Is It Safe to Drive My Car With the ABS Light On Full Answer

Is it safe to drive my car with the ABS light on crosses many people’s minds when faced with the problem for the first time. You can go since your brakes will still function, but you must be extra careful to avoid losing control of the vehicle under heavy braking due to the wheels locking up.

Driving Car With the ABS Light On

Your safety is critical, so check the detailed answer below to make an informed decision. We will also discuss common triggers of ABS problems and how to fix them.

Is It Okay To Drive a Car With the ABS Warning Light On?

It is okay to drive a car with the ABS warning light on since your regular brakes will still work. However, drive defensively because, with the ABS malfunctioning, your vehicle can quickly lose control in case of panic braking. A mechanic should check your car as soon as possible.

Many have asked, why is my ABS light on? When you switch on the engine, the ABS light may also turn on automatically. Your car’s computer (Engine Control Unit, ECU) quickly checks the ABS system upon the engine’s start. If no mechanical issues are identified, the light will turn off after a few seconds.

But if the light stays on, it shows your anti-lock brakes have a problem. Note that the ABS light can also illuminate while you are driving. So, are you safe to drive or continue driving with the light on? As mentioned, you can drive the car because your brakes are still functional.

How long can I drive with ABS light on? It would help if you didn’t go far, particularly on a busy highway, because your ABS probably may not respond in case of emergency braking. Others have asked, can you drive with ABS and traction light on? Yes, you can still drive your car if the red main braking warning light is not on.

However, you must be cautious, driving slowly and avoiding aggressive braking to prevent an accident. Note that the ABS and traction systems usually share the same module. As such, an issue with one mechanism is likely to be displayed by light for both.

When Not Safe to Drive and What To Do

Is it safe to drive with ABS and brake light on? No, if both the warning lights are on, it’s a sign of a more severe problem. It means your main brakes aren’t working correctly and can fail and be unable to bring the vehicle to a stop. That’s a risk you don’t want to take.

Turning Off Abs Light

If it happens while behind the wheel, stop the vehicle immediately in a safe place and be extra careful with the brakes. Once you’ve safely stopped, contact a mechanic or nearby workshop to check the car.

To know how to turn off ABS light, you can try to restart the vehicle. Restarting the engine allows the ECU to recheck all the sensors for abnormalities or damage within the ABS. If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to contact an expert to diagnose and fix the issue.

Possible Triggers of the ABS Light and How To Fix

Your car’s anti-lock brakes system is a wear-and-tear item. As such, it will naturally deteriorate over time due to age and mileage. When that happens, the warning light will illuminate to notify you that it’s time to do a replacement. In addition to wear and tear, several other factors can trigger the ABS warning light, as you’ll discover below:

A Dead Fuse

Your ABS uses electricity to function; like any other car component, it’s equipped with a fuse. Fuses can blow up at any time without warning. As mentioned, the ABS light indicates a malfunction within the system, including a blown fuse.

So, when the light comes on, ensure the ABS fuse isn’t blown before inspecting other parts in the vehicle. The fuse is usually located in the fuse box in the engine bay. You can use a test light to check the fuse and replace it if it’s burnt.

A Fault in the Wiring

The wires connecting the ABS to the car battery can wear out or get damaged over time. When that occurs, the ABS will be left without power to function, triggering the light. Similarly, a weak battery can cause the light to come on.

Faulty Wiring in Car

Thus, the next thing to check after the fuse should be the battery, wires, and electrical connectors to ensure they work as intended. If a dying battery has triggered the issue, you can easily find out because other systems, such as the headlights and interior lights, will behave erratically. To prevent wiring problems from happening in the future, have your car checked regularly.

Inadequate Hydraulic (Brake) Fluid

A low brake fluid level is a common trigger of the anti-lock braking system light. The fluid is a critical component of your braking system. It helps to control the brake pressure in the ABS. Also, your hydraulic brake system enables you to stop the car by using the fluid to transfer force to the brake pads, which then grip the brake rotors.

Without the necessary fluid, the system will lack the pressure to stop the car. Low brake fluid levels can result from a leak in the braking system or simply because a top-up is needed. Either way, a lack of proper fluid will interfere with the proper functioning of your ABS and the entire braking system.

Detecting a low-fluid problem in your brake is easy by being a little more attentive. When the levels are down, your brakes will likely be less responsive, increasing your stopping distance. You may also notice a grinding or scraping sound, similar to what worn brake pads produce. The solution to the annoying anti-lock braking system light is to ensure that your vehicle always has the right hydraulic fluid amounts.

Damaged pads could also deplete your hydraulic fluid, triggering your ABS and the main brake’s light. Thus, as you top up the fluid, check the pads’ condition and replace them if necessary.

Failing Sensors

The ABS uses sensors to monitor and maintain the wheel rotation or speed. If there’s a problem with one or more sensors, the ABS light will illuminate the dashboard to alert you. In addition to the ABS light coming on, there are other common symptoms of faulty wheel speed sensors. They include an illuminated traction control light, the vehicle taking longer to stop or losing traction, particularly when braking hard.

Wheel Speed Sensors

What causes the ABS light to come on and go off?. A bad ABS sensor is one of the most common triggers. The sensor often goes bad due to dirt and grime build-up on the sensor. To know how to fix ABS light on car, you’ll need to clean the affected sensor, but in some cases, a replacement may be necessary.

Failing Control Module

The module is the ABS’s brain. Without it, the system won’t know when to engage and the amount of pressure to apply. Thus, a malfunctioning ABS module will undoubtedly cause the light to illuminate, and it’s usually a serious issue that requires expert assistance. The cause of the malfunction could be corrosion, preventing the system from receiving data from the sensors attached to the car tires.

There are tell-tale signs you should watch out for to know you have a faulty ABS module. One is that your brake pedal may progressively become less responsive, meaning you must press it harder for the car to stop. The check engine light can also come on because an abnormality in the ABS can be recorded in the ECU. You may notice a cracking or clicking sound when pressing the brakes, like in case of insufficient hydraulic fluid.

As the problem progresses, the brakes begin locking up during everyday driving. As mentioned, you’ll need an expert to fix this problem, and it should be as soon as possible.

Bad Hydraulic Pump

The pump helps to push brake fluid through the master cylinder, where it’s distributed to the brakes. Your vehicle’s ABS controls the wheel speed through the hydraulic brake system. If one or more car tires move at different speeds than the others, the ABS will receive signals from the sensors. It will then trigger the pump to increase the fluid pressure to ensure a balanced speed across the tires and maintain traction on the road surface.

However, if the pump malfunctions, the ABS will fail its job, leading to illuminated ABS warning light. The pump wears over time but can be damaged by metal shavings or dirt in the hydraulic fluid. A malfunctioning pump will likely cause an inconsistent braking performance, hydraulic fluid leaking from the firewall in the engine bay or master cylinder.

Bad Hydraulic Pump

The solution may be to replace the pump, which a professional best does. Once the pump is replaced, you should keep a regular oil change to prevent such issues. Always check the condition and level of your braking fluid each time you service your vehicle’s brakes.

As you can see, the anti-lock braking system light could have numerous triggers. That means diagnosing the problem at home can take time. You can save yourself the hassle by connecting an OBD2 scan tool (if you have one – or you can borrow a neighbor) to read the diagnostic trouble codes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Repair a Failing ABS?

Yes, you can repair a failing ABS, and the extent of work required depends on what component has broken down. The most common fault is a lousy sensor due to corrosion or natural wear on the cable. Fixing this problem is a matter of replacing it with a new sensor.

What Is the Cost of Fixing a Car’s Anti-Brake System?

The cost of fixing a car’s anti-brake system ranges from $350 to $1000, depending on the cause of the problem and car type.

Fixing Anti Brake System

If a broken speed sensor needs to be replaced, expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $200. An ABS module replacement costs about $250 for typical cars.

How Does Old Brake Fluid Impact ABS?

Old brake fluid impacts ABS by contaminating essential components of the system, causing corrosion and eventual failure. These components include the master cylinder, pump, and brake caliper. Consider buying fluids that contain corrosion inhibitors to avoid damage to your ABS and consequential high repair costs.

Can Driving with the ABS Light On Affect the Immobilizer System in a Volkswagen?

Driving with the ABS light on may not directly affect the immobilizer system in a Volkswagen. However, it is crucial to address any warning lights promptly to prevent potential issues. If you’re seeking detailed information on bypassing the immobilizer system in your Volkswagen, the “ultimate Volkswagen immobilizer bypass guide” can provide the necessary guidance for troubleshooting and resolving the issue.


Whether you’ve encountered the anti-lock braking system light after turning on the engine or while driving, it can be a sign of an issue with the system or your main brakes.

This article has answered your most important question – is it safe to drive my car with the ABS light on – and here’s what we’ve discussed:

  • Driving with your anti-lock braking system light on is safe because your regular brakes will still slow down and stop the car.
  • However, you must drive cautiously and avoid speed as your tires will likely lock up under hard braking, decreasing your vehicle’s maneuverability.
  • You should not drive your car if both the ABS and brake light are on – otherwise, you would risk facing a brake failure, resulting in a terrible crash.
  • There are many causes of the ABS light on, including failing wheel sensors, a burnt fuse, and faulty wiring.

You can now decide whether to drive your car with the anti-lock braking system light on. Remember to repair the system as soon as possible; the ABS light on car cost to fix is nothing compared to your safety and other road users.

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