This article will explain the common symptoms and causes of ABS warning lights turning on. No need for a trip to the mechanic that will waste you a lot of time and money. The fix is usually just a simple cleaning or changing an ABS wheel speed sensor. The most common cause that triggers ABS light in a Chrysler 200, 300, Town& Country, and Pacifica is the failure of the ABS wheel speed sensor which is very easy to replace. Other possible issues include problems with the ABS Module, damaged tone rings, steering angle sensors, and even a flat tire. This article also includes easy-to-follow steps on resetting the ABS light to ensure your ABS can keep you and your passengers safe.
What does the ABS light mean on a Chrysler?
The ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) light on a Chrysler 300, Town and Country, Pacifica, and other models indicates a problem with the ABS system. The ABS light turning on is a signal that alerts the driver that the ABS module has detected a fault or malfunction within the system. The ABS’s main function is to prevent the wheels from locking up during hard braking, especially during accidents or driving on a slippery surface. Diagnosing and fixing the fault as soon as possible is important to avoid loss of braking performance and any potential safety hazards while driving.
List of common symptoms that may indicate an issue with the ABS in a Chrysler vehicle:
- ABS – Light Stays On
- Traction Control Light – Stays On Yellow light
- ABS ESP BAS – Warning lights may come on
- Service Anti-lock Brake System – The red brake light may also come on.
- ABS and TCS – Light On
- DTCs – Various trouble codes for ABSs, like C0121, B1596, C1300, C1963, C2200
- No communication with the module – When using the YOUCANIC scanner, you can not communicate with the ABS module.
- ABS pump running constantly – ABS pump may constantly run because the faulty module of the ABS relay is stuck closed.
Several issues can trigger the ABS light on a Chrysler, ranging from a weak or dead battery to a faulty steering angle sensor. Still, the most common problem that will fix the problem is the replacement of the ABS wheel speed sensor, which takes about 30 minutes and costs less than $50 if you do it yourself.
ABS Wheel Speed Sensor
The Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) in Chrysler models uses wheel speed sensors to detect the rotational speed of each wheel. The ABS module then uses this information to detect wheels slipping or locking up and adjust the braking pressure to prevent a skid.
The ABS wheel speed sensors are commonly located on the hub of each wheel. This location is prone to dirt and debris that might hinder the sensor from detecting the wheel speed or even damage the wire or the sensor itself. A faulty reading of the wheel speed can cause the ABS to malfunction. This can lead to the ABS light turning on and the ABS getting disabled.
Also, the wheel speed sensor’s magnets can attract iron debris from the road or the vehicle itself. Simply cleaning each sensor might be a quick fix for the ABS light to turn off.
The Traction Control System (TCS) also uses the wheel speed sensor to function via the ABS. This is the reason why ABS and TCS lights can both turn on at the same time. If you have the ABS light on in your Chrysler 300, check out this article on Chrysler 300 ABS light and how to reset it.
ABS Module Failure
The ABS module is an important part of the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS). An ABS Malfunction can result in the ABS not working correctly and leading to the dangerous locking of brakes during accidents or even engaging the brakes randomly while driving.
An ABS module can be damaged due to a variety of reasons. One of the most common causes is an electrical issue, such as a short circuit inside the main circuit board. Electrical problems can prevent the module from receiving accurate signals from the wheel speed sensors. Software programming can also be corrupted or needs reprogramming. Another cause is a mechanical failure, such as motor damage, valves getting stuck, or even brake lines getting kinked or blocked. These can cause the ABS module to fail or malfunction. When reading codes with a scanner, a common fault code is C2200 – Anti-Lock Brake Module Internal Failure. ECU-Testing goes over the symptoms of the ABS unit in this article.
Lastly, environmental factors, such as extreme temperature or exposure to moisture, can easily damage the ABS module. Symptoms of ABS module failure include the ABS warning light illuminating on the dashboard, the ABS not functioning correctly, and the brake pedal feeling hard or unresponsive.
Most problematic Chrysler models that suffer ABS module issues include:
2007-09 Dodge Durango
2007-09 Chrysler Aspen
2007-09 Chrysler Pacifica
Steering Angle Sensor
The ABS and the ESC system rely on the Steering Angle Sensor (SAS) information to function. The ABS needs the information of the SAS to know if the vehicle is turning to be able to apply the right braking force at each corner. If the SAS is not providing accurate information, the ABS may be unable to apply the brakes correctly to prevent wheel lockup.
When the ABS and ESP warning lights turn on simultaneously, it is important to have the SAS inspected. Ignoring the warning lights can decrease vehicle stability and increase the risk of accidents.
A weak battery can be the cause of the ABS light turning on. The ABS module must have a constant, steady voltage supply to function properly. If the battery is weak, it cannot provide enough voltage to the Anti-lock Braking System. This can cause the ABS module not to power up, and you end up with the ABS light on because the vehicle can not communicate with the ABS module.
A less common cause of ABS light is damage to the wiring of the Anti-lock Braking System. The wires and connectors are susceptible to damage due to their location close to the wheels, exposed to harsh conditions, dirt, and debris. Previous accidents can also lead to damaged or exposed wires. Sharp debris, like rocks and metal, can easily cut wheel speed sensor wires. Tires can also rub against the wires if the bracket isn’t installed correctly. Lastly, rodents and dogs chew wires and connectors under the vehicle.
Damaged wires and connectors cannot transmit the wheel speed signal to the ABS module, causing it to malfunction. A common code may be U0121 lost communication with the ABS control module or wheel speed sensor. Shorted ABS wires can also cause voltage drops and short circuits, disrupting the communication between various systems in the CAN network. This can lead to several control units not responding or communicating with each other. While repairing a cut wire is easy and simple, finding the damaged wires can be very difficult, even for an experienced auto mechanic.
Blown a fuse or Bad Relay
The fuses and relays are the safety components of the Anti-lock Braking System against power surges and short circuits. This is the first one to be damaged in case of the said incidents. If there are blown fuses or bad relays, the ABS system will not get any power from the battery, thus causing the ABS not to function when needed.
It is important to determine the cause of the blown fuse before changing it to avoid the problem reoccurring. A short circuit within the system is the most common cause of a blown fuse. Damaged wires can allow two or more wires to touch, resulting in a short circuit. If you replace the blown fuse but it keeps blowing, you have a short in the wire harness or a damaged ABS module.
Damaged Reluctor Tone Ring
Chrysler vehicles like the Chrysler 300 use a tone ring to allow the wheel speed sensor to determine the wheel speed. This is then sent to the ABS module. It is commonly located on the drive shaft. The tone rings can eventually wear down due to harsh road and environmental conditions.
Rust is the main cause of tone ring damage, especially if you are located in a rust belt. It can cover the surface of the ring, allowing inaccurate readings of the wheel speed sensors. Another factor that can cause damage is the dirt and mud that can stick to the ring. This is common when the vehicle is used on a muddy road. It is important to clean the components underneath the vehicle when used on a muddy or flooded road to avoid dirt buildup.
When a tone ring is damaged, the wheel speed sensors cannot detect the speed of the wheels, disrupting the signal sent to the ABS module.
Low Brake Fluid Level
The ABS in a vehicle uses hydraulic pressure to function properly. A low brake fluid level can cause a low braking pressure and insufficient brake fluid used by the brake system. This can also lead to air bubbles entering the brake system allowing unresponsive braking.
The brake fluid reservoir has a level sensor that can detect a low brake fluid level. This can result in both ABS and red Brake warning lights turning on simultaneously.
Low Tire Pressure
Low tire pressure can also cause the ABS light to turn on in a Chrysler vehicle because the ABS relies on the wheel speed sensors to detect the wheel speed. When a tire has low pressure, its circumference changes, causing it to move slower than the other tires. This difference in rotational speed between the tires can cause the ABS to malfunction, as it may detect a wheel locking up or slipping, which triggers the ABS warning light.
How to Fix & Reset Chrysler ABS Light
Diagnosing an ABS light on Chrysler models such as 300, Town & Country, Pacifica, and others, the first step is to read the codes stored in the ABS control module using a full system scanner to read fault codes from the ABS. A scanner such as the YOUCANIC full system scanner can be used for this purpose. The OBDII scanner will scan and run the diagnostics of the ABS module to retrieve the codes and describe the fault.
- Before plugging in the scanner, ensure the vehicle has a fully charged battery. A weak battery may cause communication issues between the scanner and the vehicle’s ABS module.
- Locate the OBD II port under the dash of your vehicle. It is usually located near the driver’s side and is a 16-pin connector.
- Plug in the scanner and turn on the ignition, but do not start the engine.
- Once the scanner is on, select “Diagnostics” from the main menu.
- Select the make of your vehicle from the list of available makes. You can select “Auto Detect VIN” to automatically detect your vehicle’s make and model.
- Select “Control Units,” then “ABS/Traction Control Module.” Remember that the name of this module may vary depending on the model.
- Once you have selected the ABS/Traction Control Module, you can select “Read Codes” to see any stored trouble codes related to the ABS. The scanner will display the current codes, which will help you determine what may be causing the ABS and traction control warnings to turn on.
- Based on the codes, the scanner may suggest performing further tests or inspecting certain components of the ABS, such as the wheel speed sensors, brake lines, and hydraulic control unit.
- Once the underlying issue has been fixed, select Clear Codes to clear fault codes stored in the ABS control unit and reset ABS and traction control warning lights.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to drive with the ABS light on?
Driving your vehicle with the ABS light on is possible, but it is not recommended. This could lead to poor braking performance during hard braking or accidents. It is important to fix the issue before driving, especially on slippery roads, to avoid accidents. Also, if the BRAKE light stays on, you should not drive the vehicle without consulting a mechanic first.
Is it Safe to Drive in Your Chrysler Town and Country and Chrysler 300 With the ABS Light On?
Driving with the ABS warning light on is not advisable, and your vehicle may not handle stopping or braking as it should. While the brakes may function during regular braking situations, they may lock up under heavy braking, leading to a loss of control and an accident. Therefore, it is important to resolve the issue with a qualified technician as soon as possible to ensure the proper functioning of the ABS and prevent any potential safety hazards while driving.
How Much Does An ABS Wheel Speed Sensor Replacement Cost?
The cost of an ABS wheel speed sensor replacement can depend on many variables, like the make and model of the vehicle, as well as the location and labor rates of the repair shop. However, on average, the cost of a single ABS wheel speed sensor replacement in the United States ranges from USD 200 to USD 300. You can replace one faulty ABS wheel speed sensor for under $100.
Why did my Chrysler ABS light come on after an oil change?
The ABS (Anti-lock Brake System) light coming on after an oil change is likely coincidental and unrelated to the oil change itself. However, it’s possible that the mechanic accidentally disconnected a plug or damaged a sensor or electrical connection related to the ABS while performing the oil change. Resolving the issue as soon as possible before using your vehicle is important.
Common fault codes that are present in the ABS module when the ABS warning light comes on:
- C1014 – Left Front Wheel Speed Comparative Performance
- C1011 – Left Front Wheel Speed Sensor Signal Erratic Performance
- C1041 – Left Front Tone Wheel Performance
- C2200 – Anti-Lock Brake Module Internal Failure.
- U0121 – Lost Communication with the ABS control module
- U1412 – Chrysler Implausible Vehicle Speed Signal
- C121A- Steering Angle Sensor not initialized
- C102A – The ABS control module has detected a problem with the left front wheel speed sensor.
- C101F – The ABS control module has detected a problem with the right front wheel speed sensor.
- C100A – The ABS control module has detected a problem with the left rear wheel speed sensor.
- C100F – The ABS control module has detected a problem with the right rear wheel speed sensor.
- U1417 – The ABS control module detected a vehicle speed sensor problem.
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