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ABS Light on The Dashboard : Purpose, Diagnose & How to Drive

ABS stand for the Antilock Braking System. The job of this system is to make sure that the tires are in contact with the surface of the road when you are applying the brakes of the car.

Without the ABS doing its work, your car or your vehicle will have trouble stopping when the brake is applied; it might even skid the car. Its main job is to maintain control over the vehicle when driving on slippery surfaces.

What is the purpose of the ABS light turning on?

What is the purpose of the ABS light turning on
Purpose of ABS turned on

The ABS light on your dashboard serves as a warning signal to the driver, much like the check engine light. If the ABS light has turned on, it means that there is some issue with the ABS of the system.

Here are some things that you need to know about the ABS:

Firstly, Every time the vehicle is turned on, ABS automatically does a self-test to make sure that everything is working fine.

So, the light briefly turns on with the ignition of the car, and if you notice it turned on right then, it is perfectly normal to do so. However, if the light stays on, it means that there is some problem with it.

Secondly, On the other hand, if the light turns on while you are driving the car, it means that there is some problem with the vehicle’s ABS and that you need to get the problem diagnosed.

ABS light turns on while you are driving the car
ABS blinking

Now ABS is designed only to assist the braking system of the vehicle and not to stop the car on its own. Therefore, your vehicle is still safe to drive, but you must get it diagnosed, as you don’t know when you might need the ABS to stop the car in case of an emergency.

Thirdly, Now the third case is when both the ABS and the braking system light turn on. Now both the braking systems of your car have failed, and continuing to drive will put your life and those driving close to your life’s at risk.

In this scenario, if you press the brakes heavily, you might notice pulsating in the pedal of the brake.

This implies that the ABS is still doing its job, but you need to keep the steering in control while keeping your foot pressed tightly on the brake.

Read Also: How to Fix ABS Light

How to diagnose and fix the problem with the ABS?

How to diagnose and fix the problem of ABS
ABS problem diagnosis

Now once you know that the problem with your system is serious and it needs to be dealt with, what you need to do is stop your car on a roadside.

Make sure there is space around you, and it’s not too cramped as you might have to set up a jack and remove a tire, etc.

Pull your car to a corner with the transmission in park, apply the emergency brake, and turn off the engine. There are two ways of diagnosing and fixing the problem. One is with a scanner, and one is manual.

With a scanner:

You can use a scanner or a code reader to read and interpret the codes on the ABS. These scanners are affordable and only cost $40 – $50 on Amazon.

Once the problem has been diagnosed, all you have to do is fix it. You can repair or replace the part that is causing the problem, for that you will have to take your car to a garage.

Check the ABS fuse if it’s working or not:

ABS is an electrical component of the car and, therefore, comes with a fuse. If, for instance, there is an electrical surge or any kind, the fuse might blow. This leads to the ABS light turning on.

To check the ABS fuse, you need to know where it is located. You will find the fuse in the fuse panel that is located under the dashboard or in the power distribution panel that is under the hood of the car.

If the fuse is blown, replacing it should turn the light off and fix the problem.

1. Check the wheel sensor; it might be faulty:

Check the wheel sensor, it might be faulty
Faulty wheel sensor

ABS also monitor the speed of the rotation of the wheel via the help of a wheel sensor.

If the sensor stops working due to some reasons, which it does when it is subjected to bad road conditions or high vibrations, etc., then it may lead to the ABS light turning on.

To know for sure that the wheel sensor is causing the light to flicker you can check for the following codes on the scanner, C00_ _ (35, 40, 41, 45, 46, 50, 51) or C12 _ _ (21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 32, 33, 34, 35).

To fix it, you can replace the wheel sensor that is attached to the bearing hub or the axle brake rotor.

Read Also: How to Use The OBD2 Scanner

2. Fault in the stator ring:

Fault in the stator ring
Stator ring

Now, it could be that the problem is in the stator ring of the wheel. That is, it has dislocated. It might lead the ABS to believe that the wheel is not working and rotating properly.

In such a case, the light will turn on. First, you need to check the ring for any sort of damage or dislocation, and if you find any, you need to replace it or bring it back to its original position.

3. Fault in the Computer Module of the ABS

It could be that the computer module of the ABS is causing the light to turn on. As you know, ABS monitors the speed of the rotation of the wheel. It is an electronic component which may stop working due to short-circuiting etc.

In order to be able to tell if it’s the computer module, you might notice a low humming noise coming from within the system.

The computer module is attached to 5 mounting bolts on the pump motor. If you see any burned coil, then know that the module needs to be replaced for you to fix the light and turn it off.

4. Not enough Hydraulic Pressure:

Another possible reason for this could be that the fluid in the brake system is really low. The fluid or the oil that you add in the brake is what applies the pressure on the tires that stops them.

If the fluid isn’t enough, then the pressure would be too low, and you will even notice that the brakes take longer to halt the car than they normally do.

It could also be that the fluid in the two sides is different, which could also be the cause of the ABS light being turned on.

For the former one, you can check it by applying brakes and see if they are working or not, and as for the latter one, you might notice a slight skid to one side when the brakes are applied.

To fix this problem, you need to fill up the brake fluid to its marked level. This could be really dangerous, as your brakes might fail and can result in an accident. Therefore, it should be fixed as soon as possible.

Read Also: How to Reset TPMS Warning Light at Home

5. Emergency brake not applied properly:

It could be that when you started you drive the car, you did not properly pull the emergency brake, and it might be stuck. This could also be a cause for turning on the ABS light as even though the emergency brakes work differently than the hydraulic ones, it can still be used to stop the car if hydraulic brakes fail to.

So, make sure that the emergency brakes are properly released, or you can apply and release them once again just to be sure.

Whether or not to drive the vehicle of the ABS light is turned on or flickering:

ABS light is turned on or flickering
Monitoring ABS light

An ABS light is merely a warning sign that pops up and flickers when it senses a problem in the ABS system.

Now, in most of the cases, it is considered perfectly safe to drive around with the ABS light turned on. Just make sure that the brake pedal is working fine, and when you apply the brakes, you can sense the car stops.

However, on the other hand, if you sense that there might be an issue with the brakes like they aren’t responding to you the way they normally do or should be, then it is wise to take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible.

Supposedly, the ABS light, as well as the brake pedal light is turned on it means that the brakes of the car have failed. Now it will be totally unsafe for you to drive your car.

Final Thoughts

Now whatever the issue may be, you need to understand that ABS light is specifically designed to warn a driver when there is an issue with the brakes, the steering control or the ABS, all of which are extremely vital components when it comes to your safety. So it is advisable to get it checked as soon as possible.