Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Is It Unsafe to Continue Driving a Vehicle with Broken Wheel Speed Sensors?

wheel speed sensor

A safe assumption is that many drivers typically rank mechanical failures on their vehicles based on many variables, including cost to repair or replace. Drivers sometimes think that if a sensor is damaged or a warning light is on the dashboard, it can be resolved later down the road, as long as the vehicle doesn't break down. However, when it comes to wheel speed sensors, a minor-seeming glitch may turn into a major safety risk. That is why in general, it is unsafe to drive a vehicle with a broken wheel speed sensor.

If the wheel speed sensor becomes damaged or wears out, initially you probably won’t notice much difference in the way your car performs if your ABS light comes on unless you are driving on slippery pavement. Your regular brakes continue to do their job, so it may seem like no big deal. Unfortunately, you have a false sense of security if you believe this is the case.

What is the Wheel Speed Sensor?

The wheel speed sensor, also known as the speed sensor or ABS brake sensor, is located on the back of each brake rotor and monitors the operation of the wheel and tire as it rotates. It is a data collection device that also relays that data to the ABS Module and ECU, so they can work together to fine-tune other vehicle systems such as brakes, transmission, and drive axles.

During normal operation, a tire and wheel combination on the same axle will operate smoothly, rotating at the same speed together. The primary job of the wheel speed sensor is to alert the system if one wheel is rotating faster than the others= as the result of less traction. The ABS system kicks in and helps you stop your car safely. This system normally does such a good job that you don’t think about it. The sensor itself is small, and can last for a very long time under normal driving conditions. Exposure to dirt, debris and cold weather can cause the wheel speed sensor to become dirty or break.

When the Sensor is Broken

If the wheel speed sensor isn’t working, it won’t send any information to the ECU when there’s a problem. The ABS system won’t know to begin working and you can lose control of your vehicle and cause a crash. When the sensor is broken, it causes the entire system to be disabled because it can’t function without the proper data. A disabled ABS system can even impact other safety mechanisms, such as electronic stability control and traction control.

It’s very dangerous to be out on the road when you know your ABS system isn’t working, regardless of the reason. If you cause a crash and knew about the faulty sensor, you could have greater liability for the damage. During most mechanical inspections or simple oil and filter change service, mechanics will document any noticeable system failures as a part of their invoice. If any mechanic informs you that the wheel speed sensor is damaged, be proactive and have it replaced as soon as possible.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

How to Buy Fuel Treatments
Adding a fuel additive to your gas tank when you fill up is one way to clean vital engine parts of deposits, improve the performance of your engine,...
Insurance Requirements for Car Registration in Kentucky
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requires that all drivers in Kentucky carry liability automotive insurance, or “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle legally and maintain vehicle...
How to Get a Louisiana Driver's Permit
s licensing program. The first step in this program is to obtain...


Related questions

Q: Any problem will occur in engine performance? Running long time with ABS light warning.

Hi, thanks for writing in. I'd be happy to help. An ABS fault will not effect engine performance. It will however, effect the anti-lock portion of your brakes. Your brakes will function like normal brakes except in slippery conditions or...

Q: Started out try to take off the wheel hub assembly even with a puller.

Hi. Sometimes the hub assembly is very hard to get out and the puller does not have enough force to get it out. The best way to get the hub assembly out is to use a hammer that at least...

Q: Check Engine light comes on when cars RPMS go over 4000 error code P0344

Hi there. This code is for a bad camshaft sensor. It can be caused by a bad sensor or it can come from another issue. I usually check the sensor first and then I check the timing belt. Most of...