5 Causes of Service Antilock Brake System Message Appear

Like many other safety systems in a vehicle, the Antilock Brake System (ABS) works with many components. Once any of the components get damaged, the whole system is affected.

It is why the ECU has created a way to warn the driver that there is something wrong with the ABS. The service antilock brake system is one way the ECU notifies the driver of issues with the ABS. 

Many drivers rely on the ABS function, especially when driving on a low-traction road, like in a snowy or muddy area. The system helps to ensure that the vehicle does not skid or lose traction. 

What is Service Antilock Brake System?

The service antilock brake system is a warning message that will appear if a problem exists with the Antilock Brake System (ABS) or its components. The message is common in Jeep and Dodge.

What is an ABS? The ABS is a safety feature with most modern vehicles that prevent the wheels from locking up when the brake is applied. The ABS works during emergency stops and allows the driver to maintain control of the steering wheel and put the car to a stop quickly. 

Once the system senses that the wheels are about to lock, thanks to sensors, the system will increase and reduce the brake pressure at a rapid rate by applying the brake pressure multiple times per second. It will give way for a little wheel movement as the vehicle slows down, preventing a wheel lock-up. 

There are essentially four components of the ABS, including the following.  

1. Speed sensor

The wheel sensor is also called the wheel sensor. It has the responsibility of monitoring the wheel speed and rotation. Information on the wheel speed is then sent to the ABS module as a signal, which allows the ABS to engage when an issue is detected.  

2. Pump

The system uses the ABS pump to restore pressure to the hydraulic brake once the valve releases hydraulic fluid. It allows the brake to activate according to the ABS signal. 

3. Controller 

The ABS controller is better known as the ABS controller module. It is responsible for collecting signals from the ABS sensor and then interpreting them.

4. Valve

The valve controls the hydraulic pressure and will ensure it is limited to a specific amount. When the brake pedal is pushed harder to prevent locking up, the hydraulic pressure is limited on the brakes. 

These are the major components of the ABS; when there is a problem with any of these components, the system will not function properly. In most cases, the system will stop working. The warning message “service antilock brake system” will come up when this happens.  

Causes of Service Antilock Brake System

Below are the common causes of service antilock brake systems. 

1. Broken speed sensor 

The speed or ABS sensor is an important part of the ABS. It is an electronic device that can get damaged in many ways. It could get broken, corroded, burnt, and more. 

When the sensor gets damaged, the ABS will no longer function as it should. The wheel speed and position information will not be sent to the ABS module. Once this happens, the ECU detects the problem, and the driver is notified via the warning message service “antilock brake system.”

2. Malfunctioning ABS module

Sometimes the module will malfunction due to simple errors. Issues like this are minor; all that needs to be done is resetting the system. Once the system is reset, the message will go away. 

However, more serious issues could happen with the ABS module. When the module is damaged, it could malfunction or might not function. In this case, the module needs to be replaced. 

3. Damaged ABS valve

The ABS valve is what controls the hydraulic pressure going to the brakes. When the valve is damaged, it is either stuck on close or open. It means no hydraulic pressure will go into the brakes when needed, or pressure will go to the brakes when not required. 

A major cause of this issue is accumulated dirt or contaminants in the valve from the hydraulic fluid.

Once the valve is damaged, the ABS can no longer control the hydraulic pressure going to the brake. 

4. Failing pump 

The pump is used to restore lost hydraulic pressure; however, due to the flow of hydraulic fluid, the pump could also get clogged. Once this happens, the pump will not function, and hydraulic pressure in the brakes will drop. It could cause the wheels to lock during emergency braking. 

5. Electrical problem 

The ABS makes use of electrical current to power its components and also communicate with these components. When this is a problem with the current flow, the ABS will automatically stop functioning. 

A major concern is damaged wires and failing car batteries. When these electrical components are bad, the ABS will not work until there is a fix or rep; placement of these electrical parts. 

How to fix Service Antilock Brake System

Many factors could cause the “service antilock brake system” warning message. It is why you need a proper diagnosis to determine the warning message’s exact cause. 

Below is how to fix a service antilock brake system warning message. 

1. Check and replace the damaged sensor 

The sensor we are looking at here is the ABS sensor. You can test the sensor using a scan tool. Once the sensor has been tested, you need to have it physically inspected if it is unavailable. 

You can find the ABS sensor in each wheel hub. The scan tool will show you the exact sensor that is damaged. Use the owner’s manual to locate the sensor properly. 

Once the sensor is found, inspect the sensor for obvious damages like corrosion, broken sensor body, connection, and wires. If damages are found, have the sensor and its parts replaced. 

2. Reset or replace the ABS module 

The ABS module can sometimes malfunction due to simple errors in the system. You can solve this by resetting the system. You can do this using a scan tool. 

After resetting the system, if the problem continues, then you may have damaged the module. In this case, you need to have the module changed. An expert assistant may be needed in this cause. 

3. Check and replace the valve 

If the ABS modulator valve is the cause of the issue, then you need to have the valve checked. There are more than one valves; it is important that you determine which of them is damaged during the diagnosis. 

The valves are located at the rear of the center suspension cross member. Once found, you can easily disconnect the valve and replace it with a new one. 

4. Fix the electrical problem

First, you must determine what type of electrical issue could be causing the error message. Electrical problems like damaged wires, burnt fuse, circuits, and failing batteries can affect the ABS. 

You could have a professional have the electrical issue properly diagnosed and fixed.  

Final thought 

Whenever the service antilock brake system comes up on your dashboard, it should not be ignored or taken seriously. The ABS is a safety system; simultaneously, problems can affect how your brake functions. 

Depending on the issue with the ABS system, your brake can become sticky or less effective due to problems with the ABS.

  • Edmond Davis

    I'm Edmond Davis, an automotive expert with years of experience in vehicle repair, performance, and safety. I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Automotive Engineering and have worked with major companies like Ford, GM, and Chrysler. I'm a trusted source of information for anyone looking to learn more about cars or improve their driving experience.

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