Anti-Lock Braking is a core element of motor vehicle safety, ensuring that when you are forced to brake hard and fast (often in an emergency situation, and often in poor weather), your wheels do not lock and cause you to skid uncontrollably.
When there is a fault in the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), an ABS warning light will display in your vehicle’s dashboard.
To learn what to do when the ABS light comes on, follow our step-by-step instructions below. For all other information, or if you have further questions, check out our FAQ section at the end of this article.
Table of Contents
- What to do when your vehicle’s ABS light comes on
- What to do when your vehicle’s ABS and brake light come on
- How to turn off the ABS light on a vehicle
What to do when your vehicle’s ABS light comes on
If the ABS light comes on and stays on when you start your car, then there is a fault in the Anti-Lock Braking System.
This should not affect your brakes themselves but will affect the stability and effectiveness of your emergency braking.
You should seek immediate professional attention from a mechanic at your local garage. You can still drive there since your brakes still work.
Just be careful and drive slowly, since your emergency braking is compromised. Book an appointment immediately and make sure that the garage is your primary destination as soon as the ABS light shows.
Your local garage should be able to locate the problem area within the ABS and fix it, after which your ABS light should turn off, and you can drive safely again.
If the light does not turn off, see our tutorial below on how to turn it off manually.
What to do when your vehicle’s ABS and brake light come on
If both the ABS warning light and brake warning light come on when you start your car, then there is a serious fault with the entire braking system. As such, you should under no circumstances drive your car.
Call your local garage and arrange for one of their team to come and pick your car up. Alternatively, call your insurance company and arrange for a member of their team to come and pick your car up.
Do not drive your car to your garage, as your brakes most likely do not work properly (even if they feel like they do).
Your local garage or insurance company should be able to fix the issues with both your ABS and brake systems.
In turn, the warning lights should turn off. If the lights do not turn off, see our tutorial below on how to turn them off manually.
How to turn off the ABS light on a vehicle
If the issue with your ABS has been located and fixed, but the ABS warning light is still on, then you should first talk to a mechanic at your local garage.
They should be able to reset your ECU for you, which should in turn ensure that the ABS light is reset and off next time you start up your car.
However, if you would rather turn the ABS light off DIY, follow these instructions carefully:
- Turn your car off using your ignition key
- Pop the hood/bonnet of the car to reveal the engine
- Disconnect the battery terminal cables one at a time, starting with the negative cable (minus sign, black cap)
- Using a jump lead, attach the two terminals to each other
- Open the driver-side door, and using the ignition key, turn the ignition to ON
- Do NOT attempt to start the car
- Leave the key at the ON position for 20-25 minutes; this will drain the ECU of remaining electrical current, and will thus reset the warning lights on your dashboard
- Once the allotted time is up, remove the jumper lead, and reattach your battery’s terminal cables, this time starting with the positive lead (+ sign, red cap) first.
- Start your car’s engine, and you should see that the ABS light disappears after a few seconds. If the ABS light remains, seek professional help from a local garage
And there you have it: all the information you need to know about what to do when an ABS and/or brake warning light comes on, as well as a simple 8-step guide on how to manually turn off your ABS light at home.
If you have any other questions or would like more information, please see our FAQs below.
What is the ABS light on a vehicle?
On the dashboard of your card, where the speedometer and RPM meter is located, you’ll find a number of other icons which may light up from time to time.
These icons are warning lights, alerting you to various issues with the vehicle, and safety hazards, such as indicating that someone is not wearing their seatbelt, for example.
ABS stands for Anti-Lock Braking System.
It’s the system that sends real-time information from your wheels to your car’s Engine Control Unit (ECU), which in turn stops the wheels from locking during extreme, usually an emergency, braking.
In simpler terms, your ABS limits the chances that your car will skid during an emergency stop.
When the ABS light comes on on your dashboard, it’s a clear indication that there is a fault with the ABS system.
This may just be a fault with the actual electrical connections within the system, or something more serious.
Whatever the fault is, however, it’s important that you seek professional help at your local garage. A fault in the ABS can be lethal.
The ABS light will always come on immediately once you start the engine. This is because your ECU is testing the system to make sure it works.
If it turns off again after a few seconds, the ABS is working properly. If it stays on, the ABS is faulty.
Do all vehicles have ABS lights?
Not all vehicles have ABS lights, and sometimes not even all wheeled vehicles have it. Typically, however, all modern cars and motorbikes have Anti-Lock Braking built into their ECU.
As such, all modern vehicles usually have an ABS light to indicate the driver as to whether the ABS is working properly or not.
Is it safe to turn off the ABS light on a vehicle?
It is only safe to turn the ABS warning light off on your vehicle after you have established and corrected the problem which caused the light to turn on in the first place.
ABS is a fundamental aspect of motor safety, as it keeps your wheels from locking and thus skidding during emergency stops or hard braking.
If you turn the ABS light off on your vehicle without first having the ABS fault fixed, you are putting yourself and your passengers at extreme risk.
Why would I want to turn off the ABS light on a vehicle?
If you’ve examined and fixed the fault in your Anti-Lock Braking System, but the ABS warning light remains on when you start your car, then it is understandable that you would want to turn the ABS light off manually.
Sometimes, the electrical signal instructions fed to the ECU by the ABS to say that it’s faulty are not erased once the ABS fault has been corrected.
In other words, the Error Message sent to your car remains, even after the error has been resolved. In these situations, and only in these situations, should you consider turning your ABS light off yourself.