its E-Class cars.

The active brake assist works with EBA. This system uses the ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) radar sensor to detect what’s coming ahead.

Moreover, you will get an audio and visual warning if you are driving the modern Mercedes-Benz E-Class vehicle.

Once you get the warnings, the active brake assist will not work until you manually press the brake pedal. So the basic working of the system is the same.

However, once you decide to react to the warning and press the pedal, the active brake assist will boost the braking activity milliseconds before the first impact. On top of that, the active brake assist applies light pressure on the brake hydraulics that you won’t even notice. It prepares your car to suddenly stop in case of emergency.

Once you reach a certain threshold, an active brake assist will trigger ABS and will try to stop your car from big damage.

Now, you have understood how the brake assist system of your car works.

However, a lot of automobile experts do not count on the car’s brake-assist feature. Do you know why?

Let’s find out.

Why Do Some Car Manufacturers Avoid Installing Brake Assist?

Car’s Original Brakes

As you have seen that the brake assist system helps your car to stop faster, some automobile industry giants depend on their own cars’ brakes. This is because they believe that the original brakes installed in a car are enough to avoid any collision.

Therefore, they don’t install any brake assist system, either mechanical or electronic, in their manufactured vehicles.

The original brakes of their cars are easy to press, and drivers don’t have any difficulty pressing the brake pedal even in a panic situation.


Cost Reduction

The brake assist in a car is an additional safety feature. But, in case you don’t know, there are a lot of vehicles out there having no brake assist system.

It’s because car manufacturers want to reduce the cost without compromising the car’s safety. Therefore, these companies make sure that the original brakes of the car must be smooth enough to save one from any misfortune.

Now, a few manufacturers didn’t install the brake system in their cars, even though the drivers complain about the car’s original brakes.

Sometimes the brake pedal is hard to press, even in the newer car models.

If the brake pedal is hard to press in normal conditions, think about what happens if you need to press the brake pedal in an emergency.

You never know when an emergency will occur. These are the moments when you have no idea whether you pressed the brakes or not.

Therefore, the brake assist feature helps you activate ABS and saves you from accidents in such situations.

Service Brake Assist

The service brake assist warning implies that your car’s EBA is not working properly. Therefore, it’s better to quickly fix the issue by going to the nearest automobile service station.

If your car has the brake assist system installed, its deployment must be electronic. However, you can check that by contacting your car’s manufacturer or reaching out to their online customer support.

Now, it’s common for electronic devices to usually misbehave even when a minor issue pops up. That’s right.

Just like that, EBA also works electronically. The electronic circuit board of EBA uses microchips and sensors to gauge and detect the applied force on the brake pedal. Moreover, adaptive EBA realizes when to override braking activity on a specific brake threshold.

Now, there are times when the sensor malfunctions due to various reasons. Some of the common sensor failure reasons are:

When any of the above faults occur, EBA indicates service brake assist. You will see one of the lights glowing on your car’s dashboard. Additionally, there are other lights as well that represent other general and emergency features like:

  • ABS
  • Fuel
  • Seatbelt
  • Traction Control
  • Battery Check
  • Temperature Control

How to Fix Service Brake Assist?

If your car is displaying the service brake assist warning, you should take action to solve that. First, however, it’s better to consult with an automobile engineer who has sound knowledge about modern electronic car systems.

If you think that the EBA sensor has failed, you might have to replace that.

Moreover, you can buy and replace a new EBA sensor on your own and save money.

Check out Reese Towpower Brake Control to digitally enhance the brakes of your vehicle.



Can I Drive While the Service Brake Assist & ABS Light is ON?

It’s better if you fix the problem with your electronic brake assist system and anti-lock braking system. However, you can drive your car with the warning illuminating from your car’s dashboard.

But if you are planning to go on a long by-road journey, make sure that you fix all the general and emergency features of your car, including EBA and ABS.

How to Disable the Brake Assist System?

The automobile experts discourage disabling the brake assist feature. First, it’s dangerous as you eliminate one of the emergency systems from your car.

Second, disabling EBA will give rise to many other car issues.

That’s why most car manufacturers don’t allow the brake assist system to be disabled.

However, if you really want to go for that, you have to remove the brake assist fuse from your car. Some of the cars give you that option.

Can I Install Brake Assist Separately?

Yes. You can install brake assist if your car doesn’t have that system built-in. However, you have to go to an automobile service station. They might charge you $325-$1250 (price varies from vehicle to vehicle) for the complete installation.

Final Words

Like any other in-car security feature, brake assist also makes sure that you travel safely. If you see the service brake assist sign on your dashboard, go to the automobile service station and fix that issue.

Moreover, this system boosts the performance of your brakes in terms of how quickly your car stops. Most modern cars are equipped with the electronic brake assist (EBA) system that activates the anti-lock braking system (ABS) in emergencies.

Therefore, always check out the car’s security indications and fix them before hitting the road.

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