6 Symptoms Of A Bad ABS Control Module & Replacement Cost

Ensuring your ability to steer the car during emergency braking is a vital role fulfilled by the ABS control module. Whenever the ABS control module becomes faulty, it produces different symptoms. Detecting symptoms of a bad ABS control module is essential for safe driving.

Symptoms Of A Bad ABS Control Module

A functional ABS control module ensures your on-road safety and prevents your vehicle from accidents. However, as the performance of the ABS module deteriorates, it exposes you to potential accidents, particularly during hard braking.

The ABS control module is responsible for managing wheel speed and regulating brake pressure to the caliper in situations of intense braking. This functionality is crucial to retain your steering capability and control. This article explains the bad ABS control module symptoms, causes, and how to test it.  

ABS Control Module Function

The ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) is designed to prevent wheel lock-up when braking forcefully. This system contains an ABS control module, ABS sensors, and hydraulic valves working collaboratively to maintain steering control while braking hardly.

ABS Module Function

The ABS control module functions as a microprocessor responsible for diagnostic evaluations of the car’s ABS system. It takes inputs from the hydraulic brake system and wheel-speed sensors. This information aids in determining the opportune moments to release brake pressure on a wheel at risk of locking up and causing skidding.

The role of the ABS module is to process data provided by ABS sensors. The Engine Control Module (ECM) then transforms this processed data into electronic signals, guaranteeing the optimal functioning of the ABS system.

Symptoms Of A Bad ABS Control Module

When the ABS control module of your vehicle becomes faulty, it produces one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Wheel Locking
  • ABS Light
  • Wrong Speedometer Readings
  • Unresponsive Brake Pedal
  • Increased Braking Effort
  • Pulsating Brake Pedal

1) Wheel Locking

Wheel Locking

The lock-up of the vehicle wheels is one of the clear symptoms of a bad ABS control module.

The ABS module of your vehicle plays the most important role in preventing wheel lock-ups during instances of traction loss. But when it becomes faulty, the accuracy of the data necessary to prevent wheel locking becomes compromised.

When the wheels of your car start to lock up due to traction loss, the ABS control module could be a potential culprit. This issue usually becomes noticeable when sudden braking occurs. Conversely, if your wheels consistently lock up, it might be due to a stuck brake caliper.

2) ABS Light

ABS Warning Light

Modern vehicles are equipped with an ABS light. This light is located on the vehicle’s dashboard. When something goes wrong with the ABS system, ABS starts to illuminate.

 A failing ABS control module is one of the major causes of ABS light illumination. In modern cars, an amber “ABS” light is present, while older versions might utilize the check engine light for this purpose.

Once the ABS light is illuminated, the system’s functionality might become compromised. Despite the ability to drive without the ABS, it’s strongly advised not to do so. The ABS is a critical safety feature designed to safeguard you while driving.

Read More: Causes of ABS Light Illumination

3) Wrong Speedometer Readings

Car Speedometer, signs of bad ABS module

In some cases of ABS control module failure, abnormal behavior might affect the speedometer’s functionality. While not a common scenario, it is a possibility.

The speedometer could either remain stationary at 0 mph or display inaccurate speed readings. Often, this issue may cause the illumination of the check engine light or ABS light.

4) Unresponsive Brake Pedal

Brakes Take Longer To Stop

As you press the brake pedal, your expectation is that the vehicle stops immediately. Nonetheless, a malfunctioning ABS control module may complicate the braking process.

Initially, you may observe an increased level of effort required for braking, as described earlier. Over time, this increased force can escalate and potentially lead to a complete loss of brake pedal functionality.

Low brake fluid levels could also contribute to this issue, requiring a comprehensive system assessment. The flushing of the brake fluid system may be beneficial to eliminate any air within the lines.

5) Increased Braking Effort

Spongy Brake Pedal, symptoms of bad abs control module

A spongy brake pedal is also one of the clear signs of a bad ABS control module. It may also lead to the automatic engagement of brakes while braking. This issue may also be produced due to a drop in brake fluid levels. In the event of an unresponsive brake pedal, immediate attention is crucial.

The ABS control module is responsible for introducing additional brake fluid into the braking system when needed.

As braking intensity increases, the ABS pump progressively injects more fluid, ensuring optimal brake pressure without causing wheel lock-up. If the brake pedals feel spongy during this process, it signifies the reception of a large amount of brake fluid from the ABS unit.

6) Pulsating Brake Pedal

Pulsating Brake Pedal

A bad ABS module may lead to a pulsating or vibrating brake pedal under normal braking conditions. This pulsating condition produces because of the erratic modulation of brake pressure.

Read More: Why Your Car Jerks While Braking?

Causes of Bad ABS Control Module

The ABS control module of your vehicle goes bad due to one or more of the following causes:

  1. ABS Sensor Failures: The ABS sensor is one of the most important parts to ensure the proper working of the ABS control module. When it becomes faulty, it sends wrong information to the ABS module about wheel speed and reduces the performance of the module.
  2. Damaged Wiring: The ABS control module of your car highly depends on electrical signals to work efficiently. When there is something wrong with the electrical system (i.e., damaged wires), the performance of the ABS control module is compromised.
  3. Hydraulic Problems: The ABS control module plays a vital role to manage the hydraulic valves. These valves are used to control the brake fluid pressure supply to each wheel. When this valve becomes faulty, it may lead to poor performance of the module.
  4. Software needs to update: The ABS control module contains software that processes inputs and makes decisions regarding brake change. Software programming errors, bugs, or glitches may impact the performance of the ABS system.
  5. Mechanical Damage: The ABS control module of your vehicle may damage due to an accident or other physical impacts.
  6. Age and Wear: Over time, the parts of the ABS control module may wear out like other electronic parts.
  7. Poor Maintenance: Poor maintenance, especially those involving the ABS system or related parts, may cause the poor performance of the ABS control module.

ABS Control Module Location

The location of the ABS control module depends on the vehicle model. In most vehicle models, the ABS control module is typically located in the engine compartment. But in some models, it may be positioned on the driver’s side frame rail.

ABS Control Module Location

Locating the ABS control module might require lifting the vehicle or accessing it beneath plastic panels or covers. Upon discovery, the ABS control module is attached to a solenoid block featuring multiple brake lines interconnected to it.

For clarification, consulting the service manual specific to your vehicle’s make and model is advisable to ascertain the precise location.

How to Test the ABS Module

If your ABS control module is creating problems for you, follow the below-given steps to test it:

  • Park your vehicle on a flat surface.
  • Turn off the engine and let it cool.
  • Open the car’s hood.
  • Disconnect the negative terminal of the car’s battery.
  • Set up the multimeter for use.
  • Proceed to assess the fuses. Extract the fuse from the ABS module and subject it to multimeter testing. If your fuse is found to be blown, replacement is necessary.
  • Following the fuse examination, set the multimeter to test the relay.
  • Conduct an assessment of the ABS sensors and wiring by utilizing a multimeter.
  • Move on to testing the ABS module itself using the multimeter. If there is something wrong with the module, you need to replace it.
  • After testing the ABS module, reconnect all the parts back to their original places. While the procedure for testing the ABS module is straightforward, exercising caution during the process is imperative.

ABS Control Module Replacement Cost

The replacement or repair cost of the ABS control module varies according to the vehicle model, labor cost, and the type of the part’s brand. The average replacement cost of an ABS control module ranges from $180 to $1600. In this cost, the cost of the parts is from $140 to $920, with the remaining cost accounting for labor.

Opting to perform the replacement independently eliminates labor costs. Alternatively, labor costs could vary from $50 to $320, vary according to the problem.

Given the details of the braking system, many individuals without extensive experience might find it prudent to engage a skilled mechanic for the ABS control module replacement.

ABS Control Module Cost$140 to $920
Labor Cost$40 to $680
Total Cost$180 to $1600

FAQ Section

How long does an ABS control module last?

An ABS control module is engineered to endure the lifespan of a car, but similar to other parts, it can ultimately experience failure. Several factors, such as usage frequency, model variation, and driving conditions, contribute to the longevity of an ABS control module. Generally, you can anticipate an ABS module to function effectively for at least 10 years.

Can I drive my car with a bad ABS control module?

It is not recommended to drive with a malfunctioning ABS control module and should be avoided whenever feasible. Driving with a faulty ABS module may lead to accidents. A faulty ABS control module may lead to various issues with the braking system of your vehicle, such as unexpected braking occurrences, elongated stopping distances, and diminished braking effectiveness.

What happens when the ABS System becomes faulty?

The proper functioning of your car’s ABS system relies on a functional traditional brake system. When the ABS brakes of your car encounter failure, the regular brakes of the car should still operate, effectively reducing the wheel speed—assuming no issues exist within them. In cases of ABS module problems, exercising caution during braking becomes essential to prevent skidding.

How do I reset my ABS control module?

In the case of new vehicles, you can reset your ABS control module by using an OBD-II scanner. However, in old cars, disconnecting the battery and then reconnecting it after a brief interval might reset the ABS module. This action typically refreshes the system and resolves any encountered errors.

Does the ABS module contain a fuse?

In the latest vehicle models, a fuse is integrated into the electrical aspect of the ABS system. The fuse is used to ensure the supply of power to the ABS module itself and acts as a protective mechanism against circuit overload or unexpected grounding scenarios.

What causes an ABS control module to fail?

The ABS control module most commonly fails due to the failure of the ABS sensors. It may also be failed due to an issue with the electrical system, hydraulic valve failure, poor maintenance, mechanical damage, or normal wear and tear.

Is it safe to disable the ABS system?

It is not suggested to disable the ABS because this system decreases your efforts to maintain control during emergency stops. Therefore, it is ideal to fix the problems related to the ABS system promptly.

Is it OK to drive with the ABS light on?

When the ABS light is illuminated, it’s advisable to drive cautiously while promptly seeking examination. You can drive with ABS light until your regular braking system works efficiently. However, it’s not recommended to do so due to safety concerns.

Can an ABS control module stop a car from starting?

No, a malfunctioning ABS control module doesn’t impede your car’s ability to start if you’re confident that the ABS relay is damaged. The ABS relay is exclusive to the brake system circuit. If your engine doesn’t start promptly upon ignition, the issue is likely related to a weak battery or other problems.

Can bad ABS cause engine problems?

An issue with the ABS system doesn’t impact engine efficiency. But it affects the anti-lock feature of the vehicle’s brakes. The brakes of your vehicle will continue to function like regular brakes, but during heavy braking or slippery conditions, there’s a risk that the wheels might lock up, potentially leading to a loss of control over braking.

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