If you are planning to buy a car or already have one, you should have knowledge of the functions of every part of the car to ensure your safety while driving. One of those parts is ABS also known as Anti-lock Braking System.
What does ABS do?
ABS (Antilock braking system) is represented by the Abs icon on the dashboard of a vehicle. Abs prevents the wheels from locking up during any emergency situation or when the road is slippery or wet. It wards off uncontrollable skids hence smoothing down the traction control with road surfaces. It is an automated system so you don’t have to operate it manually. If you feel the brake pedal pulsating while you brake heavily, that means your ABS is working fine and you are good to go.
What does abs light mean?
The abs controller powers on to self-test every single time you turn on the ignition, which means the abs light will always turn on along with other lights on the dashboard. However, they should turn off eventually after some time. If your abs light keeps on glowing that means something is wrong with the braking system and you should inspect your vehicle immediately. A malfunctioning system can have worse consequences than just lock-ups. It may disable other features of your car and pulse your brakes when you don’t need to. It is not recommended to travel far distances with abs light on.
Common causes for Abs Light Alert:
There are many parts integrated into the abs, therefore, many parts that could fail and cause the abs symbol to lighten up. Some of the main causes that result in abs light alert are:
- Corroded ABS module
- Precarious wheel speed sensor
- Defective or blown fuse
- Decayed hydraulic valve/pump
- Low brake fluid reservoir
- Irregularity in bulb
- Faulty brake pads
Let’s take a detailed look at all the causes mentioned above to have a clear understanding of the errors.
1. Corroded ABS module:
Abs module runs diagnostic test checks on the system and processes information from wheel speed sensors and hydraulic brake to figure out when to release braking pressure at a wheel to keep its movement align with the other before they lock up and glide.
Sometimes the abs module gets deteriorates which results in an increase of resistance in the wires. This corrosion delays or oftentimes completely halt the communication between the module, wheel speed sensor, and hydraulic brake. A trivial amount of corrosion will illuminate the ABS light on your dashboard.
2. Precarious wheel speed sensor:
Wheel speed sensors often called ABS sensors are located near the brake rotors. They are mounted on the axles of ABS vehicles. They determine the number of wheel rotations or you can call it RPM (rotation per minute). These sensors then send the information to the ABS module. When the ABS senses any irregularity in the movement of wheels or if one wheel moves slower than the other one, the system will increase the pressure of brake fluid. It is done to balance out the movement of both wheels to avoid them from skidding and locking up.
Sometimes extreme thermal conditions and heat from the brakes damage the sensor and make the ABS light pop up on the dashboard.
3. Defective or blown fuse:
The ABS relay or fuse is responsible for supplying the power to the ABS pump. Sometimes, due to a short circuit or an electric surge, the fuse blows up leading to an ABS light alert on your dashboard. The fuse can also blow up due to its age. Short circuits can occur due to problems in the ABS pump motor.
4. Decayed hydraulic pump/ valve:
After receiving information from the wheel speed sensor, ABS directs the flow of liquid medium most usually oil through the hydraulic system. The hydraulic system works only by using hydraulic valves.
Hydraulic pump/valve can depreciate over time causing hindrance in supplying the oil to the braking system. The ABS detects this contortion and illuminates the ABS light.
5. Low brake fluid reservoir:
ABS uses the hydraulic fluid to control the pressure on the wheels. This fluid is incompressible. When the driver applies the brake with little force, it creates huge chunks of energy that flow with the braking system and slow down the vehicle as desired by the driver.
The ABS keeps track of the fluid level. Once it drops by a certain level, it reports it to the module illuminating the light.
The fluid in the reservoir can drop due to various reasons.
- It can evaporate.
- Excess air can enter the system
- There might be a fluid leakage.
You can easily point out leakage as they are air-sealed cylinders and leakage is prominent.
6. Irregularity in #bulb:
Upon starting your vehicle, all the lights illuminate once, and then after some time, they turn off automatically. This shows that all your warning lights are working perfectly. However, if the light bulb of your vehicle is not turning off by itself, this indicates that there’s a glitch in your system and you should get it fixed as soon as possible so you can monitor your vehicles’ performance.
7. Faulty brake pads:
One more cause of illuminated ABS light is faulty brake pads. Going through the wear and tear of time, brake pads become faulty and do not work properly when brakes are applied. This eventuates in the pop-up of ABS light on the dashboard.
How to reset the ABS light?
Nowadays drivers use OBD2 scanners to point out the issue of the braking system. But if you don’t have a scanner you can follow these steps to reset your ABS light.
- Examine the emergency brake: When brakes fail to go down far enough to be applied, the ABS light might pop up. Keep readjusting the brakes until the light goes off.
- Replace the Fluid oil: Sometimes the fluid loses its incompressible characteristics and air bubbles form in it. Pour out the old oil and clean the reservoir thoroughly before putting the new fluid in it. Make sure to avoid the new fluid oil from air contact as it will contaminate the oil which could destroy the system. Always buy fluid from quality manufactures and never mix old oil and new oil.
- Replace the ABS Fuse: In case of a short circuit, replace the old fuse with the new one having the same amperage to avoid any impairment. Replacing the fuse will turn off the ABS light.
- Inspect and supersede the Wheel Speed Sensor: Connect a voltmeter with the speed sensor and spin the wheel to generate voltage. The sensor should detect the speed of the spinning of the wheel. If the sensor isn’t recording any voltage, it means that the sensor is faulty and needs to be replaced. Metal particles stuck in the sensor can impede the readings so don’t forget to clean the sensor before recording. Also, check for any missing teeth in the stator ring or ABS reluctor. In case of an open circuit, repair the broken wire and it will turn off the ABS light.
- Replace the ABS Control Module: You can replace your ABS control module with the new one. Make sure that both of the modules are the same and the replaced unit sits right onto the pump/valve assembly and fits the electrical Connectors. Tighten the bolts squarely before putting the module to work.
A shortcut method to reset ABS light:
ABS light shows that something is defective in the system. You can however turn the abs light off with these simple steps but this is not the permanent solution for the errors. It will just overshadow the errors and they’ll appear again after a while. It is necessary that you go through all the procedures that are mentioned above and if the light still doesn’t go out then use this method. Here is a simple 3 steps method that works:
- Turn the key on in your car but don’t start the engine. You’ll see the dashboard icons illuminate.
- The second step is to press the gas pedals three times. Wait for a little while.
- Turn the engine on.
This three-step method will turn the ABS sign off. You can take your car on the test drive and accelerate it at above 15mph and you’ll see that light will turn off on its own. During the process, the computer gathers the data and verifies that all the components tied to the braking system are working fine.
Don’t do it unless you’ve fixed the underlying issue. Forcefully fixing the abs light without solving the actual problem can eventuate in major problems in the long run.
- Loosen and remove the negative battery terminal from your car and then remove the positive terminal.
- Connect the two cables and attach them using alligator clips.
- Leave them for 25 minutes and make sure they don’t touch the battery terminal.
- Attach the positive terminal first and then the negative terminal back.
- Turn on your engine and the light should be turned off.
I hope you now have a better understanding of fixing the ABS light without a scanning tool.