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What are the Signs of an ABS System Failure in Your Car?

Car Unresponsive Brake Pedal

Most modern vehicles employ an anti-lock braking system to prevent the driver from losing steering control while applying the brakes. The system comprises speed sensors attached to each wheel, valves, a pump, and a controller, which allows the driver to steer the vehicle while applying the brakes.

When any system component fails, it affects the proper functioning of the ABS, resulting in hard braking, erratic brake behavior, and unusual noise while braking. Before discussing the symptoms of a failed ABS, let’s examine the ABS components and how they help the driver maintain steering control while braking.

The Anti-Lock Braking System

  • Pump: The pump is also known as the modulator or Hydraulic Control Unit (HCU). The pump comprises valves controlled by solenoids, an electrical engine, and a base connecting brake hoses. The pump can control the hydraulic pressure of the brake line through the signals from the ABS control module.
  • Module: The module regulates the pump and serves as a microprocessor that runs diagnostic checks on the ABS.
  • Sensors: The wheel speed sensor monitors the wheel speed of a rotating wheel and transmits the information to the control module.

When the driver engages the brake pedal, it activates the brake pads, forcing it against the wheel discs. This, in turn, stops the wheel rotation, bringing the vehicle to a halt. The total locking of the wheel rotation causes slippage between the road and wheels, which could make the vehicle spin out of control.

The ABS prevents the wheels from completely locking out during braking. The speed sensors monitor the wheel’s speed and communicate with the modulator to partially release the brake pad when it detects that a wheel is about to lock up. This allows the locking wheel to spin intermittently and prevents the vehicle from spinning out of control.

Signs of Anti-lock Braking System Failure in your Car

Apart from the illumination of the ABS warning light on your dashboard, there are other symptoms that notify the driver of an issue with the system:


  • Brake lockup: The primary function of the ABS is to prevent the brakes from completely locking up when braking. If you notice that your brakes are locking up while braking, you should contact our professionals to have the system checked. You also want to avoid braking hard until you have the issue rectified, because it could cause your vehicle to spin out of control.
  • Unresponsive brake pedal: The brake pedal may stop working when your car’s ABS begins to fail. If you notice that you have to press the brake multiple times before it responds, bring your car to us to have your brake system examined.
  • Speedometer failure: The failure of the wheel speed sensor may affect the proper functioning of the speedometer. The failed wheel speed sensors cause an inaccurate reading of the vehicle speed.
  • Unusual noise: You may also hear a random click sound from the brakes. Always trust your instincts if you suspect something is different about your car that normal.

Is it safe to drive with a failed anti-lock braking system?

When the onboard computer detects an issue, it notifies the driver by triggering the ABS warning light on your dashboard. Driving with a failed ABS puts you at risk of spinning out of control when you engage the brakes. Whenever you notice a beaming ABS warning on your dashboard, contact our professional mechanics for a proper diagnosis.

Nikolas Motorsport: Expert Brake Service and Repair

You need to know that you can trust your mechanics to get the job done Car ABS System Repair right with the first attempt. At Nikolas Motorsport, we understand how important your vehicle brakes are, which is why we only utilize quality parts for our experienced technicians.

We are equipped with the latest factory-grade tools and equipment to get the job done right. With over three decades in the business, we have delivered dependable services to drivers in the Southern Area of Michigan, building excellent relationships and trust.

We are located in Pontiac, MI, and welcome drivers from Bloomfield Hills, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Royal Oak, and Troy. Call or visit our shop today to schedule an appointment or learn more about our services and maintenance programs.

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