What Is Stab Braking and How to Do It? Explained

The stab braking method is excellent for applying emergency brakes while allowing your vehicle to move freely. The technique is mainly used with older generations of cars. At the same time, modern vehicles have adopted the Anti Lock Brakes System (ABS), an intuitive way of applying stab braking without going through all the processes.

Although the stab braking method is mainly used in older model cars, it can still be applicable in modern vehicles. However, we only recommend it when the ABS fails to activate. It is because the ABS uses sensors, which are prone to get damaged like other electrical components of the car.

Knowing how the stab braking method works may be an essential survival skill when the ABS fails.

Here is a detailed guide on the meaning of stab braking, how to use the method, safety concerns, and answers to frequently asked questions.

What Is Stab Braking?

Stab braking allows drivers to lock the wheel of their vehicle whenever they brake hard. This braking method is used with cars that do not have the ABS feature or have it deactivated.

It could be dangerous whenever you speed and hit the brake hard, as it is nearly impossible to steer safely into position by yourself. It is when the stab braking technique comes to play.

driver performing stab braking

Typically the ABS performs this function, and it does this by helping your vehicle restore traction while also preventing the wheels from locking up. As a result, you can maneuver the car to whatever position you want to avoid a possible crash. 

However, older vehicles do not have ABS. This is when the stab braking technique could come in handy, and this is how to do it. You must hit the brakes as hard as possible whenever your vehicle loses traction. If the wheels lock up, you must release the brakes, free up the wheels, and then reapply them fully. It should take 1 second for the wheels to be free after releasing the brakes.

When Should You Use Stab Braking?

Just like the ABS, this technique can only be used in specific areas or situations. For example, the stab braking method should be used when driving on low-traction roads or are about to hit an object. 

When driving on a low-traction road, like in a rainy, muddy, or snowy environment, there is a high possibility that your vehicle could slip out of control. At this point, it is hard to control your car or maneuver back into position. The usual thing to do is either hit the brakes too suddenly or too hard, which causes the wheels to lock instantly. 

When the wheels lock under challenging situations, it is nearly impossible for drivers to maneuver out of danger, and they end up losing control of the car. Now, this is where the stab braking system comes in. Once the brake is released and pressed, you can steer the wheels while the brakes are still working.    

Also, you can use the stab braking method when cornering. However, this can be dangerous when not used properly or when used by someone inexperienced. One thing to keep in mind if you use the stab braking technique when cornering is that it must be done before you corner the vehicle. This way, the vehicle’s speed will have reduced drastically, and you can easily steer the car out of danger. 

In addition, the stabbing braking method can also be helpful when you lose control of the vehicle when driving downhill. However, you will have to combine the technique with pre-corner braking. Lastly, this braking technique will help prevent your brakes from wearing out prematurely. 

When Should You Not Use Stab Braking?

Knowing when not to use the stab braking method is as important as knowing when is the right time to use it.

One of these situations when you should not use stab braking, is when cornering. Many drivers reported that their vehicles, especially SUVs and Trucks, tumbled when using the stab braking when cornering. 

When you find yourself in a situation where you are speeding and you suddenly encounter a cornered road, you should use the stabbing process before cornering and not when you are cornering. 

Also, avoid using this technique if your vehicle is equipped with ABS. The ABS does the same thing, except that is done automatically by the vehicle, while the method discussed requires some effort from the driver. If you use any other braking method with the ABS, you can use the controlled braking method. All you have to do is release the brakes slightly for easy maneuvering. 

Related content: How does the ABS modulator work?

Is Stab Braking Safe To Use?

Stab braking is safe and relatively easy to use if you know how to use it. The problem with this braking method is that drivers don’t understand how it works and tend to misuse it, resulting in a loss of vehicle control.

We recommend understanding how it works and when and when not to use it before attempting it. For instance, people have run into trouble using the stab braking when cornering. It is not because the technique is not suitable for cornering but because they need to learn how to use it when cornering. 

When speeding during cornering, braking is not a good idea, especially when driving an SUV or Truck.  

However, the stab braking technique can still help you; significantly when you are speeding and are about to hit a corner. All you need to do is hit and release the brake pedal before you enter the intersection. In this way, your vehicle’s speed would reduce significantly before cornering, allowing you to maintain control of the steering when entering the corner.

Also, people need to learn that they are not supposed to pump the brakes when performing stab braking. When doing this process, you are meant to hit the break, release, hit again, and then hold down. Continuously pumping the brake will prevent the technique from working as intended. 

Once you can keep calm and do what you are supposed to, you will have no problem using this braking method. 

What Is The Difference Between Controlled Braking And Stab Braking?

The stab braking and controlled braking method achieve the same result, but the difference is in how they achieve it. You can use the controlled braking method by braking hard, but in this case, if you want to have control of the wheel or need to steer, you will have to release the brake pedal a little, steer the wheels, and then hit the brakes again. 

On the other hand, the stab braking technique requires that you hit the brakes entirely, then release the brake, and hit again for the wheels to be released. 

Therefore, it allows for better maneuvering when driving, better than controlled braking because you do not need to release the brakes to turn the wheels. 

The controlled braking method is mainly used to keep the vehicle straight, and it is not recommended when steering the wheels. People often opt for the stab braking method when turning their cars. 

Can You Stab Brake With ABS?

Using the stab braking method is unnecessary when your vehicle comes with ABS. The ABS already serves as an automatic stabbing method, so you do not need to go through all the stress of hitting the brake pedal, releasing and hitting it again. With the ABS, you only have to hit the brake once and hold down, and the wheels will automatically be free to move. 

The ABS function uses sensors that immediately sense when the wheel is about to lock whenever you suddenly hit the brake. It will then directly bring down and increase the pressure from the brakes. By doing this, the system can quickly increase and reduce brake pressure as often as possible while using the optimum pressure needed. While carrying out the process, the wheel can move freely. 

What Is The First Maneuver In Stab Braking?

To apply the stab brake for an emergency stop, you must first use the brakes and hold the brakes down until the wheels are completely locked. After doing this, you can release the brakes, and you will notice that the wheels are free to spin. Next, apply the brakes about halfway and ensure the wheels are free.

Once you have completed the process up to this level, you can fully apply the brakes. Your vehicle wheel will then lock again, allowing your vehicle to move on a straight path, but by this time, your vehicle’s speed will have decreased. So keep holding down the brake pedal until the car completely stops. 


It would be best if you had the proper knowledge about stab braking and how it functions before attempting to use it. Although the technique is relatively easy and seems straightforward, it could be challenging to apply in specific scenarios, like driving downhill or cornering.

Also, ensure that you do not use stab braking if your car is equipped with ABS; it is highly unnecessary and could make the ABS less effective. It would be best only to release the brake pedal when the wheels are still locked.