The ABS light is one of the many warning lights (such as the EPC light) in the dashboard of a vehicle. In this article, we explain what the ABS light is, what it means and how you can fix it.
What is the ABS light?
The ABS light indicates that there is a malfunction with the Antilock Braking System of your vehicle. The ABS is intended to ensure that no slipping or skidding will occur when the brakes are fully depressed.
The ABS sensors are located outside the wheel hub in parts such as the steering knuckle and differential housing. These sensors monitor the speed at which the wheels are turning.
There is no reason to panic, the functioning of the brakes is not affected by a non-functioning ABS system and the absence of the system will only be noticeable in emergency situations. However, do not wait too long because the ABS system makes a big difference in emergency situations and there are several other systems that rely on ABS to function (such as traction control and stability control).
Your car’s regular brakes should work fine when the ABS light is on, however, if your car has stability control and traction control, both functions will be disabled as well because they rely on the same wheel-speed sensors as the ABS system.
What does the ABS light mean?
The antilock braking system is responsible for pulsing your brakes under very specific circumstances. When the ABS light is on, this means that your wheels are in danger of locking up. The ABS system is capable of rapidly activating and deactivating individual brake calipers or wheel cylinders.
The point of rapidly pulsing the brakes is to avoid a skid because an uncontrolled skid both increases the stopping distance and may result in a total loss of directional control. In most driving conditions, this means that a functioning ABS system helps reduce stopping distance, while also helping you maintain control of your vehicle during an emergency.
What causes the ABS light to come on?
There are several reasons that cause the ABS light to come on on the dashboard of your vehicle. Here is an overview:
- Blown fuse
- Low fluid
- Standard bulb check when you start the vehicle
- Faulty unit control
- Bad wheel speed sensor
- Broken wire between the sensors and the ABS controller
- Failing pump
- Solenoid malfunctioning
How to fix
There are several things you could do to fix the ABS light when it comes on. Usually, people go to their local repair shop to have a mechanic look at it. However, you could detect the problem yourself with an OBD2 scanner.
An OBD2 scanner is the easiest and fastest way to find the problem when your ABS light appears on your dashboard. The device reads the trouble codes from your vehicle. This scanner is often used to detect problems with the EPC light of a vehicle.
If your vehicle has a separate brake fluid reservoir for the antilock braking system, you could check if the fluid level. If the fluid level is low, you can top it off yourself. Make sure you use the correct fluid.