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Wheel speed sensors are a part of your brake system which, hopefully you already know, is a pretty important part of your car.
So what does this speed sensor do? Well you’re in luck, because it’s pretty straightforward. The wheel speed sensors monitor your car’s front and rear wheels, and the speed at which they each move. All four wheels have a sensor, placed on the hub right next to the brakes. Each sensor sends information to the anti-lock brake system (ABS) control module. The ABS control module monitors the four wheel speeds, to make sure they’re all working at the same pace. Then, the system corrects for any wheel that’s not up to speed.
What’s the point of that, you ask? Simple. Your vehicle’s sensor helps keep you on the road. By monitoring wheel speed, the ABS system is able to keep your wheels from locking up when you slam on the brakes, which usually keeps the car from spinning out. Wheel speed sensors are also used in the traction control system, which increases control with your front and rear wheels when you drive in tricky conditions such as on wet roads, across puddles, or over potholes.
Okay, now for the bad news. As great as the system is, your vehicle’s wheel speed sensors are subject to a lot of wear and tear and sometimes needs a replacement. The sensor is located near the wheel and near the road, so they’re on the receiving end of a lot of dust, dirt, debris, and objects that are kicked up. The sensor also can be damaged by brake dust. That type of wear often results in a sensor that needs a replacement.
There are also four of these on your vehicle, which means…well, 4x the speed sensor wear and tear and 4x the possibility of needing an ABS replacement.
We get it. Warning lights are so easy to ignore sometimes, but they’re there for a reason. They let you know when something is wrong with your car, which means they’re just trying to keep you and your car safe on the road. So, maybe stop ignoring them? If your wheel speed sensor needs replacing, you might see an illuminated traction light, stability control light, or ABS light.
This is a bit of a rare symptom, but can occur, especially in older vehicles. If your speedometer isn’t working, it may be the result in a speed sensor that isn't working. So, get your car serviced, and slow down - you’re driving faster than you think.
I sincerely hope you don’t find this out the hard way, but if your wheel speed sensors are malfunctioning, your anti-lock brakes may not work. That means that if you slam on your brakes, your wheels may lock up, and you may skid or lose control.
Failing wheel speed sensors will often result in the car turning off the traction control, the stability control, or other driver assist features. So, if you’re noticing that those features aren’t working, or are turned off, then that’s a big red flag pointed in the direction of your wheel speed sensors.Get a Quote 12-Month | 12,000-Mile Warranty
If you made it through this article thinking that ABS and traction control aren’t very important, then I’m not quite sure what to tell you. Those systems are huge parts of your vehicle’s safety, and above all, your own safety.
Leave the wheel speed sensors broken, and you’ll lose a lot of safety when driving in adverse weather conditions, or when slamming on the brakes. And that’s bad. Very bad.
You know what to do. Get your wheel speed sensor replaced.
12-Month | 12,000-Mile Warranty