Think you need an ABS module repair?
The ABS module is the central brain of your entire anti-lock braking system. It’s responsible for adjusting your braking pressure to ensure that you don’t skid or hydroplane in tricky conditions.
And since it plays such an important role, you need it to work at optimum capacity. If you suspect something is wrong with your ABS module, you should address it right away.
So how can you spot a faulty ABS control module?
And more importantly, how do you get it fixed?
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about ABS module repairs. We’ll show you how to spot faulty ABS control modules, go over some important facts about these repairs, and even highlight a simple repair solution, too.
This Article Contains
(Click on a link below to jump to a particular section)
- Understanding The Anti Lock Braking System (ABS) And The ABS Module
- Symptoms Of An ABS Module Problem
- ABS Module Repair: 9 Things You Need To Know
- How Urgent Is An ABS Module Repair?
- Can I Drive Without An ABS Module?
- What Are My ABS Module Repair Options?
- Does A Faulty ABS Module Drain Battery?
- Can The ABS Module Be Reset?
- Can I Handle An ABS Control Module Repair On My Own?
- What Should I Expect From My Mechanic For An ABS Module Repair
- How Much Will An ABS Module Repair Cost?
- What’s The Best Way To Get My ABS Module Fixed?
Let’s get to it.
Understanding The Anti Lock Braking System (ABS) And The ABS Module
The Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is an additional layer of safety, responsible for preventing your vehicle wheels from locking during heavy braking.
The ABS wheel speed sensor monitors your wheel rotation and relays it to the ABS control module. The control module processes this information and adjusts the braking pressure as needed through a valve assembly in the ABS modulator (hydraulic pump).
This process keeps the vehicle from skidding or hydroplaning and ensures that the driver has some steering control, even in difficult conditions.
The ABS control module also has many names, including:
- ABS controller
- ABS computer
- Brake control module
- Electronic brake control module (EBCM)
- Electronic control module (ECM)
So, how can you tell if your anti-lock brake module is acting up?
Symptoms Of An ABS Module Problem
Here are a few common symptoms of a faulty ABS control module:
1. The ABS Light Is On
This is the number one indicator that something is off with your ABS brake system.
The good part is that since it’s a light on your dashboard, it’s very easy to spot.
The bad part?
A whole bunch of different issues can trigger it, like:
- A faulty ABS speed sensor — the ABS sensor at the wheels may be worn out, an electrical connector could be loose, or debris might have even struck the sensor.
- ABS module failure — this usually happens due to corrosion, as even a little bit of rust in the brake control module can cause problems.
- A worn ABS pump — the pump motor could be failing from wear and tear. A faulty ABS pump won’t transmit the correct brake pressure to the wheels.
- Bulb check error — some vehicles perform a “bulb check” when you turn on the car, where all the dashboard lights come on for a few seconds. A glitch might leave the ABS light on for no apparent reason.
Luckily, a triggered ABS light usually generates an ABS code that your mechanic can read to help pinpoint the problem that’s generating the ABS error.
Note: Older vehicles with an ABS braking system might not have an ABS light, and they use the Check Engine Light instead. Don’t get these two lights confused with the brake light, which turns on when you engage the parking brake.
2. The Brake Pedal Is Unresponsive
You might notice reduced brake performance, where you’ll have to depress the brake pedal a few times just to get a response. It could eventually get to a point where there’s no response at all — irrespective of how hard you press down.
This can be a strong sign of a deteriorating ABS control module that’s not processing sensor responses and adjusting the brake pressure accordingly.
3. The Brakes Lock Up
Lastly, if your brakes are locking up frequently, chances are your ABS system isn’t fully functional. After all, preventing lock-ups is what your ABS system is supposed to do!
Remember, any of these four symptoms could indicate a bad ABS control module.
If you spot one of them, your next step should be to call a mechanic, but there are also some questions you may want to ask:
ABS Module Repair: 9 Things You Need To Know
If you suspect that your control module is failing, here are some questions you might have:
1. How Urgent Is An ABS Module Repair?
The ABS control module rarely fails, so when it does, it should be fixed ASAP.
It’s a highly critical ABS unit as it’s the brains of the ABS and is a crucial part in ensuring your road safety.
Additionally, your Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Traction Control System (TCS) are dependent on ABS, which means a bad ABS control module will likely affect your car’s ESC and TCS – making it even harder to drive safely.
2. Can I Drive Without An ABS Module?
You can still drive without a functional ABS control module, as long as there’s no problem with your conventional brake system.
However, take extra care, especially in wet or slick conditions, as the brakes’ anti-lock element won’t work, and you likely won’t have steering control if your tires lock up.
Your vehicle ABS might also have an Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) system, where the ABS module controls the front and rear brake bias.
What’s brake bias?
Brake bias controls the balance of braking force, to account for weight shift during braking.
In conventional hydraulic brakes, the pressure at the wheels is adjusted via a mechanical proportioning valve. But with EBD, the ABS system manages brake bias better than a simple proportioning valve.
3. What Are My ABS Control Module Repair Options?
These are the usual options when it comes to an ABS control module repair:
- Replace it with a new module: This is the most expensive option but is also the most thorough and safest. It ensures that every ABS module issue is fixed since you’re replacing the faulty ABS unit entirely.
- Rebuild the current module: Instead of replacing your control module, you could have it repaired and rebuilt. As you’re still using the same module, it doesn’t need to be coded — which can save on some costs.
- Install a remanufactured module: Instead of replacing your broken ABS module with a new one, you could also opt for a remanufactured module to save on costs. As you won’t be using the same module anymore, it’ll have to be coded to your vehicle.
The scope of repair will also depend on the ABS control module configuration — which can vary based on the make and model of a vehicle.
Some control modules are mounted with the ABS modulator, so if the control module is spoiled, you’ll likely have to replace the entire ABS controller/modulator unit.
4. Does A Faulty ABS Module Drain My Battery?
An ABS module failure can cause the ABS pump to run continuously. This can eventually drain out your vehicle battery.
To prevent a flat battery or burning out the ABS pump, have your mechanic remove the ABS fuse. In most vehicles, the ABS fuse is located in the fuse panel in the engine compartment and is a 50A-60A fuse.
5. Can The ABS Module Be Reset?
If your ABS Warning Light turns on frequently, your mechanic can try to reset the ABS control module (like resetting a computer) to see if it fixes the problem by:
- Disconnecting the positive cable from the vehicle battery
- Holding down on the brake pedal to drain the vehicle’s electrical system
- Plugging back the cable to restore power
If the ABS light comes back on frequently (it may take a week to happen), it’s best to get your ABS control module looked at.
6. Can I Handle An ABS Brake Control Module Repair On My Own?
It’s recommended to leave an ABS system repair up to a skilled professional, as it can be incredibly complex.
Always bring your ABS computer problems to an expert because troubleshooting and repairing an ABS problem isn’t always straightforward. Alternatively, you can get a mobile mechanic to come over and inspect your vehicle for you.
On top of reading sensor codes, it can involve fixing solder joints, dealing with a connector or two, reading the ABS wiring diagram, and so on.
Sometimes, ABS control module repairs can involve more than just the control module, like a brake pad or ABS sensor replacements.
So, It’s essential to get to a mechanic who will be transparent about the necessary ABS repairs.
7. What Should I Expect From My Mechanic During An ABS Module Repair?
When you bring your vehicle for an ABS module repair, here’s what to expect from the mechanic.
They would likely:
- Confirm that the ABS control module is bad
- Remove and replace the faulty ABS control module
- Flush the entire brake system
- Add in new brake fluid
- Inspect the rest of the brake system for other potential problems
8. How Much Will An ABS Control Module Repair Cost?
An ABS control module replacement can range from $320 to over $1,000.
The wide price range isn’t really driven by labor cost, which will typically be around $80-$120.
It depends on how much the control module costs and how difficult it is to source. This amount can be as low as $200+ and may shoot well over $1,000 for some higher-end cars.
Here are some examples of average costs:
|Vehicle Model||Labor Cost||Parts Cost||Total|
|Nissan Altima||$95-$125||$240 – $478||$335 – $603|
|Ford Focus||$95-$125||$398 – $679||$493 – $804|
|Chevrolet Silverado||$95-$125||$420 – $712||$515 – $837|
|Toyota Camry||$95-$125||$571 – $820||$754 – $945|
|Honda Civic||$95-$125||$523 – $941||$706 – $1066|
An alternate option is rebuilding your original module or using a remanufactured module, which is more cost-effective.
The prices for parts for either of these are typically between $150-$350.
However, this assumes that your original ABS control module is actually rebuildable or that a remanufactured module (which is limited in availability) can be sourced. Additionally, this tends to be a far less thorough solution to ABS problems than installing a new one.
9. What’s The Best Way To Get My ABS Control Module Fixed?
Finding a reliable professional to deal with your ABS repair can be a hassle.
It’s a critical task that has a direct impact on your road safety, so you need to be careful with who you hire.
So, when looking for a mechanic, make sure that that they:
- Are ASE-certified
- Use only high-quality replacement parts and tools
- Offer a service warranty
A great option is mobile mechanic service RepairSmith!
RepairSmith is a convenient mobile car repair and maintenance solution that can handle all your ABS repairs.
Here’s why RepairSmith should be your go-to ABS repair solution:
- Online booking is convenient and easy
- ABS module repairs can be done right in your driveway
- Competitive, upfront pricing
- Professional, ASE-certified technicians perform the repairs
- All repairs and maintenance are performed with high-quality equipment and replacement parts
- RepairSmith provides a 12 month | 12,000-mile service warranty for all repairs
To get an accurate estimate of your ABS control module repair, just fill this online form.
Keep The ABS “Brain” Functioning
While the wheel speed sensor and ABS pump are also important ABS components, the ABS control module is the brain of your anti-lock brake system.
That’s why it’s especially important to keep it working in perfect condition.
Keep an eye out for any of the symptoms we mentioned. If you spot one, have a mechanic check your control module and give your ABS brake system a run-through.
Luckily, if you’re concerned about finding a reliable mechanic, you don’t need to worry.
RepairSmith can help you with any ABS problems that pop up. Simply make an appointment online, and an ASE-certified mobile mechanic will stop by to lend a hand!