The ABS light has to do with the brake system, specifically the anti-lock system. If the ABS light is on, the Anti-lock Brake System computer has found a fault somewhere in the system. It could be anything from low brake fluid to a problem with a particular wheel sensor or another component within the system.

When the ABS light is on, your normal braking will still work. However, if you get into a panic stop, the anti-lock brake system will not take over your braking—that is, your wheels will lock up like a vehicle not equipped with anti-lock brakes. Therefore, you lose the ability to maneuver around objects in your path. Instead, momentum carries you forward and you’ll likely hit the object ahead of you.

You may remember your parents telling you that if you’re on ice you should pump your brakes and not apply them hard. The ABS System uses that principle as well. The ABS system pumps your brakes ten times per second, which is something no human is able to do.

The ABS light typically comes on as a yellow light. It doesn’t mean that you have to immediately stop the car, but it does indicate that the system is not going to work until you get it resolved. It does not mean that your car won’t stop; it does not mean that your brakes have failed completely; it only means that the anti-lock side of your brake system is not going to operate if you get into a panic stop situation or are trying to stop on a slick surface. Drive cautiously—as you always should—and quickly get your vehicle to a shop for testing.

Anti-lock Brake Systems are one of the best safety system improvements made in the past twenty years. It has saved countless lives and far more collisions.

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