You see the ABS warning light on the dashboard. What do you do? It could be something serious, so you have to find out why. Before you get too worried though, know that sometimes your ABS wheel sensor can get a dirt buildup, causing it to trigger the ABS dash warning light. In some vehicles, this sensor can also trigger alerts concerning anti-skid or traction control warnings.
This is a very important sensor and you need to make sure it is kept at least fairly clean to ensure its proper function. A great time to do this is when you are replacing your brake pads and you already have the wheels off. With the wheels off, getting your sensor cleaned up will only take around 10 minutes or so.
Prepare for Cleaning Your ABS Wheel Sensor
It is always better to gather everything you need before starting on a job. You will need to gather the following tools for the job:
• Jack stands
• Ratchet wrench and sockets
• Ratchet extension
• A durable work rag
Mechanic’s Safety Tip: NEVER work on any car that is only supported by a jack! ALWAYS use jack stands!
Removing your Wheel
With the car still on the ground, start by loosening the wheel lugs. Doing this while on the ground is not only safer, but it provides better leverage as well. Now you can jack the front of the car up and then rest it on jack stands. Be sure that the stands are secure. With the car safely elevated and secured, remove the wheel lugs and take your front wheels off.
Now that your wheel has been removed you can turn the steering wheel all the way to the inside, opposite of the side you will be working on. Doing this will provide you easier, better access to the ABS parts you will need to reach.
Removing your Wheel Sensor
Find your ABS wheel sensor and remove the bolts holding it down to the suspension. In order to pull the sensor out enough to clean it, you may also need to remove some bolts securing the wiring to the auto suspension or frame. Trace the wiring to make sure it isn’t bolted down elsewhere before you start trying to pull it free. There will also be another two 10mm bolts that must be removed. Simply follow your ABS sensor line to locate and remove them. With everything undone, you should be able to gently pull the sensor free and away far enough to adequately clean it.
How to Clean Your ABS Sensor
This is the easy part of this auto repair task. Use your durable work rag to wipe at the sensor until it comes clean. Since you want to be sure that you do not cause any other problems with the sensor, I suggest you steer clear of using any types of chemicals or cleaners. If your grime build up is significant you can use a mild sop solution to help break it down. Be sure to rinse it off well too. Take care to not let the sensor hit anything accidentally while you’re cleaning it. While it is pretty tough, one good whack and it can be damaged irreversibly.
Finishing Up your Auto Job
With the ABS wheel sensor now clean you will have to reinstall it. To do that, just retrace your steps backwards, reinstalling each part exactly like you removed it. Do not forget to reattach the wires to the mounting points along the way. Failing to do so could result in costly damages later.
Mechanic’s Note: Your ABS warning light may not turn off as soon as you’ve cleaned it. Sometimes it can even take a few days before the system reanalyzes itself and reset.
If you are ever uncomfortable with working on your auto or a particular repair, don’t do it. You should never proceed with a repair you do not feel secure in performing safely and correctly. Our auto repair shop in Columbia, SC would be glad to take a look and see what we can do for you. If you are in the greater Columbia area, call today to schedule your auto repair or other auto service.