ABS warning light on: 6 causes of an illuminated ABS

Apr 02, 2019 | Same topic: Handy Maintenance Tips
Is it safe to drive with the ABS warning light on? Read the articles to find out the causes of illuminated ABS light and what you should do.

You might notice that there are different dashboard lights indicating different warnings and signals. These lights are beneficial in letting the driver know if there are problems in their vehicle. one important dashboard warning light is the ABS or anti-lock braking system.

But what does it mean if the ABS light is on? What should a driver do when this light is on? To further elaborate what the ABS light means, read on this article from Philkotse.com.

I. What is an ABS light?

The car’s ABS light is a dash warning light that comes on when there are issues with your vehicle’s anti-lock braking system. It usually has an amber color light but it can also be orange, yellow or red in some car models and applications.

Commonly, the ABS light looks exactly like the ABS letters surrounded by 2 circles, the bottom and top of the outer circle are cut off.  Other applications will show ABS letters solely.

The ABS system utilizes sensors in each wheel in monitoring their rotational speed. The car computer will monitor the signals from all the wheels and the brake pedal’s position to make sure the car is under control and stable.

ABS warning light is on

The car’s ABS light is a dash warning light that comes on when there are issues with your vehicle’s anti-lock braking system

When the computer senses lack of signal or any abnormal signals, it will illuminate the ABS warning light. This will alert the driver that there are issues in the anti-lock braking system. In addition, the ABS warning light will also illuminate when there are issues in the levels of brake fluid or blown fuse.

Some systems flash the light repeatedly before leaving it on steady. The number of flashes indicated a certain trouble code which helps the driver to further identify what the real issue is.

Referring to the car repair manual or search for information online will help you determine what the ABS system in your car is telling you.

II. Causes of illuminated ABS light

There are lots of causes why the ABS light is on. Sometimes, the issue may not directly come from the anti-lock braking system. Some problems may come from other car components or sensors that it also communicates with.

1. Low fluid reservoir

The braking fluid plays a vital role in controlling the braking pressure within the anti-lock braking system. The braking fluid reservoir holds the fluid of the anti-lock braking system. When the fluid levels drop, it can be because of a leak in the reservoir.

It can either be a leak or the presence of large amounts of air within the system. Whatever the case may be, it will certainly illuminate the ABS warning light on your dashboard.

Fluid reservoir

The braking fluid reservoir holds the fluid of the anti-lock braking system

>>> Also check out: Everything You Need To Know About Brake Fluid

2. Faulty Speed Sensor

Speed sensors are built in every wheel’s hub that calculates the rotation and movement of the wheels. This information gets transmitted to the ABS system. If the system detects that a wheel is moving differently or slowly, the ABS system increases the pressure of the braking fluid to enable the wheel to rotate and move at the normal speed.

However, if there’s an issue with the speed sensor, the ABS system will be able to detect it and it will illuminate the ABS warning light on your dashboard.

ABS Speed sensors

Speed sensors are built in every wheel’s hub that calculates the rotation and movement of the wheels

3. Bad system module

Corrosion can form in the module of the ABS system. It is the most common reason why problems arise in the anti-lock braking system. A corroded module cannot obtain information from the speed sensors of the wheels.

This results in illuminating ABS warning light. Even a small amount of corrosion is enough for this to happen. However, you still need to change the module when this happens.

>>> Read more post related to the car's brake system: 

4. Standard Bulb check

Some car models perform bulb check. This bulb check is for the convenience of every driver. It is done to check if the bulbs of the warning lights on the dashboard are working. Usually, these lights will turn off by themselves after some time.

There are instances where a glitch might happen resulting in a steady light on of the ABS warning light after the bulb check is complete.

dashboard lights on

Some car models perform bulb check. This bulb check is for the convenience of every driver

6. Worn hydraulic pump

If a car’s wheel moves differently compared to the other wheels, it will be detected by the speed sensor on the wheels. It will then signal the ABS system. When this happens, the anti-lock braking system will activate the hydraulic pump, which increases the brake fluid pressure.

This allows the wheels to maintain traction as they touch the ground. But after some years of using them, the hydraulic pumps get worn out. It will surely illuminate the ABS light that means you need to change and replace hydraulic pumps immediately.

Worn out hydraulic pump

After some years of using them, the hydraulic pumps get worn out

III. Is it safe to drive with an illuminating ABS light?

When you’re driving and suddenly, the ABS light illuminates, the best thing to do is to keep a level head. Don’t panic. Usually, it’s still safe to keep driving even when the ABS light is on.

Check if the brake pedal is still working properly, if yes, then you’ll be able to drive. Drive to the nearest repair shop. You can also check the ABS system by yourself.

ABS light stays on, what to do?

If you find yourself panicking about this situation, you’ll be pumping the brakes more causing the wheels to even lock-up. If ever this happens, it is important to know how to recover from a skid safely. If not, you’ll cause extreme damage to your car and/or you’ll suffer a great personal injury.

Your car may still continue to operate like it doesn’t have anti-lock brakes. Even so, an illuminating ABS light shouldn’t be ignored. You should have it checked as soon as possible.

Just remember that not all the time, you can still drive your car if the ABS light is on. For example, if the ABS light is on as well as the normal brake warning light, it is an indication of a more serious problem, such as loss of catastrophic fluid.

If that happens, you may feel that the brake pedal is working right when you try to slow it down or to stop it. To be safe, slowly steer the vehicle on the side of the road, in the safest place possible then call for assistance.

 >>> Click to get more helpful tips and advice for all car owners

Author

Hanna Sanchez

Hanna is one of the most competitive swimmers in the country during her day. It was not long before she discovered her passion for the automotive industry as well. Nowadays, she balances her passion through writing as well as coaching.