Symptoms of a Bad or Failing ABS Control Module

The anti-lock braking system on a vehicle is an additional safety feature found on many modern vehicles. The ABS system is designed to help prevent wheels from locking during heavy braking situations, preventing the vehicle from skidding or hydroplaning. The ABS system is made up of the ABS module, and ABS sensors at each wheel. The sensors detect wheel speed, and will send a message to the ABS module to rapidly pump the brakes when it is detected that the vehicle is skidding or has lost traction.

When the ABS system is not functioning then loss of traction, skidding, and hydroplaning are far more likely to occur under heavy braking conditions. The ABS system on most vehicles is usually designed to give you plenty of warning signs when there is any trouble with the system. Being aware of these warning signs, and addressing the problem as soon as they arise will help ensure that your ABS system and vehicle remains functioning for maximum safety.

1. Unresponsive brake pedal

In certain cases, depending on the model of vehicle, when the ABS module fails, the brake pedal may become unresponsive. This is an obvious problem, as an unresponsive brake pedal will not stop a vehicle, or will not be able to do so in an adequately safe manner. In most cases, this will happen slowly, over time. Usually the brake pedal will become increasingly hard to press until it is no longer responsive.

2. Brake pads require more effort to push

When all components of the braking system are working properly, the pedal should require very little effort. It should be very easy to press down on, and once pressed should have an immediately noticeable effect in slowing the vehicle down. If you start to notice that over time the pedal requires increased effort in order to achieve the same amount of braking force, then that may be a sign of a possible issue with the ABS module.

3. The ABS Light is on

The most common sign of an issue with the ABS system is the ABS Light coming on. The ABS Light will show an amber color, and is the equivalent of a Check Engine Light, except it is only to diagnose problems with the ABS system. Older vehicles equipped with earlier ABS systems may not have an ABS Light, and may use a Check Engine Light instead. If the ABS Light comes on then that is a sure sign that there is a problem with the ABS system.

4. The brakes are locking up

When it is functioning correctly the ABS system is designed specifically to prevent the wheels from locking up during heavy braking, preventing loss of traction. However, there can be certain instances where a faulty ABS module can behave erratically, causing your brakes to lock up even under normal driving conditions. If you are experiencing sporadic behavior from your brakes, such as random clicking noises, and/or pumping of the brakes, then the ABS module may need to be replaced.


Next Step

Schedule Brake System Inspection

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Brake System Inspection. Once the problem has been diagnosed, you will be provided with an upfront quote for the recommended fix and receive $20.00 off as a credit towards the repair. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

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

Recent Brake System Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating

(300)

Rating Summary
280
11
3
1
5
280
11
3
1
5

Johnny

33 years of experience
243 reviews
Johnny
33 years of experience
Toyota RAV4 L4-2.4L - Brake System Inspection - Sacramento, California
Johnny arrived early which was great, he performed the inspection in less than half an hour, and gave us a complete quote for all items needing attention, including the brakes as our main concern. Johnny is fast and efficient so I scheduled the work done by him.
Ford Escape - Brake System Inspection - Sacramento, California
The convenience is worth the cost. I was also tired of the dealership not really caring about my old car. Last couple of times I had to wait well over an hour to get my car after the dealership said "It's ready!". They also wouldn't fix the things I asked saying they didn't have time and I need to come back.

Jay

37 years of experience
937 reviews
Jay
37 years of experience
Chevrolet C10 Pickup V8-5.4L - Brake System Inspection - Moreno Valley, California
Knowledgeable, Professional, Friendly, and PATIENT! Sickeningly HONEST, as I tried to ply him with cash, alcohol, outside work, and wild dancing girls - although I wouldn't have "ratted him out" if he HAD accepted. A guy like this needs a "bigger cut" than what you are paying him ... because loyalty like his is hard to find these days! THANKS!
Volkswagen Jetta - Brake System Inspection - Moreno Valley, California
As usual, Mr. Jay provides efficient and professional quality of work. I would highly recommend him to any customer searching for a good mechanic.

Christopher

10 years of experience
114 reviews
Christopher
10 years of experience
Ford Explorer V6-3.5L - Brake System Inspection - Katy, Texas
Christopher was very knowledgeable and was able to address our concerns. We would trust him with future service needs.

Jesse

16 years of experience
58 reviews
Jesse
16 years of experience
Nissan Frontier V6-3.3L - Brake System Inspection - Flagler Beach, Florida
Jesse took the time to explain everything that was going to be done and why and then proceeded to repair my truck not only professionally but quickly. As a disabled Veteran and no longer able to perform work that was needed to be done it is nice to know a mechanic such as Jesse will take the time to explain all the various issues and what needs to be done before a blanket you need everything. After Jesse went thru everything I felt comfortable that all work was required and needed. 8 can safely say I will use yourmechanoc .com again and hope I can request Jess

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

Related articles

How to Replace an ABS Speed Sensor
The Anti-Lock Braking System uses speed sensors to make sure your wheels are synced when braking. Most modern cars are equipped with this sensor.
How to Replace a Proportioning Valve
The brakes on the rear wheels may lock up when the brake is applied especially when surfaces are wet if the proportioning valve is failing.
Signs You Need New Car Brakes
Car brakes are essential to maintain for safety. Spongy brake pedals and a shaky steering wheel are signs to change the brake pads or brake rotors.

Related questions

Brake piston seized after brake pad change

Was this the rear brakes? Many times the rear calipers have to be turned in with a special press that turns the piston and presses the piston in at the same time. This is because the parking brake is built...

My car has a traction control light on and the steering feels wobbly.

Hi there. The brake calipers could be loose and moving around when you step on the brake pedal or the slider rods could have dry grease in them causing the caliper to only move on one side causing the brake...

Engine light Problem

U1900 is a communications failure and the other code is possibly setting simply because the controller (U1900) that is not reporting controls the ABS module. The circuits between the anti-lock brake system (ABS) module, the instrument cluster, the power train...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com