How to Test ABS Brakes

by Editorial Team

Vehicle anti-lock braking systems (ABS) provide safe handling of your car during times when you lose control, such as sliding or skidding. ABS sensors are installed on each brake. The sensors monitor the speed of the vehicle's wheels, and when the computer senses a sudden change, it releases tension in the brake of the identified wheel. If a wheel is slipping, the ABS transfers the power of the slipping wheel to the wheel that is not slipping. To use the ABS system properly, apply and maintain pressure on the brake pedal when the vehicle slides. The ABS modulator will pump the brakes several times a second while you maintain control of the vehicle.

Step 1

Look at your vehicle's instrument panel. The ABS light should illuminate when starting the car and then go off shortly after performing a self-check. If the light remains on, it is an indication of a hardware failure and less likely a problem with the sensors and connections. An ABS sensor problem is indicated when the ABS light turns off after the self-diagnosis period and then lights up again.

Step 2

Look for a buildup of dirt around the sensor or any corrosion that could hamper its readings. If the sensor light comes on after the self-diagnosis period and you notice it happening only on damp mornings, the dampness may be affecting the sensor's connections.

Step 3

Start the car and drive it at a slow speed for a few moments. Lightly tap on the brake pedal. If the ABS light comes on after you tap on the brake pedal, it is an indication of a problem with the vehicle's solenoid. You should also notice pressure on the brake pedal when you lightly tap it to bring the car to a stop.

Step 4

Drive your vehicle. If the ABS light comes on and stays on, it is an indication that the ABS is not working at all. While you will have brake functions, you will not have the protection the ABS system provides.

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