The ABS Light - why is it on, and what should you do?
Have you ever noticed your dashboard ABS icon lit up? If you have it means there is an issue that needs to be diagnosed, ABS issues don’t need to be ignored long. The anti-lock braking system, or ABS, is an important feature on every modern car, truck, or SUV. It has been legally mandated since 2013 in the US but was standard on almost every vehicle even prior to that. Here’s what you need to know to make sure your ABS system doesn’t fail, from Monument Street Auto Center in Baltimore, MD.
What the ABS Does - Anti-lock braking does what the name promises - it prevents your brakes from locking up when you hit the brakes. When the brakes are applied constantly, there’s a threshold for how well the tires can hold to the road. If you pass that threshold, the wheels will lock up, and the vehicle will begin to slide, greatly reducing stopping power and vehicle control. ABS prevents the wheels from locking by regulating the way the brakes are applied at the wheel.
Prior to ABS, drivers would pump the brake pedal rather than pressing and holding it, to prevent the wheels from locking up. ABS essentially does the work for you, much more quickly, and with far greater precision. The vehicle in a sense “knows” where the threshold is and can pulse the brakes rapidly to whatever degree is necessary to keep the car, truck, or SUV under control.
The ABS Light - If you’ve driven long enough, you’ve more than likely seen the ABS light on the dash illuminates at some point. What this light is telling you, is that something within the ABS system has failed. There are several components necessary to keep your ABS in good working order, including wheel speed sensors, fluid level sensors, braking modules, traction control components, wiring, and more. It can be difficult to track down exactly what is wrong when the ABS light comes on. A professional technician is necessary to pinpoint and repair an ABS issue - it takes specialized knowledge and equipment to diagnose and repair the problem.
Why Is Your ABS Light On? - Common issues that may trigger your ABS light include low brake fluid, a faulty speed sensor, bad ABS module, the bulb needs to be checked, and a worn hydraulic pump. So even if the ABS light is on it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an issue the anti-lock braking system.
Is It Okay To Drive With the ABS Light On? - Drivers have a tendency to delay bringing their vehicle in when the ABS light is on - you probably won’t notice a difference in driveability, and there’s no immediate threat to damaging the vehicle in most cases. However, it’s a critical system and any problems should be corrected as soon as possible. Again you still need to be cautious if this sensor is triggered, make sure to not drive very fast in case you need to brake suddenly. Weather conditions may cause you to skid faster on the pavement. So we highly encourage you to get to a mechanic as soon as you’re able to.
Much like a seat belt, the ABS system is really only put to the test when it’s most needed and least expected. If you’re in a situation where you really have to get on the brakes, the vehicle won’t behave the way you expect it to, and won’t be capable of the stopping distance it should have. We aren’t talking about a slight difference here, either - if you’re old enough to remember how poorly vehicles from decades ago stopped, ABS is the change that defines that difference. Not to mention, today’s vehicles way a lot more.
No matter your repair or diagnostics needs, our professional technicians and diagnostic equipment have you covered. For the best auto service shop in Baltimore, MD, call or stop by Monument Street Auto Center today. We will get your vehicle back on the road and all issues are resolved before letting you pull out of the shop.
Thank you for visiting Monument Street Auto Center in Baltimore, MD. Count on our automotive repair technicians to keep your car, truck, suv, or van on the roads longer and safer.