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Common Failures Due to a Damaged or Bad ABS Module: Symptoms!

All modern vehicles are equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS). The technology regulates brake fluid pressure to prevent wheel lockup during a panic stop or when stopping on slippery surfaces. This type of situation can be very dangerous for you, so we recommend that you learn about the common failures due to a damaged ABS module , in order to know how to identify the problem in time.

A computer, called the ABS control module, is the heart of the ABS system. Although module failure is fairly rare, it can happen, often resulting in one or more annoying symptoms that you’ll want to address immediately.

What is an ABS module?

The ABS module is the computer that manages the ABS system. To better understand the module, it helps to be familiar with the design and function of the ABS system.

ABS system operation

Since 2004, all new vehicles sold in the United States must have ABS technology. The ABS system helps prevent wheel lockup and skidding , thereby improving steering control and minimizing stopping distance in most conditions.

Many different designs of ABS systems have been used in automotive applications over the years. But a typical design includes the following components:

  • A wheel speed sensor on each wheel
  • A hydraulic control unit (usually including a pump motor and solenoid valves)
  • An ABS control module (sometimes called an electronic brake control module “EBCM” or electronic brake module “EBM”)

The ABS module monitors the wheel speed sensors to determine the deceleration rate of each wheel. When sensors indicate that wheel lockup is about to occur, the module actuates the hydraulic control unit to boost the flow of brake fluid to each wheel. The process reduces the braking contribution of the slipping wheel, allowing it to regain traction and avoid lockup.

The role of the ABS module in other systems

In addition, the ABS module helps manage the vehicle’s stability and traction control systems. To perform this task, the module adjusts the operation of the brakes to limit wheel spin and maintain the direction of travel.

The module also plays a role in regulating certain advanced driver assistance systems (automatic emergency braking, hill start assist, etc.) on vehicles so equipped.

Symptoms and common failures due to a damaged ABS module

Do you think you may be dealing with a bad ABS module? If you notice one or more of the following symptoms, you could be right.

Note: Other problems can mimic a faulty ABS module. You (or your mechanic) should perform a thorough diagnosis before carrying out any repairs.

1. Illuminated warning lights

An illuminated ABS warning light is the most common sign of a bad ABS module . The stability control light, traction control light, and other warnings will also likely come on.

2. ABS and other related systems do not work

Normally, a faulty ABS module will cause the ABS system to disengage. As a result, you will not have ABS functionality in situations where the system would normally activate. Other related systems (traction control, stability control, etc.) may also be disabled.

3. Involuntary application of ABS

A common failure of a damaged ABS module can also lead to the unintentional application of ABS under normal driving conditions.

Frequently asked questions and answers

Below are some questions frequently asked by the interested public regarding common failures due to a damaged ABS module. We have answered all the questions, in case at any time you have the same doubts.

1. What causes the failure of an ABS module?

The ABS module can fail prematurely due to moisture, corrosion, and other external factors. Software glitches and normal wear and tear can also cause the module to need to be reprogrammed or replaced.

2. Where is the ABS control module located?

Normally, the ABS module is mounted on the hydraulic control unit , and the assembly is located in the engine compartment. However, the exact location varies by vehicle, as some models have the module mounted separately or in a different location.

3. How to test an ABS module

Unfortunately, there is no single approach to testing an ABS module. But the troubleshooting process usually includes the following steps:

  • Check Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs): In most cases, a faulty ABS module will cause DTCs in one or more of the car’s control modules. Although DTCs don’t tell you exactly what’s wrong with a vehicle, they can be useful as a starting point for troubleshooting.
  • ABS related DTCs can be retrieved with a capable scan tool or code reader . Keep in mind, however, that not all diagnostic tools can access ABS codes, so you’ll need to do your homework before selecting a device.
  • Perform a visual inspection: The next step is to perform a visual inspection. Look for obvious signs of damage, such as broken wires or poor connections. Fix any problems you find and recheck the operation of the vehicle.
  • Consult service information for recommended diagnostic procedure: If nothing is found during visual inspection, you’ll want to consult a repair database for recommended diagnostic procedure and service information.

4. Can I drive with a faulty ABS module?

Continuing to drive with a faulty ABS module can compromise important systems, which can lead to reduced braking performance and other problems. You will want to address the issue as soon as possible to help keep your car safe.

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