So, the light on your abs has come on and you’re wondering what to do next. That’s not a surprise, given that your anti-lock braking system may have suffered a serious failure that, in the worst case, could severely affect your car’s braking performance, especially in wet or icy conditions.
what do the abs do?
your abs, or anti-lock braking system, do exactly what they say; prevents your car’s wheels from locking when braking hard, thus maintaining greater control and limiting the chances of your car skidding.
When you brake hard, perhaps to avoid a collision, sensors at each of your car’s wheels send messages to the engine control unit, or ECU, to tell it which wheels may lock up and skid. Your ECU then intermittently releases the brakes on each wheel to prevent them from locking up and allow you to maintain control of your vehicle.
When you start your car, the abs light will come on automatically. This is because your car always checks the ABS system when starting; if there is no problem the light will turn off. If the light stays on, it is a sign that there is a problem with your car’s ABS system.
what could cause the abs light to come on?
There are a variety of things that can cause your abs light to come on and there are a few things you can do to identify some of them.
first you should check the brake fluid reservoir to make sure the levels are not too low, as the abs warning light may come on if the brake fluid levels have dropped. if this is clearly a problem, you can top up the brake fluid yourself, which should cause the abs light to go out.
If this doesn’t work, it’s a clear sign of a more serious problem that you may not be able to see for yourself. it could be that one or more of the wheel sensors, which send information to the ecu, has been damaged in some way. this could cause it to report abnormal readings, or no readings at all, causing the ecu to report an abs fault.
The abs warning light could also have come on due to a loss of pressure in the brake system, which could be due to cracks or tears in the brake fluid reservoir or brake lines. both are problems that would likely be identified by testing by trained technicians in a garage.
what to do when the abs light comes on
If the ABS light comes on individually, you can safely drive your car to its destination as its normal brakes will continue to work. Of course, you’ll have to be more careful as your abs won’t respond in an emergency. You should reserve your car at your local garage as soon as possible so they can run diagnostic tests to identify the causes of the anti-lock brake warning light.
however, if both the abs light and the brake warning light come on together, it means a much more serious problem and you should not continue driving. If this happens, you should stop your car steadily, being very careful with the brakes, slowing down gradually. Once you have pulled over to a safe location and turned off the engine, you should call your local breakdown service or garage to have your vehicle repossessed.
If you have other warning lights on your dash and want to know what they mean, be sure to read dash warning lights explained.