Symptoms of A Bad ABS Control Module & How To Replace?

The ABS control module or anti-lock braking system module is a highly important vehicle safety feature you can find on virtually all modern vehicles.

The primary purpose of this module is to keep your wheels from locking up when you’re cruising on the road. Over time, it can fail due to some reasons.

Here are the symptoms of bad ABS control module and how to replace it.

The Importance Of An ABS Control Module

When you come to think of it, the ABS control module is actually the most vital part of your vehicle because it can save your life.

When you suddenly press the brakes due to an emergency, the ABS control module functions to maintain road traction.

That means no crash or potential accidents because you still have total control over your car.

A fully functional ABS control module is your only way of surviving on tough weather conditions and challenging terrains. Bottom line – the ABS control module makes sure you are safe and secure on the road.

Symptoms Of A Bad ABS Control Module

One of the most ill-fated vehicle scenarios is finding out a bad ABS control module. What makes the situation hazardous is that most symptoms can only be identified while you are on the road.

Once you experience any of these symptoms, you can fairly diagnose your vehicle with a bad ABS control module. When that happens, call for a professional assistance right away.

Refer: Symptoms Of A Bad Electronic Brake Control Module

1. Resistive Brake Pads

A clear indication of a failing ABS control module is when it takes you more effort to push the brake pads.

The brake pedal should need quite a little effort to push if all the braking system components are functioning properly. Otherwise, it’s pretty obvious you have a problem underneath.

The brake pedals must be fairly easy to press down. Once pressed, you must feel an immediate decrease in speed as a noticeable effect.

When you observe your brake pads require more effort to push (than it is before) to achieve the same braking intensity, then you have potential ABS module issues. 

Refer: Best Brake Pads

2. Unresponsive Brake Pedal

Resistive brake pads are probably the least of your problems. Worse symptoms include a brake pedal that is in unresponsive at all. The brake pedal may become passive to the commands sent to it when the ABS module fails.

This also depends on the model of the vehicle. But one thing’s for sure – this is clearly a huge problem. An unresponsive brake pedal will cause the vehicle to continue on running. It can’t either stop your car or do so in a safe approach.

However, you don’t need to worry about cruising at a hundred miles per hour then suddenly realizing you can’t access your brakes.

Before going to that point, you will be notified with some minor problems first like the first symptom – resistive brake pads. When that happens, that’s your opportunity to fix things up, allowing you to prevent grave scenarios from happening.

Do not let worse symptoms like this one to manifest.

3. Brake Locks Up

You can also observe some erratic behaviors acted by your ABS system. For instance, a faulty ABS module can cause your brakes to lock up even on normal driving conditions.

On the flip side, a properly functioning ABS module keeps the wheels from locking up when the user attempts heavy braking, prohibiting traction loss.

Otherwise, the vehicle’s brakes will lock up as a form of a sporadic behavior caused by a failing ABS module.

More warning signs associated with this symptom include brake pumping and random clicking noises from the brakes.

Refer: Best Brake Rotors

4. ABS Light Turns On

Nothing comes more obvious with this symptom. The ABS Light works like your Check Engine Light but it only works exclusively for your ABS module.

The ABS Light turns on to notify you of a problem related to that specific module. The light shows an amber color. 

One downside, however, is that ABS Light apparently exists only on newer car models.

There are older vehicles equipped with ABS systems but don’t have ABS Light on them. But they are usually connected to the Check Engine Light as an alternative.

So if you have an older car model, you may be notified of a faulty ABS module through the Check Engine Light.

5. Failing Speedometer

The last symptom of an ABS control module is a failing speedometer which is pretty rare.

There are unusual cases wherein your speedometer on the dashboard suddenly stops working, which turned out to be the corresponding result of a failing ABS module. 

You will either have your speedometer needle resting at zero or it will show an incorrect speed. This symptom is associated with your Check Engine Light or ABS Light turning on.

Have a professional mechanic check your car right away. A highly unstable speedometer is enough reason to have your vehicle diagnosed.

Refer: How To Calibrate A Speedometer

How Much Does An ABS Control Module Replacement Costs?

Depending on your make and model, an ABS control module replacement is not entirely cheap. You will really spend a bit of fortune here. However, no price is expensive enough when it comes to your safety.

A replacement typically ranges from around $330 up to $1100 or a bit more. These approximate values is not the final figure yet. You will have to deal with taxes and some additional fees the dealer deemed necessary. 

The cost climbs up if you’ll hire a mechanic to do it. Additional factor will include the type of car that you have which is the crucial factor the mechanic will consider in how much he’ll charge for the job.

A professional mechanic’s labor fee will range from about $90 to $110. And for the additional parts, it will cost you around $240 to $990, depending again on your car model. Adding them will lead you to the approximate values above.

What Are The Parts Of An ABS module?

An ABS control module is typically composed of three components. The first one is the pump motor responsible of building pressure in the brake lines which the system utilizes in times of braking scenarios.

Another component is the brake line block. Lastly, an ABS has an electrical module composed of electrical solenoids.

The different components of an ABS module is what makes replacing it a really daunting procedure. But if you are a die-hard fan of DIY projects, then you’ll surely up to the challenge.

How To Replace an ABS Control Module?

If you’re confident enough, you can handle the situation by yourself. When you spot a symptom, head safely back to your garage and replace the ABS control module.

Be warned first, replacing the ABS Control Module is not the easiest task but it’s quite fulfilling when you’re able to do it.

Preliminary Notes:

  • Once everything is installed, the ABS module will need to be programmed. This procedure depends on your model. So refer to your manufacturer’s instructions for the programming procedure.
  • The process of ABS module replacement across different car models are virtually the same. The only difference is the necessity of brake line removal. Not all models require the brake lines to be removed.
  • Depending on the location and design of your ABS unit, you will have to replace the module along with the solenoid block. There are also times when it’s not required.

We will divide the steps into six (6) stages and each stage have sub-steps for a more comprehensive instructions.

Stage 1 - Find the ABS Module

You will need: Ratchet, Line Wrenches, Socket Set, and Scan Tool

  1. Turn off your engine. Allow the engine to cool down and let heat dissipate before starting.
  2. Get your manufacturer’s manual and find out where you can locate the ABS module specific to your vehicle. The manual usually has figures and images with an arrow pointing to the particular spot where you can find the module. If not, look for a written description.
  3. Open your hood and identify the module – sometimes it’s easy to spot the ABS module because it has multiple metal brake lines connected to it.
  4. You’ll find out the module is bolted to the solenoid block. Depending on your manufacturer’s instruction, you may or may not need to separate the block and the module. There are models where you need to remove the solenoid block and module simultaneously.
  5. You may have to remove some components, panels, and even some plastic covers first before finally finding the ABS module.

Stage 2 - Remove the ABS module alone (without the solenoid block)

Note: When your model needs removal of only the ABS module, continue reading below. If your manufacturer says the module and solenoid block must come together, skip to stage 3.

Read your manufacturer’s instructions again and look for a description related to removing the ABS module.

Remember, some models allow you to remove the ABS module alone while some units require you to take away the ABS module along with the solenoid block as a single unit.

The instructions below tell you how to remove the ABS module alone:

1.Detach the electrical connector away from the module.

The connector is typically large and has some kind of a retaining mechanism. Each manufacturer may use a different mechanism when retaining the connector.

2.Remove the module using a screw driver (preferably flat head).

There are bolts that secure the module to the solenoid block. Remove the said bolts and carefully pry the module away from the block.

Note: Move straight to Stage 4 after this stage. 

Stage 3 – Remove the ABS module and the solenoid block as one unit

1. ​​​​Release the pressure on the brake line.

There is no universal instruction on how to release brake line pressure as it depends on the model of your vehicle. Refer to your manual and figure out the specific methods on how to release the line pressure of your car. 

2. Detach the electrical connector away from the module.

Remember the guidelines stated on the step 1 of stage 2. Reminder: Don’t forget to put some markings on before you remove the connectors. This is to prevent confusion when you finally reconnect them later.

3. Take away the brake lines from the module. 

Determine the proper line wrench size you need to safely remove the brake lines without damaging them. Pull up the lines once you’ve finished unthreaded them.

4. Remove (simultaneously) the ABS module and solenoid block

The configuration may differ depending on your make and model but one thing’s certain – just unbolt whatever bolt or bracket secures the module and solenoid block.

5. Now separate the ABS module and the solenoid block using a screw driver (preferably flat head).

There are bolts that attaches the module to the solenoid block. Remove them. After which, gently pry the module away from the block.

Stage 4 - Install the new ABS module to the solenoid block and into the car

Installing the new ABS module is like reverse-engineering what you have done in the previous stages. 

1. Attach the new module onto the solenoid block.

Note: Do this step only if the new module is supplied separately from the solenoid block. Head straight to step 2 if it’s not the case

Do this gently and carefully. It’s important NOT to force the module to slide onto the solenoid block. It must attach smoothly.

Otherwise you’re doing it wrong. If that’s the case, remove the ABS module and take a close look. You’ll figure it out eventually.

2. Install the ABS unit onto your car

Bolt the unit into the car carefully. Make sure the alignment of the brake lines are correct.

3. Using your hands, start threading the bolts and the brake lines

Start threading the bolts by hand before you tight them. Make sure the bolts are snug before you finally apply the right torque. 

4. Torque the brake lines

Ensure that you tighten the brake lines. When you tighten the brake lines, the flare end must be firmly seated.

This is a little bit tricky sometimes. If that’s the case, take a closer look at the flared end. Make sure you do this step properly.

5.Now attach the electrical connector

Simply push the electrical connector. Firmly attach the connector through the locking mechanism. Make sure it’s secured to the module.

6.Program the new module if necessary.

Refer to your manufacturer’s manual and see if there’s a need to program the new module. If you’re lucky enough, you won’t have to program it.

But if it’s necessary, there must be a set of instructions in your manual to assist you in programming.

Stage 5 – Bleed The Brake Lines

In most cases, you need to bleed the brake lines. Refer to your manual when doing this process as this can differ from different car models.

Conclusion

You just learned the symptoms of bad ABS control module and how to replace it.

Noticing the symptoms are fairly easy.

However, the tricky part is replacing the control module. It’s surely a complicated process. If you’re not confident enough that you can do it on your own, you can always call a professional car mechanic to do it.

If not, you can always take the challenge of trying to do-it-yourself the process.

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