How to Reset Anti-Lock Brakes

by Jerry Garner
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Bien Stephenson, Creative Commons License

You may someday find yourself in a situation where the indicator light for your Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) is lit on your vehicle and needs to be reset. There are a variety of reasons for why the light may be on. The process for resetting the ABS is the same regardless of what triggered the light to begin with, although if there is a serious problem with your brakes, you should have them replaced or repaired prior to resetting the brake indicator.

Step 1

Reset the power to the central computer on your car. Do this by disconnecting the positive battery cable on your car and holding down on the brake pedal until the car's electrical system has been drained. With no stored electricity, the car's computer will be reset and the indicator light will go off. Reconnect the positive cable on the battery to restore power to the car. If the light stays off, it has been reset. If it comes back on (which may take up to a week), continue on to the next step.

Step 2

Change the ABS sensor that controls your anti-lock brakes. As sensors age, they wear out and sometimes begin to send out false readings. Fortunately, they are cheap and easy to replace. The sensor for your anti-lock brakes is located within a sensor housing, which is attached to your wheel hub by a screw. Simply unscrew the housing and unplug the sensor wire, then replace with a new unit. The indicator light should reset on its own, or you may need to repeat Step 1 in order to drain power away from the computer. If the light remains off, then this was the cause of your problem. Otherwise, continue to the next step.

Step 3

Use an OBD code reader to trace down the problem that is causing your anti-lock brakes to trigger the indicator light. The OBD reader connects directly into the On-Board Diagnostics system on your car. A code reader can be purchased for as little as $30. If you do not want to buy a code reader, you can typically take your car to the local car parts store, and they will read the codes for you. These codes will tell you what parts need to be replaced on your brakes so they will stop triggering the indicator light. Repair or replace these parts and you will be finished.

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