Troubleshooting Honda ABS Light On, ACC, Traction Control Malfunction
Are you noticing dashboard warnings suddenly lit up your Honda dashboard like Christmas lights? Are you worried and don’t know the meaning of those lights, especially the ABS light? You came to the right place, and this article will help you decipher the meaning of those lights. From faulty ABS wheel speed sensors to low tire pressure, we’ll break it down for you to know what is wrong with your Honda. The video below shows how to use the YOUCANIC scanner to reset the ABS, Adaptive Crusie Control (ACC) light, traction control light, and Drive Carefully Systems warning, which can come on when disconnecting the battery and the steering angle sensor must be calibrated.
What does the ABS light mean on a Honda?
The Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) on your Honda Civic, Pilot, Accord, CR-V, and other models regulates the brake pressure during sudden or hard braking to decrease the stopping distance and prevent accidents. The ABS uses sensors to monitor wheel speed, the direction of the turn, and many more to operate. When the ABS light turns on, it is usually accompanied by a Traction control and brake warning light, which means that the ABS detects an issue or malfunction. This also means that the ABS is temporarily disabled until the issue is resolved or fixed. It is important to address the ABS light immediately to ensure safety while driving, especially in slippery road conditions.
- ABS Light – always on
- LKAS light stays on – Lane Keeping Assist System – LKAS (Lane Keeping Assist System) helps keep your car centered in a lane, but it requires driving speeds between 45 and 90mph, making it ideal for highways with light traffic. The technology is limited to relatively straight roads, disengaging when the road curves too much. It’s crucial to remain alert and not rely on it as autopilot. The system prompts you to steer every 15 seconds, and if it doesn’t detect your input, LKAS will deactivate. Simply touch and steer the wheel slightly to reactivate LKAS.
- ACC light stays on – Adaptive Cruise Control – Adaptive Cruise Control is an advanced version of regular cruise control that adjusts your speed based on the vehicle ahead following its speed. The distance maintained depends on your settings, controlled by the button on your steering wheel. It’s especially useful in stop-and-go traffic, where you can activate ACC, set the minimum speed at 25mph, and let it handle the rest. When the lead car stops, it stops, and when it moves again, ACC accelerates and adjusts speed accordingly, up to 25mph. You can set a faster speed, and ACC will adapt. If the car stops for too long, a tap on the gas pedal gets it moving again. This feature significantly reduces exhaustion during traffic, allowing for a more enjoyable commute and audiobook experience.
- ABS VSA TSC Brake – Simultaneously lights up.
- Unresponsive Brake Pedal – A spongy or unresponsive while braking.
- Brakes Locking Up – ABS is disabled, causing the brakes to lockup.
The most common cause of the ABS light turning on in your Honda is the ABS wheel speed sensor. This cheap part can cost around $30 and takes around 30 mins to replace. Other common causes are the defective ABS module, faulty steering angle sensor, low brake fluid, a weak battery, and many more.
Faulty ABS Wheel Speed Sensor
The ABS wheel speed sensor monitors each wheel’s wheel speed. The ABS module uses this information to apply the necessary braking force during sudden or emergency braking to prevent the brakes from locking up.
When one or more wheel speed sensor is faulty, the ABS module detects this and turns on the ABS light. A faulty sensor can also send inaccurate signals that activate the ABS randomly. Many factors can cause the wheel speed sensor to fail. Dirt and debris can accumulate on the sensor, making the signal incorrect. A simple cleaning can sometimes fix the issue.
Malfunctioning ABS Control Module
The ABS control module is the entire anti-lock brake system (ABS) brain. It is responsible for monitoring the wheel speed of each wheel. It also regulates the hydraulic pressure to provide the needed braking force to prevent the brakes from locking up in case of sudden braking.
A short circuit inside the module can cause the control module to malfunction. This may be caused by leaking brake fluid inside the module or even a faulty seal that allows moisture to enter. A malfunctioning ABS control module will turn the ABS light on and disable the ABS.
Defective Steering Angle Sensor (SAS)
The steering angle sensor is important in the ABS and the Traction Control System (TRC). It tells the ABS module where the vehicle turns to correctly regulate the braking pressure to prevent the wheels from locking up. If the SAS is faulty, It might send inaccurate signals to the ABS module and engage the ABS randomly while driving. This can turn the abs light on. It is good to check the steering angle sensor when both ABS and TRC warning lights are present.
Wrong Orientation of the Wheel Bearing
If you recently replaced your wheel bearing and the ABS light suddenly lit up, it may be because the wheel bearing was installed incorrectly. The wheel bearing has a magnetic side that is important to line up with the speed sensor. The speed sensor uses it to detect the speed of each wheel.
When the wheel bearing is installed incorrectly, the speed sensor cannot detect the wheel’s speed and can turn the ABS light on. The black or gray marking on the side cover can indicate the magnetic encoder ring on the wheel bearing.
Here are some examples of Honda models that use wheel bearings with magnetic encoder rings:
- Honda CR-V (2002 – 2016)
- Honda Element (2003 – 2011)
- Honda Civic (2006 – 2015)
- Honda Accord (2003 – 2007)
- Honda Ridgeline (2006 – 2014)
- Honda Odyssey (2005 – 2010)
- Honda Fit (2007 – 2014)
The battery is responsible for providing the needed voltage for the ABS to work properly. The ABS light may turn on if the battery provides a lower voltage. It can also make the signals being sent by the sensors inaccurate.
Corrosion, a blue or green powder, on the battery terminal can reduce the battery’s power being sent to the ABS. This can be easily resolved by pouring hot water on the terminals until the corrosion dissolves.
The wires of the ABS are mostly located under the vehicle. It can be easily damaged by dirt, debris, or it can rub onto the wheels. A damaged wire can transmit incorrect data that can be detected by the ABS module, thus turning on the ABS light.
Vibration from the road surface and the engine can make the connectors lose, thus disconnecting them from the ABS module. Weather can also affect the damage to the wires and connectors. It can wear it out and damage it. Also, exposed wires can touch and cause a short circuit that can damage the control module.
A blown fuse can disconnect the entire anti-lock brake system (ABS) from the battery. This safety feature protects the ABS from a power surge that can ruin the ABS control module. Fuse brakes because of a short circuit in the system that causes a power surge. It is important to locate the problem to avoid blowing a new fuse.
Low Brake Fluid Level
The ABS pump uses brake fluid to regulate the braking pressure. If the brake fluid level is low, the ABS cannot function correctly and may not engage when a sudden brake occurs. The most common problem is that the red BRAKE light stays on. Pull over immediately and check the brake fluid level. Do not drive with the BRAKE light on.
Worn-out brake pads and a leak in the system cause low brake fluid levels. It is important to know the cause of the problem and fix it immediately to avoid losing the brake while driving. It can also cause air to enter the brake lines and cause a spongy or unresponsive brake pedal. A common fault code is C0128 – Low Brake Fluid (Circuit Low).
Low Tire Pressure
Low tire pressure can turn on the ABS light. A low-pressure tire’s circumference decreases, affecting the wheel’s speed. This is then detected by the speed sensor and turning the ABS light on. The ABS light is usually accompanied by the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) warning light. Maintaining the recommended tire pressure to ensure safety while driving is important.
- Locate the OBD-II port under the dashboard and plug in your adapter.
- Power on the Youcanic scanner: Press the power button until the device turns on.
- Go to the ‘Diagnose’ option: On the scanner’s main menu, select the ‘Diagnose’ option.
- Select the Vehicle Make: You will see a list of vehicle makes. Scroll through the list until you find your vehicle’s make, then select it.
- Select ‘Control Units’: The next screen will display different options after selecting the make.
- Find and select the ‘Control Units’ option.
- Select ‘Airbag/SRS Control Unit’: The next screen will show a list of various control units.
- Scroll down until you select the ‘Airbag/SRS Control Unit’.
- Read or Clear codes: Here, you can ‘Read codes’ or ‘Clear codes.’ To read the airbag codes, select ‘Read codes.’ The scanner will then display any stored airbag codes.
- To clear the airbag codes, select ‘Clear codes.’ Follow any prompts that appear to clear the codes. Please note only clear codes after the problem has been fixed. Clearing the codes without fixing the problem may cause the codes to reappear.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to drive with the ABS light on?
While it is possible to drive with the ABS light on, it is not recommended to do so for an extended period. When the ABS light is on, the Anti-lock Braking System is not functioning correctly, and the system may not work as intended in an emergency braking situation.
Without the ABS, the wheels can lock up during hard braking, causing the vehicle to skid or slide, resulting in loss of control and a potential accident. In addition, other safety features, such as electronic stability control, may also be affected. It is better to determine and fix the problem as soon as possible.
Can I Ignore These Warning Lights?
No, ignoring the ABS and VSA warning lights would be best. These lights indicate a problem with your vehicle’s anti-lock braking system (ABS) or vehicle stability assist (VSA) system. If you ignore these lights, you could be putting yourself and others at risk.
What should I do if the ABS control module is not working?
A malfunctioning ABS control module can cause the ABS light to turn on and compromise the vehicle’s safety, especially in slippery or wet road conditions. If you suspect the ABS control module is not working, it’s important to have it diagnosed and fix the problem as soon as possible.
Why won’t my sliding door open when I have the ABS light on?
Your car’s doors are designed to stay closed while you’re driving. But if your anti-lock braking system (ABS) isn’t working, the computer that controls the doors can’t tell if you’re moving. So it automatically turns off the doors’ locking mechanism.
This is a safety feature. If your ABS isn’t working, it’s possible that your brakes won’t work as well as they should. If you were to get into an accident, the doors might not be able to lock properly, which could allow people to get hurt.