What does it mean when your ABS light is flashing?

The role of an anti-lock braking system (ABS) is to ensure the wheels don’t lock when brakes are applied. Most modern cars are designed with an anti-lock braking system as an added safety measure.

ABS ensures the driver has control over the vehicle’s steering – so anytime you apply the brakes the ABS prevents the wheels from locking thereby preventing the car from skidding. If there is any kind of issue or damage to the ABS, the ABS warning light on your dashboard will start flashing.

If your dashboard lights up with the ABS warning light then it is best to have the braking system checked up immediately. The ABS plays a critical role in keeping you safe – so don’t make the mistake of ignoring this warning light if it starts flashing.

What Causes the ABS Light to Come On?

There could be several reasons for the ABS warning light to illuminate your car’s dashboard. And while we recommend you have the issue checked up as soon as possible since it could indicate a potential issue with the ABS, there are chances that the light could come on due to other factors such a problem with certain sensors or other components linked with the anti-lock braking system.

Here are the five most common reasons for the ABS light on your dashboard to come on.

Low Braking Fluid Reservoir

The braking fluid plays an important role when it comes to controlling the braking pressure within the ABS.

Your car has a braking fluid reservoir which contains the fluid of the anti-lock braking system. If there is a leak in the brake fluid reservoir it could cause the fluid levels in the reservoir to drop. If this is the case, the ABS light will start flashing.

Alternatively, anytime there are excessive amounts of air in the system, it could lead to the illumination of ABS warning light.

Damaged Speed Sensor

The wheel hubs have speed sensors which help in calculating the movement rate of that particular wheel.

This information is then relayed to the ABS. However, if the ABS identifies an issue with a particular wheel (one wheel might be moving slow), it then increases the pressure of the braking fluid, which in turn helps in normalizing the movement rate of that wheel.

Anytime there is an issue with the speed sensors, preventing the required information from getting transmitted, the ABS warning light will come on.

A Glitch in the Bulb Check 

Certain cars carry out a bulb check – this is simply a way of checking if all the lights are working fine.

What happens in a bulb check is that all the lights flash and then turn off by themselves. If, however, there is a problem in the bulb check, it could cause the ABS warning light to stay on even after the bulb check is completed. 

Damaged ABS Module

One of the most common reasons for the module of the anti-lock braking system to go faulty is corrosion.

If the ABS module is damaged due to corrosion, then the information link between wheel speed sensors and the ABS is affected. If the level of corrosion is relatively little, it can create enough resistance on the wires, which in turn can prevent the module from functioning.

When this happens, it can lead the ABS light to flash. If the computer in the ABS module fails (a relatively less common occurrence), it will need to be replaced.

Damaged/Worn Hydraulic Pump

A problem with the hydraulic pump, which is responsible for providing the required amount of brake fluid pressure, can also lead the ABS warning light to come on.

As mentioned above, the speed sensors on the wheel hubs transmit wheel speed or movement information to the ABS.

If the ABS finds that one of the wheels is moving slow, it activates the hydraulic pump, which in turn increases the amount of brake fluid pressure to the wheel. However, it is not uncommon for hydraulic pumps to get worn out over a period of time.

If this is what is causing the ABS light to come on, then the hydraulic pump will need to be replaced and you don’t want any car issues during a Tucson summer.

Car Mechanics You Can Trust!

Is your car’s ABS warning light flashing? Unsure about what is causing the ABS warning light to come one? If yes, we can help. Give Accurate Service a call today at 520-620-9129 or schedule an appointment online at your convenience!