ABS means antilock braking system, so if the warning light comes on in the dashboard of your car, it means the system was deactivated due to malfunction. Many people initially worry when they hear that the antilock brakes aren’t working, but the vehicle’s brakes should still work fine. The antilock feature is just disabled. This feature prevents the car’s wheels from locking up when you press hard on the brakes. Therefore, your brakes could lock while you are braking heavily. Along with such, cars with stability and traction control are going to notice that these features are also disabled because they rely on the same sensors for wheel speed as the antilock braking system.
When you first start your vehicle, the ABS light should flash on and off briefly one time. The light is usually orange, yellow, or amber. The initial flash on/off is part of the system check to ensure that everything is working correctly. If the light stays on and doesn’t immediately go back off, it means something is working right, and the whole system has been shut off to prevent further complications or issues.
How it Works
The ABS uses sensors that are mounted at each wheel, which monitors the speed that the wheels turn. If one turns slower than the rest while braking, it indicates that the slower wheel is locking up, which could prevent steering control or cause skidding. The ABS intervenes by pumping the brakes rapidly right at the wheel that locked up, which allows it to spin faster so that you retain your steering and braking control.
Why it Stops Working
There are many reasons why the ABS feature might stop working on your vehicle to where the light comes on. Blown fuses and wheel-speed sensor damages are the primary issues. Sometimes, the sensor needs to be cleaned because it has too much road grime on it, as well. Along with such, broken wires between the ABS controller and sensors can cause the issue. The ABS controller itself may also stop working.
Sometimes, the pump and valve feature that should apply appropriate amounts of brake fluid can go bad, which triggers the warning light to come on.
Traditional Brake Light
If the regular brake warning light comes on (usually red), it indicates that the car is losing its brake fluid or the brakes are worn too much, and you have reduced stopping power. Regardless of the situation, it needs immediate attention and is likely to require repairs.
Is it Dangerous?
In most cases, the ABS light coming on is not a dangerous situation, and you can continue to drive. However, you may want to brake easily until you get it checked out by a reputable mechanic or technician.
However, if you notice that the normal brake light comes on (the one that doesn’t say ABS), you may want to stop driving if possible. It is best to have it looked at by a mechanic as soon as you can. You may want to wait and check the brake fluid to see if there is a leak or loss anywhere, as well.
If both the ABS and traditional brake light come on at the same time, it is considered an emergency. Stop driving immediately and call for a tow truck to take your vehicle to your local mechanic or auto shop to determine the issue.