Driving a car is not just about accelerating, braking is also an important aspect. And when it comes to braking, your car’s ABS brakes are the hero.
The anti-lock braking system is widely found on vehicles today and helps you slow down your car without locking up the wheels. This translates into fewer accidents and quicker stops.
However, ABS brakes work under a system, where the ABS sensors send information to the car’s computer, and the computer makes a decision to activate the ABS function.
These special sensors are located near the wheels and consist of two vital parts: the tone ring and the magnetic sensor. Both parts work together to ensure the efficient functionality of the ABS. However, these components are subject to wear and tear and their performance can deteriorate over time.
If any of these components are not working, you may have a big problem, but luckily for you, there are ways to detect their failure. Every car is different, so while some symptoms may show up in your car, they won’t in other cars. Check out the ABS sensor failure symptoms below and expand your knowledge.
Signs of an ABS sensor is damaged or has faults
All the symptoms will do is help you diagnose a faulty ABS sensor. At the end of the day, you would have to find a solution yourself or schedule a visit to the nearest garage.
1. ABS light illuminates
This is the most common symptom when it comes to ABS sensors. When there is even the slightest problem with the ABS sensor, your car’s on-board computer will detect the malfunction and turn on the ABS light .
This light is similar to check engine light which lights up on the dashboard of your car when there is an engine related fault. Naturally, if this light is flashing, you should think about visiting your mechanic as soon as possible, or reading the fault codes at home. The longer the ABS sensor problem persists, the more prone you are to accidents. You can find a suitable OBD2 scanner to read the codes here:
2. The vehicle will take longer to stop
The ABS system is positioned to help stop your car faster. It only comes into play when you hit the brakes hard enough. Therefore, any ABS sensor failure will not activate the ABS system in time and you will find that your car takes longer than usual to stop. You may also feel your car skid and lose traction when you brake hard.
3. Pumping the brake pedal when braking
If an ABS sensor sends a faulty signal, you may experience pumping in the brake pedal when braking. This is because the sensor makes the brake control unit think that the car is skidding, but it is not.
4. Vulnerability on wet roads
ABS sensors transmit valuable information to the ABS system that allows it to maintain your car’s stability and traction on less grippy surfaces. Wet and icy roads are the biggest enemy of your brakes and your ABS system is probably the only shield against loss of traction besides the use of winter tires.
Therefore, if you feel that you are losing control when braking on wet roads, it shows that your car’s ABS sensors are not in optimal condition. However, it could be the module that is not working correctly. To find out, you will need to visit a mechanic and request a check-up.
What is an ABS sensor?
The primary function of the ABS speed sensor is to monitor, record, and transmit information about how the tires are spinning. If there is slippage between the wheels of your vehicle, the ABS sensor will quickly alert the ABS system. The message is generated from the difference detected by the ABS sensor and transmitted to the ABS control unit. As a result, the ABS will activate and override the manual braking of your vehicle.
Basically, the ABS speed sensor consists of a magnetic sensor that performs the main function. According to the induction principle, when the tone ring grooves pass from within the magnetic lines of forces of the magnetic sensor present in the ABS sensor, a voltage will be induced. This voltage generates a signal to the ABS control system. Although this is the most common principle, on some vehicles the design may use a different approach. Usually such a sensor is mounted on everything that has a rotating body. It is essentially a safety anti-skid braking system.
Where are the ABS sensors located?
Typically, on most modern vehicles, the common design calls for the ABS speed sensors to be mounted near the wheels. Technically, this is the most appropriate place to mount the ABS speed sensors on your vehicle. There may be an exception for certain vehicles, such as trucks that have solid axles.
Replacing a faulty ABS sensor
If the ABS sensor is not working properly in terms of monitoring the synchronization between the wheel and the brakes, it must be replaced with a new one. If you’re willing to do the replacement yourself, here’s a brief step-by-step guide on how you can replace your vehicle’s ABS sensor. Replacement instructions can differ greatly between different car models. This is a general guide.
- Make sure you have all the necessary materials.
- Consult your vehicle’s service manual to locate and identify the sensor.
- Using the diagnostic procedure, identify which sensors have failed and need replacement. Usually this is done by testing each sensor individually.
- Remove any obstacles to access the sensor.
- Remove all electrical connections and wires from the sensor.
- Remove the sensor by detaching it from the wheel.
- Be sure to keep a record of the wiring and the places from where you disconnected the wires.
- Thoroughly clean the tone ring and sensor mounting hole to remove any dust accumulated in it or debris from the brake lathe.
- Math of the old sensor with the new
- Install the new sensor from where you removed the old one by inserting it into the mounting hole.
- Be gentle to prevent it from breaking.
- Reconnect the connectors in the correct places and route the sensor wires in the correct route.
- Connect the sensor connections to the vehicle.
- Clear the error code from your vehicle’s scan tool.
- Take a test drive to make sure everything is working properly.
Diagnosing a faulty ABS sensor
Diagnosis is important for the ABS sensor as it will help us understand exactly where the problem lies. Here is a short procedure that can help you diagnose a bad or failing ABS sensor.
- Park your vehicle on level ground.
- Keep the engine off.
- Acquire the necessary tools and the service manual for your vehicle.
- Locate the ABS sensor.
- Find all the electrical connectors and wires. Remove them one by one.
- Use the voltmeter and carefully connect the probes to the sensor.
- After connecting the switch, set the voltmeter to AC voltage.
- Let the voltage fluctuate and then drop to zero.
- Once at zero, test by rotating or rotating the hub or shaft.
- Due to the rotation, a voltage should be produced and the readings will be displayed on the meter.
- If the readings do not appear and remain at zero, the ABS sensor has failed and must be replaced with another.
Once you know about the problem, it is wise to start thinking about solving it. However, solving ABS related problems is not everyone’s cup of tea, so there is a lot you can do. Here is a list of things you can do to fix your ABS sensor failure.
Read trouble codes
While an OBDII scanner is typically used to diagnose ECU related issues, there are some OBDII scanners available on the market that can also diagnose ABS sensor issues. Invest wisely in such a scanner as they cost a lot of money but are extremely useful. When you plug one into your car, it will show you a particular code on your screen that tells you where the problem is. Sometimes simply resetting the error code sent by the ABS system can solve the problem; However, if the problem persists, you can visit your nearest mechanic for a quick solution. You can consult our article The best OBD2 scanners to find a suitable scanner for you.
Clean the arch of your wheel
The ABS sensors are located near the wheel where the rest of the suspension is located. Most of the time, a sensor can become unresponsive if dirt builds up near it. You can use a blower to clean the gunk off your suspension and wheels or you can go to a gas station, pay a few bucks, and clean your car from underneath with a pressure hose. If you’re lucky, your car’s ABS light will go off.
However, if even after trying everything you’re still having bad luck, it’s time to visit an experienced mechanic. Mechanics are car doctors, and as such, they charge exorbitant fees for their service. But when you have no choice, you have to spend money.
ABS Sensor Replacement Cost
The cost to replace the ABS sensor can be different depending on the vehicle you are using, since the ABS sensors are replaced along with the complete control module. Again, this depends on the type of underlying problem and the design of the ABS system installed on your vehicle.
In the event that you can and do need to replace just one ABS sensor, you may have to pay an amount that ranges from $100 to $200 on average for most vehicles. This does not imply the cost of labor. If you’re not doing it yourself and have a mechanic do the job for you, it can cost you another $50 to $150, depending on how long it takes to replace it and how much the mechanic or auto repair shop would charge you. If you need to replace an entire ABS control module, the cost can increase, anywhere from $200 to as high as $600 on certain vehicles. For luxury vehicles, you should expect a relatively higher price for gadgets and parts.
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