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

asked by on November 17, 2015

Is it unsafe to continue driving a vehicle with broken wheel speed sensors?

The wheel speed sensors are the vehicle’s sensors which are used to collect data for the vehicle’s safety systems. These systems include such safety features as the anti-lock braking system (ABS) and the electronic stability control system (ESC), and both have become standard on all new cars in the US starting in 2012. Wheel speed sensors are devices that are used to read the speed of the rotation on a vehicle’s wheels and with that information assist the driver with keeping control of the vehicle. Occasionally these sensors can fail and cause a driver to be concerned if their vehicle is still safe to drive.

Wheel speed sensors are made up of a ring containing teeth, that is directly attached to the wheel and a sensor that reads how fast these teeth rotate. The data from the wheel speed sensors is used to determine how fast the wheels are going as well as the variables in speed between each moving wheel. This information is then processed by the ABS and ESC computers. Those computers can control how much gas is applied, as well as having the ability to apply or release the brakes for each individual wheel, in order to assist the driver in keeping complete control. These are great advancements in automotive safety.

The ESC, ABS, and wheel speed sensors systems are generally found in newer vehicles, especially since the 2012 requirement. However, older vehicles have existed for quite some time without wheel speed sensors or other safety systems in place. This lack does not mean that these vehicles are unsafe to drive, a newer vehicle with a broken wheel speed sensor is still considered just as safe. However, if a vehicle is equipped with safety features such as ABS or ESC, then it is highly recommended to have any broken sensors, wheel speed included, replaced so you can benefit from the extra safety features on your vehicle. While it is not unsafe to drive a vehicle with a broken speed sensor, they are more safe when all of the features are working correctly.

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

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Can a faulty sensor keep the engine from starting?

Today's automobiles use many different sensors to signal engine controls and computer circuits to start a vehicle's engine and run all the programing for fuel, timing, and emissions control. Bearing this in mind, it is critical for the vehicle's main...

Stuck in first gear - 2001 Chrysler Neon

These codes reference a malfunction in the transmission assembly. The problem may be another sensor or an internal fault within the transmission. The best thing to do in this case would be to diagnose the gear issue and pinpoint the...

ABS light turns On and Off.

Hi there. It could be a mechanical problem, such as the tie rod or a broken CV joint that is causing this issue. When the inner portion of the tire does not touch the ground, that's known as a negative...

Related articles

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Anti-Lock Relay
If your Check Engine or ABS Lights turn on, or you experience unexpected wheel lock, you may need to replace the anti-lock relay.
Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Anti-Lock Relay
If your Check Engine or ABS Lights turn on, or you experience unexpected wheel lock, you may need to replace the anti-lock relay.
The Most Common Error Codes for Transmission Problems
If your Check Engine Light has come on, there are a number of conditions that could be causing it. Many are related...