When the ABS light is illuminated, it is a warning that the anti lock braking system is not working. The conventional braking system on your vehicle is still safe and fully functioning but once the light is displayed the anti-locking enhancement has been automatically disengaged. That is when a scan tool is required to interrogate the ABS computer to discover the fault codes associated with it.
Your ABS system includes many parts, each of which serve a different function. When any one of them is malfunctioning it will throw an error that will trigger the ABS warning light to come on in your dashboard and cause the ABS system to disengage. Some of these errors are more serious than others, but there is no way to diagnose the failure without using a special ABS computer scanning tool.
First we access the onboard ABS computer with a scan tool to discover the fault codes. We cross reference the error code with a diagnostic chart for the make and model of vehicle and it points us in the general direction of the problem.
Step two is where the art of diagnostics come into play. A computer is only able to note a malfunctioning or unresponsive component in a system, that is why a trained technician must take that data and diagnose the underlying cause for the problem and devise a solution of repair. For example: A car may throw an ABS error that points to the wheel speed sensor on a particular wheel. That gives us the place to look. A technician will then inspect that wheel sensor and determine if the whole module has shorted, if the wiring leading to the sensor has broken or become disengaged, or if the error is caused by something else altogether.
Once we diagnose the specific problem, we offer our repair recommendations. By finding the underlying cause quickly and efficiently we are able to lower repair costs and speed up the turn around time for our customers.
In most cases, when the ABS lights come on you still have fully functional brakes and only the anti lock system becomes disengaged until the fault is repaired. There is not a danger in driving the car, it just leaves the brakes “unmanaged.” The anti lock system is only put into action in a panic stop, and at all other times it is in a standby mode. Since the system is turned off once it throws an error you cannot check for symptoms in regular use once that light has illuminated.