What does the ABS warning light do and why is it on?

The ABS warning light tells you there’s an issue within the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system. This system helps the tires not to lock up in the event of an emergency stop and when braking in slippery or wet conditions. When this light is on the anti-lock braking system will not work, and it may be accompanied by other lights such as the slip, VDC off, brake, and trac light.

Common reasons for this to happen

  • Mismatched tires
  • Wrong size tires
  • Faulty wheel speed sensors
  • Faulty ABS actuator
  • Worn brake pads
  • Low brake fluid
  • Bad wheel bearings
  • Loose or disconnected electrical connectors

Can I drive with the ABS warning light on?

You can drive with this light on, but be warned the anti-lock brakes will not work. In the event of a panic stop, the stopping distance of the vehicle will increase therefore increasing your chances of not being able to stop before hitting an obstacle. Also, in wet or slippery conditions the vehicle will not be able to control brake pressure and there is a higher chance the vehicle could enter into an uncontrollable slide when stopping. The best thing to do is get the vehicle to a repair facility to have it checked out. Also, if the brake light is on with the ABS light, have the vehicle towed and have the entire braking system inspected. 

How do I fix the ABS warning light?

  1. Take the vehicle to a repair facility with a scan tool capable of reading ABS codes.
  2. Once they have diagnosed the concern, have it repaired.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my ABS light come on intermittently?

  • In some cases, this is normal if the ABS is activating such as in the case of a panic stop. As long as it goes back off, this is normal. However, if the ABS is not activating there may be a problem with the system and you should have it checked out.

Is it normal for there to be a loud noise when the ABS light comes on in the event of a panic stop?

  • Yes, it is normal to hear a loud noise when the ABS is activated. This is the ABS actuator applying pressure to different wheels’ brake calipers in order to stop the vehicle from locking up the brakes.

Is it normal for the brake pedal to vibrate when the ABS activates?

  • Yes, this is the ABS actuator pulsating the brake in order to keep the wheels from locking up. Maintain brake pressure when this happens and the ABS will control where the pressure is exerted. 

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