The anti-lock braking system control module, also known as the ABS control module, works to prevent your wheels from locking up as you’re driving. This is especially important when you must put on the brakes suddenly to prevent an accident or crash.
How ABS Works
When you press on the brakes, the brake calipers force the brake pads to clamp down on the brake rotors.
If this clamping force exceeds the available traction between the ground and the tire, that tire will actually stop spinning. This is known as locked brakes.
Under heavy braking, one or more tires may lock and could initiate a slide. During a slide, you are more likely to lose control over the vehicle and your stopping distance will increase substantially. This is because a rolling tire has more grip than a slipping tire.
The ABS system works to limit tire slip by using wheel speed sensors to detect the speed of each tire. If one tire is spinning substantially slower than the others while you’re braking the vehicle, the brake caliper on that particular wheel will be released very briefly so that tire can regain grip. After that, the ABS module will reapply the brakes on that wheel. This process repeats several times per second as long as a tire is losing grip under braking.
ABS systems give you much better braking control over the vehicle. Stopping distances are reduced substantially and it is easier for the everyday driver to stop as quickly and consistently as possible. You will still be able to maintain some control over the vehicle’s steering under full braking.
Note: it is generally a very bad idea to brake and steer at the same time even if you have ABS equipped. While you’re braking, the weight of the vehicle pitches forward, leaving the rear end of the car very light. If you attempt to steer with a light rear end, the car could easily spin. Always brake in a straight line when possible.
Common Bad ABS Control Module Symptoms
The ABS control module ensures that you drive safely and securely on the road. If you have a bad control module and then find yourself having to stop quickly, you may be in for a rude awakening.
Below are some of the most common symptoms that will let you know that your ABS control module is failing. Once you find this out, get to a mechanic and have the module replaced right away.
1) Brakes Locking
The whole purpose of an ABS control module is to prevent locking of the wheels. If you notice that your wheels are locking up while you’re driving, then this obviously means that your ABS control module is faulty or damaged.
Generally when an ABS module fails, you will only notice when you slam on the brakes. In other words, you will usually only notice a problem when you need the system the most.
If one tire is smoking or is constantly locked, you may want to check to make sure you don’t have a stuck caliper.
2) ABS Light On
If you have a newer car, then it should have an ABS light on the dashboard. If your ABS control module were to go bad, this dashboard light should come on.
The light will likely be an amber color so it will be easy to recognize. However, if you have an older car, then the “check engine” light will be used to indicate this problem instead of the ABS light.
Some ABS systems may function even if the ABS light is on. Even still, you should have the ABS code read, then get the problem diagnosed and repaired. ABS systems have layers of redundancy and one component or circuit has probably failed.
3) Brake Pedal is Unresponsive
If you put your foot on the brake pedal and the car does not slow down at all as it normally does, this is obviously a sign that there is a problem.
In the beginning, the symptom will start out gradually where you will have to press your foot down on the pedal a couple of times to get it to work. But then as time goes on, you will have to press down more times just to perform one braking function.
It may eventually get to the point where it stops working altogether.
If you notice issues with the brake pedal, you should also check the brake fluid level and consider having the brake system flushed so you know there is no air in the brake lines.
4) Increased Brake Pedal Effort
You may be in a situation where the brake pedal of your vehicle works, but it requires a lot more pressure on your part just to perform a simple braking function.
A brake pedal should not require a significant amount of pressure. You should be able to just lightly press your foot down on the brake pedal for the braking to work. If you have to increase your effort just to do this, then your ABS control module may be bad.
5) Speedometer Fails
In rare cases where your ABS control module doesn’t work, the speedometer in your instrument cluster will stop working. Either it will show you an incorrect speed or the needle will just rest at 0 mph.
This will usually be followed by the ABS or check engine light coming on. But even if the light doesn’t come on, a bad speedometer should be reason enough to get your car checked out by a professional.
ABS Control Module Replacement Cost
It will cost a minimum of about $300 to replace an ABS control module, but could cost about $1,500. This total will also have additional fees and taxes added onto it as well.
The exact price of the replacement job will greatly depend on the type of car you have, how accessible the ABS module is, and the prices charged by the mechanic who works on your car. They will typically charge anywhere from $80 to $110 for the labor costs and anywhere from $220 to $1,090 for the parts costs.
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54 thoughts on “5 Symptoms of a Bad ABS Control Module (and Replacement Cost)”
I have a 07 Dodge 4×4. We replaced the Master Brake Cylinder when the ABS/Brake light came on and the brake pedal became mushy. It didn’t fix the problem. We have had the brakes bleed by Schwab and just recently the Dodge dealership. They also went thru the whole brake system and found nothing but said the ABS Control Module needs to be replaced. Only problem is, the part has been discontinued. Where do I find the part I need, its otherwise a great running truck. Very frustrating.
There are several places you could check for that. First, try salvage yards. You should be able to find a used ABS module for a good price. Ebay may offer refurbished modules, and you could try Rock Auto and even Facebook Marketplace as well. Search Facebook for a Dodge Ram owners group, because sometimes you’ll find owners who sell used parts that are hard to find.
I have a 2012 Mazda 3. I had the brake system flushed in March at the dealership. Yesterday I was driving and went to put on the brakes to turn a corner and the brake pedal went down to the floor and had very little braking ability. I had it towed to the dealership and they said there was air in the brake line. They bled the brakes, I drove it home and it seems to be working for now. But the dealership also said that it’s possible my ABS module is going out and that is what could have caused the air in the line and it could happen again. There has been no warning light, and I have had no other issues with the brakes prior to this event. Do you think it is the ABS module? or could it be they didn’t bleed the brakes well enough back in March?
I don’t know. Why did they think it was the ABS module?
Just bought a 2004 Buick Rainier..great car, no issues but…brakes work, then seep down,then wórk fine again. BCM + PCM not communicating for several minor issues.
Is this simply debris in brakes, wires need replacing, air in brake line..seems more simple than not. I’ll replace whatever to make it not do this. ABS def involved.
Changed out rotors,calipers,pads and master cylinder in 05 F150.
Pumped all the air out of lines and brakes were tight. Turned motor on and brake pedal goes right to the floor. No leaks whatsoever.
Is this a bad ABS SYSTEM? Have a used one coming in the mail. Please help!
What happens if you pump the pedal after you turn the truck on?
08 grand caravan, brakes were spunggy so I changed the master cylinder, bleeders we’re frozen on rear calipers so I replaced both rear calipers, when I started to bleed all 4 calipers, right front and rear left calipers are not getting fluid, I bled the two line at the ABS model and pressure is good but the lines that go out to the right front and rear left has no outgoing pressure, I changed the ABS module and same problem, can someone please help me.
ABS is hard to bleed on your own. I recommend you get professional help with bleeding your braking system.
I bought a 2002 Chevy Blazer 4WD. Drove it from PA to NC, then all around home for a couple months. When doing some maintenance I noticed a dark spot on a brake line bend where fluid was seeping through. Since the lines were corroded, I replaced 100% of all the lines and hoses from the master cylinder to the wheels. Doing so I found the body mounts were in bad shape so I replaced them all as well, and replaced all the calipers while I was at it.
I bled all the brakes meticulously and obtained a good solid pedal and the brakes worked perfectly. After a few months of sitting due to a 4X4 issue, I drove to get it inspected. Everything was fine and during the drive I pressed the brake pedal and it would neither go down nor stop the vehicle, with me really standing on the brake, and made a grinding/scrubbing sound. I released the pedal as I went through a stop sign then, when I pressed it again, it worked perfectly. In around another half mile the pedal refused to go down again with the same sound, and the same result after releasing and trying again. All totaled it was driven around 7 miles and this happened 4 times with no real consistent pattern as to the frequency.
What am I missing? Which of the components would be the most likely culprit? ABS Module? Modulator Valve? I also replaced a lot of vacuum lines trying to root out the 4X4 issues. Could some of the efforts be connected? I would like to start in the most likely spot as none of the components are particularly inexpensive.
What could be the reason if abs motor continuously work even if the ignition key is at off position. I end up removing the 40 amp fuse to turn it off . Brake is fine, fuse ok, wheel sensor are ok all four,abs light on, but no fault code showing
I’m guessing there is an electrical short somewhere.
Take it to your dealership and get them to try the ABS Code, 00301 and see whether it shows you a complete diagnosis before you decide to replace anything. Sometimes it could just be air in the brake fluid lines. You will need to bleed out all of the old fluid and replace it with new fluid. You use new fluid to do the process of bleeding out the system. Start bleeding the tyre furtherest away from your brake reservoir. Good Luck.
I have a 2010 HHR every time the ABS kicks in I lose my brake pressure and I hear a click when I push my brake in by the shifter.
Could be air in the ABS module, or some other problem related to ABS. When was the last time the brakes were bled?
I could not get the parking brake to disengage when I parked my 2017 Ford Escape on a slight incline. Had it towed to the dealer. I had just bought my car from a Chevy dealer 4 months ago. They said that I needed a Actuator and it needed to be calibrated. They sent it to the Ford dealership. Then they told me that the ABS modular needed to be replaced. No light came on for the ABS. 3 weeks of being in the shop and me without a car, they are now telling me that they need to install another Actuator on the other side. I am beginning to fear that I have bought a lemon.
I have a problem in braking my car either to stop or slow down. The brakes are not responding. It is a Mercedes Benz E class E320.
1. Is it the full ABS system that is faulty or something within the ABS system?
2. Can this ABS system be fixed or only replaced?
When you say “the brakes are not responding”, do you mean you push the pedal and the car doesn’t slow down? Is the pedal soft or spongey?
Check your brake fluid. If it’s low, top off the brake fluid and bleed the brakes.
1. I don’t know. You’ll have to diagnose the problem first.
2. That depends on the result of #1. Some ABS modules can be repaired, but the module may not even be the issue.
I have a 3/4 ton 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche 4wd…intermittently makes a groaning noise upon braking and a very slight shudder…the ABS light has never come on…could this be the ABS module going bad, and if it is the module, will the ABS light come on all the time?
I don’t know. Personally if I was not sure what was causing that, I would have the braking system inspected at a shop because it’s not something you want to mess around with.
This could mean that the breaks and potentially the rotors need replaced.
my 2005 rav4 while driving, suddenlly brakes and slows down, without i aplying brakes. it is frightening. what do you think
How heavy is the braking? Does it pull to one side? Are all four wheels the same temperature after you are done driving for a while? (the wheels may be hot so don’t touch them directly, just put your hand close to feel if one is radiating more heat than the others)
You might have a stuck caliper or bad brake hose. I’m not really sure. Do you have any codes stored from the ABS module?
I have a 2006 Chevy Malibu and sometimes the right front brake will grab when stopping then the ABS and Traction Control light comes on after i stop car and turn it off and restart it it’s fine for awhile brake quit’s grabbing . Would this be the module or what ? Thanks
Are you saying the right front brake will grab when you apply the brakes, but the left front will not? Is the right front brake stuck, even when you are not applying the brakes?
I got a 2003 Hyundai alantra I did all calipers and rotors. When I drive for a little while my left front and right rear lock up. Then I let it sit for an hour and I can drive it again then it does it again.
Many master cylinders have two chambers that separate the brake fluid into two circuts, for instance the left front and the right rear is one circuit, and the right front and left rear is another. Check to make sure there’s nothing weird going on with the master cylinder. Make sure you have enough brake fluid. If you didn’t bleed the brakes when you replaced the calipers, you’ll also want to do that.
Hi Mark? I have exactly same problem even worse. Replaced master cylinder, hoses, new calipers but it still same. I wonder, did you fix it and if yes, how ? Thanks you in advance.
likely a wheel bearing heating up causing brake fade with a hot rotor.
My Abs light is on and my 4 wheel drive and cruise control isnt working on my 2017 dodge ram. Is it the ABS censor or module?
Not sure, you’ll have to do some diagnostic work to determine the root cause.
2001 Pathfinder. When driving 3 miles from home, car started slowing down and RPMs started going up. ABS light illuminated on dash. Both front wheels locked up tight. Rear brake lights won’t go off. Smoking under hood appears to come from passenger front tire. Towed car home. Any ideas?
Sounds like you might have a stuck caliper, or another problem with the braking system. It would be best to have a professional look at it if you aren’t sure.
A quick question from a novice. My offside front wheel was hit very violently in an accident. The ABS light and the DSC failure message appeared. Could anyone please explain if the accident of this nature cause the ABS unit to fail. Appreciate your help. Thanls
It certainly could be. Someone will have to look at the car to know for sure.
ABS sensors are easy to damage. Most likely it was damaged with the impact. Yao can do a basic test with a digital volts ohms meter.
Simple question, if i stop using the abs pump and modify to a normal (direct brake) will the engine or brake lights still come on? And also will the speedometer works normal showing the correct speed?
I’m not sure that question is simple, because it will depend on your specific vehicle. The speedometer will probably work normally, since it’s usually not part of the ABS system. I would expect the ABS/brake and check engine lights to still come on. The ECM likely expects a signal from the ABS module, which it won’t receive if you remove the ABS module.
Disable the ABS system by pulling the two fuses . Warning lights do come on.
The brake pedal went to the floor without any warning twice on my 2002 Saturn L series. Talked to my mechanic and replaced the master cylinder. Worked great for about a week and a half until yesterday when the LF brake caliper started to lock up. As I limped it down the shoulder the RF brake started grabbing too. I replaced the LF caliper last night, bled the brake lines but that new caliper still doesn’t release. Also noticed that my ABS light came on and now my traction control ON/OFF button doesn’t light up. Is this a failed ABS module? Also, is the ABS module the same thing as the “Electronic Brake and Traction Control Module”?
I don’t think a failed ABS module would cause calipers to seize like that. Yes, an ABS module is also called an Electronic Brake and Traction Control Module on some vehicles. You may see this shortened to EBCM by some manufacturers (GM likes to do this).
OK thank you for the feedback.
My ABS light is on and blinking. I think my rear wheel locked up and caused my rear tire to blow out.
95 Chevy blazer.
When I press the brake pedal it pushes back against me and makes a kind of grinding noise. It returns to normal after I drive and the car warms up. The ABS light then comes on and it runs fine. Any ideas? Cost?
I’m not sure. I’d bring it to a shop for a diagnosis and estimate.
I just had this happen to my 2004 F150. Did you ever get an answer to your question?
After I first start the truck, the ABS is active whenever I apply the brakes. This only happens a couple of times, then the ABS light comes on and stays on. The brakes then work normally. At least until the truck is turned off.
I have a 2005 gmc 1500 2wd. My service brake came on I paid no mind. But now my truck died no one can find the problem.
I have 2006 Toyota Tundra whenever I press the brakes I makes a buzzing sound not scrubbing. It that a possibility of the ABS pump going bad.
Does this happen when you lightly tap the brakes or when you push hard and trigger the ABS? I would take it to a shop to get it looked at.
My 2006 Tundra is doing the exact same thing….a buzzing sound when stopping….not every time though. Of course it never does it when I get the mechanic in the truck with me. I was thinking of unplugging the ABS module to see if that has any effect on the noise. Oh, by the way, every time that happens, I can feel the brake pedal collapse ever so slightly. To Sean’s reply, it only happens when I push hard on the pedal.
Can someone please follow up on this? I see it has been over a year since Darrell Becton first posted this comment. Thanks.
2010 ford Taurus sel.had break job and master cylinder replaced. Breaks still mushy. My mechanic thinks its the abs control module ,but the abs light is not on?
It’s certainly plausible. Any air in the system can cause a mushy brake pedal, and the ABS sensors may not detect this. If the brakes were not bled properly, it is possible there is still some residual air left in the ABS module.
If the pedal goes to the floor with minimal stopping power, this is something that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. However, some cars just have a slightly squishy pedal from the factory by design. If the pedal feels similar to how it did before the brake job, you may be fine. It would be best to get a second opinion from a mechanic who can feel the brakes in person to determine if they need more work.
The brake pedal in my ’06 Silverado 1500 collapsed halfway down and held abruptly at that halfway point. This happened while I was idling at a dead stop in a parking lot. As I depressed the pedal with constant pressure for a minute or so, it simply collapsed suddenly!
The rear axle grease seals had also ruptured so when I checked the brake lines and changed the rear pads the next day, I also replaced the grese seals and changed the differential fluid.
After all that, the brake pedal remains at that same halfway height to which it had collapsed!!
It is not spongy, In fact it is solid, and pumping the pedal it does not have any effect on its height or effectiveness.
The mechanics at car X have a confirmed there is no leak in the lines or the master cylinder. Yet the pedal remains at half its normal height. They suggested that it might be a failed the ABS, but they couldnt confirm that a 1/2 height brake pedal would be a symptom of that condition. Any ideas??
I HAVE A 96 CHEVY S-10 AII THE TIME THE ABS/BRAKE LIGHT COMES ON AND CUTS ENGINE OFF STARTS BACK UP RUN GOOD FOR ABOUT 70 MILES BUT HAS STARTED BACK TODAY