Content of the material
- Next Step
- Schedule ABS Light is on Inspection
- Its Not Normal For Your ABS Light To Come On While Youre Driving
- Resetting Your ABS Light Without A Scan Tool Is Possible, But Its A Pain In The Butt
- What does the ABS warning light mean?
- 5 Common Reasons the ABS Light Comes On
- 1) Low Brake Fluid
- 2) Faulty Speed Sensor
- 3) Bad ABS Module
- 4) Bulb Check
- 5) Worn Hydraulic Pump
- Can You Drive Your Car With the ABS Light On?
- 2: Bad Wheel Bearing
- Four Reasons Your Anti-lock Brake System Light Can Come On
- How can we help?
Schedule ABS Light is on Inspection
The most popular service booked by readers of this article is ABS Light is on Inspection. Once the problem has been diagnosed, you will be provided with an upfront quote for the recommended fix and receive $20.00 off as a credit towards the repair. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews… LEARN MORESEE PRICING & SCHEDULING
Its Not Normal For Your ABS Light To Come On While Youre Driving
It’s when the ABS light comes on during normal driving that you should be concerened. This means that the ABS system is not working properly.
Your brakes should still work normally, but the ABS system may not engage if you need to make an emergancy stop. Ideally, you’ll want to have a mechanic take a look at your car with an OBD-II reader as soon as possible to diagnose any issues.
Resetting Your ABS Light Without A Scan Tool Is Possible, But Its A Pain In The Butt
It is possible to reset the ABS light without the use of a scanning tool. However, it’s a pain in the ass. You’re really better off spending the $20 bucks to buy an OBD-II reader. There is so much variance between how to reset the light on each car. In fact, the process can even vary in different model years of the same vehicle.
You will need a fused jumper wire or service connector to do this manually. Go through the following steps to reset:
- Find the DLC on your vehicle. If you don’t know where to find it, a quick web search will do the trick.
- Connect the two fuses on the DLC. Turn on the ignition but do not start the engine. You will see the ABS light flash.
- Press the brake pedal until you hear a click. Push it 8 times as quickly as possible.
- If successful, the ABS light will quit flashing, come back on, and then flash on about 4 times.
Seriously, just spend the $20 bucks and buy an OBD-II reader. It’s less complicated than trying to reset the light manually. It’s plug and play and as easy as can be. If my 89-year-old grandmother can use it, you can use it too.
What does the ABS warning light mean?
An ABS warning light that comes on and stays on could signal a problem with various components in and related to the anti-lock brakes. For instance, special sensors monitor the speed of the wheels. If one or more of these wheel speed sensors are inoperative or defective, the ABS warning light will remain on. The same is true if there is a problem with the wiring.
Other potential faults might be with the ABS control module, a defective power relay to the module, a solenoid valve, or the hydraulic pump in the system. The warning light can even come on if a fuse blows or if the brake fluid level is low in the brake master cylinder (or in the ABS reservoir if the vehicle is so equipped).
5 Common Reasons the ABS Light Comes On
There are many causes which could make an ABS light come on. It doesn’t always mean there is a problem with the anti-lock braking system directly. There could also be a problem with other sensors or components that it communicates with as well.
Below are the top 5 causes of an ABS light coming on.
1) Low Brake Fluid
The brake fluid has a lot to do with controlling the braking pressure within an anti-lock braking system. There is a brake fluid reservoir which holds the fluid of the anti-lock braking system.
Sometimes there could be a leak from this reservoir which will cause the fluid levels to drop. Either that or excessive amounts of air may exist within the system.
Either way, it may certainly cause the ABS warning light to illuminate on the dashboard.
2) Faulty Speed Sensor
There are speed sensors built into every wheel’s hub which calculate the movement rate of that wheel. This information then gets transmitted to the anti-lock braking system.
If it turns out that at least one of the wheels is moving too slowly, the anti-lock braking system will increase the pressure of the brake fluid to allow the wheel to move at a normal speed.
But if there is a problem with the speed sensor, the anti-lock braking system will detect that and cause the warning light to illuminate on the dashboard.
3) Bad ABS Module
The module of the anti-lock braking system can form corrosion after a while. This is actually one of the most common reasons for why there ends up being a problem with the anti-lock braking system.
If the module is corroded, then it can’t obtain information from the wheel speed sensor. As a result, the ABS light illuminates on the dashboard. It doesn’t even take a lot of corrosion to cause this to happen either. But you will need to replace the module after this happens.
4) Bulb Check
Some vehicles will perform what is known as a bulb check on the dashboard. This check is for the driver’s convenience, so they know the bulbs of their vehicle’s warning lights are working properly.
These lights will usually turn off by themselves after a certain amount of time. In some instances, there may be a glitch in the bulb check which keeps the ABS warning light illuminated after the bulb check is completed.
5) Worn Hydraulic Pump
If there is one wheel of a vehicle that moves at a different speed than the other wheels, the wheel speed sensor detects this and then notifies the anti-lock braking system.
Once this happens, the system will activate the hydraulic pump to increase the amount of brake fluid pressure. This will allow the wheels to maintain their traction as they’re touching the ground.
Unfortunately, hydraulic pumps tend to get worn out after years of using them. This would certainly cause the ABS light to come on, which means you’d need to replace the pump right away.
Can You Drive Your Car With the ABS Light On?
Just because your ABS light is on, that doesn’t mean you can’t drive your vehicle. In fact, you will still be able to step on the brake pedal and slow the vehicle down.
However, your ability to perform a panic stop will be limited as you run the risk of locking the tires under heavy braking. Locking the tires increases stopping distance dramatically and prevents you from steering until the front tires regain traction.
What you need to do is drive carefully to the nearest mechanic after the ABS light comes on. Brake slowly when necessary but avoid braking quickly or aggressively. If you can do that, then everything will be fine.
The only circumstance where you shouldn’t even attempt to drive your vehicle is if the brake system light comes on when the ABS light is on. The brake system light indicates a much bigger issue with your braking system — a problem which may limit your ability to brake the vehicle at all. Therefore, you would need your vehicle towed to the mechanic if you notice both lights on.
2: Bad Wheel Bearing
A wheel bearing isn’t often considered an ABS component, but it directly involves it and if failed, will throw the system into error mode. If a wheel bearing is significantly worn to the point where the wheel can wobble about its axis, more than likely an ABS speed sensor code will be stored. Why?
Tone rings (or reluctor rings depending on the vehicle) are often mounted to the axle shaft of front-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles. If the wheel speed sensor is mounted on the vehicle’s hub, it is spaced a specific distance away from the spinning ring on the axle. When the wheel bearing has failed catastrophically, the axle and therefore the ring will wobble around, altering this specification and causing the speed sensor to exhibit brief periods of no signal. In extreme cases, the axle can come in contact with the wheel speed sensor, effectively damaging it beyond usability.
Four Reasons Your Anti-lock Brake System Light Can Come On
An ABS indicator light on your dash is a sign that something may have gone wrong with your system and you need to get it checked out. The four common reasons that typically cause this light to turn on include a malfunctioning ABS module, low levels in the fluid reservoir, broken wheel speed sensors, or the system is turned off.
Malfunctioning ABS ModuleYour ABS actually shares some important components with another system in your vehicle: your traction control system. Traction control is a system designed to keep all four wheels on the ground rolling smoothly. If it detects that one wheel starts to spin irregularly, it will cut off power from your engine until it establishes stable traction again. This is designed to prevent you from skidding out of control by accidentally applying too much power. However, because both your ABS and traction control share a control module and self-diagnostic system, one can sometimes interfere with another. Sometimes an issue with your traction control light can cause your ABS light to come on as well, but other times the issue is with your ABS system. You’ll need to have your vehicle professionally diagnosed to figure out exactly what’s going on.
Low Levels in the Fluid ReservoirYour brake system is hydraulic, which means it uses the power of a cylinder pressing against a fluid to close your brake pads and bring your car to a stop. This means you need a consistent, constant level of fluid in your brake system. However, if there’s a slow leak or the fluid is able to evaporate off, then the amount of fluid will drop and your brakes won’t be able to operate properly. Your computer can usually detect this with sensors, and will turn the ABS light on if it finds it.
Broken Wheel Speed SensorsWheel speed sensors are a piece of equipment that tells your computer how fast each wheel is turning independently. If the computer detects an anomaly in these speeds, then your traction control system makes adjustments or shifts power to different wheels to compensate. However, if a speed sensor is dirty or stops working, then it can’t relay this information accurately. Rather than make a load of adjustments, it will usually disable your ABS and/or traction control systems until you either restart your vehicle or the problem gets resolved.
Your System is Turned OffIt may come as a surprise, but you actually may have the option to turn your traction control or ABS on and off. When you turn the system off, it will usually turn on the indicator light on your dash to warn you that this important safety feature isn’t working. If just your traction control or ABS light is on, then there’s a strong chance your system may have accidentally turned off. Check to see if you may have accidentally bump the switch, and consult your owner’s manual if you’re not sure where it is.
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