ABS warning light on: what does it mean?

Once in motion, the cars constantly monitor all the sensors present in order to ensure that each component works as expected: among these, one of the most important is the ABS , that is the anti-lock braking system . For this too, there is a spy: let’s find out what it means to see it on.

The operation of the ABS warning light

L ‘ ABS is a safety system created in 1974 by the Swedish company Volvo and marketed by Bosch also said anti-lock braking system , it is mandatory since 2004.

The main task of the ABS is to check that the wheels all turn at the same speed : in slippery situations, the system can then use the brakes to check the grip.

To do this, it uses sensors on each wheel , which monitor their own rotation speed: control is then passed to the computer that checks the signals, along with the position of the brake pedal.

The ultimate goal is to keep the vehicle under control, so any anomalies or missing signals cause the ABS warning light to come on: this warning informs you that there is a problem.

However, ABS systems are not all the same: some make the light flash, while others leave it on constantly. In cars equipped with ASR or ESP, the color of the ABS warning light will be ocher.

Important: Remember that the number of blinks indicates a specific error code that helps you identify the problem . To find out what it refers to, use the user or maintenance manual or search for specific information online.

The ABS warning light: why it comes on and what to do

The computer may turn on the ABS warning light even if there is a low brake fluid level or a blown fuse . But what should you do when the ABS light is on?

First of all, stop the vehicle in a safe place, turn it off and restart it: in fact, sometimes a reset of the computer is enough, which by double-checking the sensors defines that it was not a fault, but a transitory anomaly.

Unfortunately, in most cases the solution is not so immediate: what does not work in the system will then turn on the light again. At this point, with some tools at your fingertips, you can start verifying a few things.

First of all, remove the wheels and inspect the speed sensors and cables, then check the ABS system fuse. You can change it, but if the underlying problem persists, the replacement is only a temporary solution.

For these reasons, after the checks you will almost certainly have to contact a technician , who, thanks to the scan tool, will identify any existing problem codes and then reset them.

ABS warning light on: do you have to stop?

It is important to underline that there are generally no particular restrictions on driving when the ABS warning light comes on .

However, if the brake warning lights light up at the same time , remember that you can brake normally, but without any assistance from the electronics in the event of skidding. For this reason, you can continue to drive carefully, especially on slippery surfaces.

You can also carry out a test: look for a free and safe road, accelerate and then brake hard.

On the other hand, you must consider any loss of braking power when the ABS warning light is on as a reason for an imperative stop .

In this case, stop and have the vehicle towed, remembering that maintenance interventions can only be carried out by specialized personnel who use adequate control and calibration equipment.


by Abdullah Sam
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