Symptoms of a Bad or Failing ABS Speed Sensor

The anti-lock brake (ABS) system uses sensors that send data to the ABS module which will activate it during wheel lock. These sensor mechanisms are installed at the wheel, and is usually made up of two components. There will be a reluctor wheel or tone ring seated on the axle which will spin with the wheel, and either a magnetic or hall effect sensor which works together to send data to the ABS control module. Over time, the reluctor wheel may become dirty or damaged to the point where it can no longer provide a consistent reading, or the magnetic/hall effect sensor may fail. When either of these components fail, the ABS system will not function properly and will require service.

Different cars will have different ABS sensor configurations. Older vehicles may have only one or two sensors on the entire vehicle, while most new ones will have one at each wheel. Individual sensors at each wheel allow for more precise readings and operation, however, it does leave the system prone to more problems. When an ABS sensor fails, there are usually a few warning signs that will warn you that there is a problem.

1. The ABS Light comes on

The most obvious sign of a problem with the ABS system is that the ABS Light will come on. The ABS Light is the equivalent of the Check Engine Light, except only for the ABS system. When the light is illuminated, this is usually the first sign that will be displayed indicating that there may be a problem with the ABS system, and perhaps an issue with one of the system’s sensors.

2. Brakes take longer to stop car

During heavy braking conditions the ABS system should automatically activate to aid in slowing down the vehicle, and traction loss and skidding should be minimal. While we should try to practice regular driving habits that avoid heavy braking situations, if you do notice that the vehicle is taking longer to stop under heavy braking situations, or is experiencing traction loss and skidding, then that may be an indicator of there being a problem with the system. The ABS system is typically made up of only a few components - the module and the sensors - so a problem in its operation will either be with the module or the sensors.

3. Less stability under icy or wet driving conditions

Over time, most drivers will become familiar with how their vehicle handles under certain conditions, including slippery conditions, such as driving on wet or icy roads. A properly functioning ABS system will minimize any sort of traction loss, especially under wet and icy conditions. If when driving under wet or icy roads you experience any sort of tire slipping or loss of traction for more than a brief moment when stopping or taking off, then the ABS system may not be functioning correctly. This is typically due to either a problem with the module, or more likely, a problem with the sensors.

If your ABS Light comes on, or you suspect you may be having a problem with one or more of the ABS sensors, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine the exact nature of the problem, and if any repairs need to be made. They will also be able to replace your ABS Sensors if needed.


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JOHNNY

33 years of experience
140 reviews
JOHNNY
33 years of experience
Ford Escape L4-2.5L Hybrid - 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.
Toyota Camry - Brake System Inspection - Carmichael, California
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Jay

37 years of experience
869 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.

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22 years of experience
218 reviews
Benji
22 years of experience
Land Rover Range Rover Sport V8-4.4L - Brake System Inspection - Phoenix, Arizona
Benji performed a detailed inspection on my 2007 Range Rover and completed the work very quickly. Highly recommend!!
Lincoln MKX - Brake System Inspection - Gilbert, Arizona
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11 years of experience
127 reviews
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11 years of experience
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Excellent service and easy to work with; pleasant demeanor and punctual. Took the time to explain the inspection and showed me pictures of all the areas that need attention.

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