Is it Safe to Drive a Car with ABS Light On?

Your dashboard contains several different kinds of warning lights. Each warning light relates to a certain mechanism or component of your vehicle. One particular warning light is called the ABS light. The “ABS” refers to your anti-lock braking system, which most modern vehicles have. An anti-lock braking system is necessary so that your wheels don’t get locked up if you brake too quickly. You cannot drive safely unless you have functional anti-lock brakes.

If something is wrong with your anti-lock brakes, then your ABS light will activate on your dashboard. The engine control unit of your vehicle constantly communicates with the speed sensors of your anti-lock braking system. These sensors tell the computer how quickly your wheels are spinning. Based on this information, the computer knows whether your brakes are locking up as you attempt to stop the vehicle. If locking is detected, the system will stop it from happening.

Once you see the ABS light turn on, you’ll probably wonder whether it is safe to continue driving. After all, if your vehicle’s computer doesn’t know the speed of your wheels, then how can it prevent your brakes from locking up?

What to Do

The short answer is yes, it is safe to drive your vehicle if you see the ABS light activated on your dashboard. However, let the ABS light be a reminder that your brakes are not working to the best of their capabilities. That means you need to go easy on your brakes by not stepping on the brake pedal too aggressively. Try to avoid situations where you’re forced to slam on the brakes to stop quickly.

The first rule of thumb is to drive a little bit under the speed limit. Driving fast will only increase your chances of having to brake fast. But if you drive more slowly, then it is easier to step on the brake gradually and stop before hitting something. This is the kind of braking that you want to practice until you resolve the ABS light situation.

How to Fix the Issue

First, make sure your anti-lock braking system has actually gone bad. Sometimes there may just be one bad speed sensor that you need to replace. But if it’s your anti-lock braking components which have gone bad, your wheels will lock up when you step hard on the brake pedal.

In normal situations, the brake pedal will shake or pulse when you step on it aggressively. Meanwhile, your wheels will not lock up during this time either. If you are not experiencing this type of situation, then you need to have a professional mechanic inspect your braking system to resolve the issue.

In most cases, an ABS sensor is all that needs replacing. In other cases, an ABS module or ABS fuse needs to be replaced. The module represents the intelligence of the anti-lock braking system, which communicates with the vehicle’s engine control unit. If the unit cannot communicate with the module properly, then it’ll activate the ABS light. Either that or the module will inform the unit that something else is wrong with the system.

As for the ABS fuse, it helps prevent the system from failing if there is an unexpected electrical surge. But if your fuse were to stop working, then one surge could cause your entire system to malfunction. So, that would prompt the ABS light to turn on as well.

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Conclusion

All you need to remember is to bring your vehicle to the auto mechanic if the ABS light comes on. As you are driving to their shop, make sure you drive slowly and avoid any heavy braking. If you can follow this advice, then you’ll be able to drive safely with the ABS light on.

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