Troubleshooting Dodge ABS Light & How to Fix It
You are driving your Dodge or starting the car in the morning and all of sudden you hear a beep then the ABS light comes on along with a yellow traction control (TCS) that makes your dashboard light up like a Christmas tree. At first, you are like “Oh no, this is going to be expensive to fix”, then the next thought is whether it is still safe to drive a Dodge with an ABS light on. What could possibly be the cause of the warning light? This article will explain the common causes of ABS lights turning on in your Dodge and how to troubleshoot it yourself. You’ll be surprised that a simple clearing of fault codes or resetting the steering angle sensor might help you avoid a trip to the mechanic.
One the most common problems that trigger the ABS warning light to stay on (along with the traction control light) is a faulty ABS wheel speed sensor which is very easy to replace and costs less than $50 and can affect multiple models including Dodge Charger, Ram, Challenger, Grand Caravan, Durango, Journey, etc. Replacing the ABS sensor yourself will save you a lot of time and money. Other possible causes include a faulty ABS control module, damaged wires, faulty steering angle sensor, defective ABS module, defective ABS pump, and even a weak battery. This article also includes an easy to follow steps on how to reset your ABS light.
What does the ABS light mean on a Dodge?
The ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) light in Dodge models turns on when there is a fault within the system. It is a warning that alerts the driver about an issue or a malfunction with the ABS. The ABS is a safety feature in your Dodge that regulates the braking pressure when you brake suddenly to prevent the brakes from locking up and stopping the vehicle at a short distance. Determining and fixing the problem immediately is important to ensure your safety, especially during emergencies and bad weather conditions.
These are the common symptoms when your Dodge malfunctions within the Anti-lock Braking System.
- ABS Warning Light – Stays ON
- Traction Control System Light – Stays ON
- ABS and BRAKE – Warning light turning on at 40mph
- ABS, TRC, ESP, and Brake Warning Light – May simultaneously turn ON
- Speedometer Not Working – The speedometer is not working while driving
- Reduced Braking Performance – Brakes feel hard and difficult to press.
- Service Antilock Brake System– Warning message on instrument cluster at startup.
The most common reason why Dodge ABS lights along with traction control lights come on is due to a faulty ABS wheel speed sensor which is easy to replace and can be completed in less than one hour. First, let’s take a look at a common problem that triggers ABS lights on Dodge vehicles and pickup trucks, and vans, and then we will take a look at how to read the codes with a good scanner to find out exactly what is wrong.
Faulty ABS Wheel Speed Sensor
The wheel speed sensor is an important part of the Anti-lock Braking System in Dodge RAM, Durango, Caravan, and many more models. With the wheel speed sensor, the ABS control module monitors each wheel’s speed. The signal then determines if any wheels lock up during sudden braking, especially on slippery roads.
When one of the wheel speed sensors is defective, it may not send the correct signals to the ABS control module. This could result in the ABS system getting disabled and the ABS and TCS lights turning on. It is commonly located on the hub of each wheel, so it is prone to the build-up of dirt and debris. This could lead to the wrong signal being sent to the ABS module. A simple cleaning of the ABS sensors may fix the issue.
ABS Control Module Malfunction
The ABS control module is the brain of the Anti-lock Braking System. It is responsible for monitoring the wheel speed and regulating the braking pressure to reduce the stopping distance in case of sudden braking.
If the ABS control module fails, it cannot properly receive and process the signals from the wheel speed sensors and other sensors. This can result in the ABS braking or pulsating randomly during driving or even failing to activate during hard braking. Another indication that the module has a failure is when the speedometer is not working when the ABS light is on. The possible fault code for this is U0121 – loss of communication to ABS. Another possible fault code is the C2116 – Pump supply low voltage. This is common in Dodge RAM 1500.
A common cause of faulty ABS control modules is exposure to moisture resulting in short circuits inside its main components. It is commonly located inside the engine bay and is exposed to extreme temperatures, which can cause its protective seals to wear out over time.
Broken Brake Light Switch
The ABS relies on the brake light switch to detect if the driver is applying the brakes. If the brake light switch is faulty, it may send wrong signals that can cause sudden braking while driving. Other symptoms include both ABS and BRAKE warning lights turning on when the vehicle reaches 40mph. This is common in Dodge Ram (1994-2001) models.
Damaged or Dirty Wires and Connectors
Wires and connectors in the Anti-lock Braking System are prone to damage and dirt buildup due to their location under the vehicle. These could cause a poor connection between the sensors and the ABS control module.
The wheel speed sensor wires and connectors are exposed to harsh road conditions. Vibration and road debris can damage or even cut the wires resulting in a loss of communication between the sensor to the control module. In other cases, Animals like rodents and dogs chew on the sensor wires. A common fault code for this is C0037-1D Left Rear Wheel Speed Sensor – Circuit Current Out of Range and C003A-1D Right Rear Wheel Speed Sensor – Circuit Current Out of Range.
Damaged and exposed wires of the speed sensors can cause a short circuit and damage the ABS control module. It can also send wrong signals to the control module that will cause the ABS to malfunction and turn the ABS light on.
Blown Fuse or Bad Relay
The ABS fuse is the first defense of the Anti-lock Braking System from the sudden power surge that can damage the ABS control module. It is designed to blow and disconnect the entire ABS from the problem. A short circuit is present within the system when a fuse is blown. It can be from an exposed sensor wire touching together or a short circuit inside the ABS control module main board. It also limits the entire ABS from getting power from the battery, causing a malfunction and turning on the ABS light. It is important to know first the reason what is the cause of the blown fuse to avoid the problem from reoccurring.
Brake Fluid is Low
The Anti-lock Braking System is designed to work together with the brake system. It regulates and monitors the brake hydraulic pressure exerted when the driver applies the brakes. If the brake fluid level falls below a certain level, it can make the brakes less effective and allow air inside the brake lines. This can result in poor braking performance and the ABS not working during sudden braking, turning the ABS light on.
Low brake fluid can result from a system leak and worn-out brake pads. It is important to determine the problem’s cause to avoid accidents while driving.
Is your ABS pump running constantly even when the car is turned off causing the battery to drain? The ABS module may fail causing problems with the ABS pump running constantly, the ABS light stays on when the car is parked, which leads to draining the battery. A temporary fix to prevent battery drain is to remove the ABS fuse to prevent the ABS motor from burning out or draining the battery when the car is parked.
VEHICLES LISTED BELOW, equipped with a 1998+ Kelsey Hayes ABS control module are known to be affected by this failure:
- Dodge Kelsey Hayes 125 RWAL (Rear Wheel Anti-Lock)
- 1998 – 2004 Dodge DAKOTA
- 1999 – 2003 Dodge DURANGO
- 1998 – 2008 Dodge RAM
- 1998 – 2008 Dodge VAN
The Kelsey Hayes 325 ABS module may be the root of the issue if the ABS pump is constantly running or if a C0265 or 65 diagnostic trouble code is generated upon scanning the vehicle for errors. However, an illuminated ABS or BRAKE light on the dashboard doesn’t necessarily indicate a faulty ABS module. The C0265 diagnostic trouble code or the continuous operation of the pump are two giveaway symptoms of the ABS module. If the ABS pump doesn’t stop running, we advise identifying the ABS pump fuse and removing it to safeguard the pump from potential burnout. This fuse is typically found in the fuse panel located under the hood in the engine compartment and is usually a 50A fuse in most Dodge vehicles.
A loose battery terminal can also lead to the ABS light coming on and staying on or flickering. Check the battery terminals and clean them if necessary.
Steering Angle Sensor
Usually, once you disconnect the battery or the battery dies, the steering angle sensor which is installed in the steering column behind the steering wheel will lose its calibration. If this is your problem, start the car and turn the steering wheel full left then full right a couple of times and this simple procedure should reset the steering sensor. If this procedure doesn’t work, you can utilize the YOUCANIC scanner to perform steering angle sensor (SAS) calibration which is found under Maintenance functions.
Low tire pressure or different tire sizes can also cause your ABS light to turn on. The wheel’s circumference decreases with low pressure, causing it to move slower than other tires. The wheel speed sensor can detect the change in wheel speed, causing the ABS to activate. Maintaining the correct tire pressure when using your Dodge is important to avoid driving problems.
Software Issues & Recalls
In some Dodge vehicles, the ABS light may illuminate due to software complications within the stability control module. To address this issue, dealers will provide an ABS control module software update at no cost to the vehicle owners. The company anticipates sending out notification letters to owners on April 29th, 2022. If owners have any queries or need further assistance, they are encouraged to reach out to FCA US, LLC customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Please refer to recall number Z20 or safety recall F05 when contacting FCA US, LLC regarding this matter. Check if your Dodge is part of a recall here.
How to fix and reset the Dodge ABS light
When Diagnosing a Dodge Ram, Charger, Challenger, Grand Caravan, and many more Dodge models, It is important to do a basic troubleshooting that includes checking the brake fluid level, inspecting the brake pads and rotors, correcting the tire pressure, and looking for damage in the wiring and connectors. But when the problem still exists, an advanced scanner that can scan ABS is needed to know if any codes are present, just like the YOUCANIC scanner. This device can read and clear trouble codes, providing detailed information about the specific issue with your ABS system. With this information, you can take the needed steps to fix the problem.
- 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.
- 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 make and model of your vehicle.
- Once the scanner is on, select “Diagnostics” from the main menu.
- 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, then 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 Warning light on?
It is not recommended to drive with the ABS warning light on. When the ABS warning light is on, it means that there is an issue with the ABS. The ABS is a critical safety feature that helps prevent skidding and loss of control during hard braking or slippery road surfaces. If the ABS is not functioning properly, it may be unable to prevent skidding or loss of control in an emergency, which can increase the risk of an accident.
Will my brakes stop working properly if the ABS light is on?
If the ABS (Anti-lock Brake System) light is on, it does not necessarily mean that your brakes will stop working, but it could affect their performance. The ABS is designed to prevent the wheels from locking up during hard braking, which can cause the vehicle to skid and lose control.
How can I prevent the ABS light from coming on in my Dodge?
Regular maintenance and inspection of the brake system, safe driving habits, addressing issues promptly, and using high-quality brake components can help prevent the ABS light from coming on in the first place, ensuring the proper functioning of the ABS and your safety on the road.
Why did my Dodge Ram 1500 ABS light turn on after I replaced my tires at a tire dealer?
One possible reason is that the wheel speed sensors may have been damaged or not reinstalled correctly during the tire replacement process. The wheel speed sensors are critical components of the ABS that provide the vehicle’s speed and direction information to the ABS module. If they are not installed correctly or are damaged, the ABS may not function correctly, causing the ABS light to turn on.
How long can I drive with the ABS light on in my Dodge?
Driving the vehicle with the ABS light on for an extended period can cause further damage to the brake system and the ABS, resulting in costly repairs. It is recommended to resolve the issues as soon as possible with the brake system and inspect the vehicle regularly to ensure its proper functioning and safety on the road.
Here are the common fault codes if the ABS light is on in a Dodge vehicle:
- C2216 – Pump motor fault/Pump supply low voltage
- U0121 – Lost communication with ABS module
- C0110 – Pump Motor Circuit Malfunction
- C0267 – Pump Motor Circuit Open/Shorted
- U1417 – LH front wheel, distance traveled -implausible signal
- U1418 – RH front wheel, distance traveled implausible signal
- C101F – Right Front Wheel Speed Sensor Circuit Range/Performance
- C101D – Left Front Wheel Speed Sensor Circuit Range/Performance
- C0037-1D – Left Rear Wheel Speed Sensor – Circuit Current Out of Range
- C003A-1D – Right Rear Wheel Speed Sensor – Circuit Current Out of Range
- C101A – Right Front Wheel Speed Sensor Circuit
- C1015 – Left Rear Wheel Speed Sensor Circuit
- C2205 – Antilock Brake System Internal Shutdown Relay Circuit