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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.
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