What to Do If Your ABS Warning Light Comes on

Posted on: 14 February 2017

Anti-lock braking systems are one of the most innovative developments in the world of motoring from the last decade or so and originated in the testbed of motorsport. They can be highly beneficial to the average daily driver, as they can help you to stop the car in an emergency.

The ABS system relies on a series of sensors, which detect how each wheel is turning in relation to the road surface beneath. If one or more of the wheels is in danger of locking up under braking, the ABS system will help to avoid that. It will send a signal to the affected wheel, which will then turn the braking motion on and off in rapid succession so that the wheel regains traction. Remember that a wheel that does not actively connect with the road surface, but is just static and sliding on the surface, does not produce any braking and decelerating action.

If you notice that the ABS warning light is illuminated on your dashboard, what do you need to know?

Is the Brake Fluid Okay?

The first think you need to do if you notice that the warning light is on, is to have a look to see if there is enough fluid in the reservoir. If it needs to be topped up, always make sure that you do so with the correct brake fluid with a high boiling point. Your manufacturer's manual will tell you which one to use.

Check the Connections

You should also check to see that the ABS control unit is still hooked up properly and that the connections surrounding it are free from any corrosion or contamination. Once again, you can find where this unit is located from your owner's manual.

Look at the Speed Sensors

Next, have a look at the wheel speed spent sensors which are attached to each wheel. Turn your steering all the way to the right and you will be able to look at the rear of the right front wheel to see if the sensor is okay. Once again, if there is contaminants and road muck surrounding the sensor, clean it away. Do the same for the left wheel and then have a look at the rears. You may have to jack the car up in order to gain access there.

What to Do Next

If all of these checks seem to be okay, then it's likely that you need car servicing and a full diagnostic review by your mechanic. Speciality tools are needed to check the operation of the speed sensors on each wheel and the mechanic will also be able to plug in a diagnostic computer to get specific 'trouble codes' for further action.