You hop into your Jeep ready to make a trip and you notice that the ABS light is on and hasn’t shut off. Perhaps you were already driving your Jeep when it illuminated. Now you are asking can I drive my Jeep with the ABS light on? Is it safe?
It is possible to drive with the ABS light on.The anti-lock braking system, or ABS, light is an indication that there is an issue with the anti-lock system of your Jeep. It is not an indication of the braking system of your Jeep. However, you should minimize driving as much as possible and get your ABS diagnosed as soon as possible.
Below we will take a closer look at your Jeep’s ABS, and if it’s safe for you to drive.
Jeep Anti-lock Braking System
The anti-lock braking system, or ABS, keeps your Jeep from skidding when you apply pressure to the brakes pedal. Without ABS, your Jeep’s wheels would stop rolling and skid on the roadway. This would make you to lose control of your Jeep and could stop you from steering to avoid a potential accident.
It is not designed to stop your Jeep quicker. In fact, ABS will increase its stopping distance. It will let you to keep and maintain control of your Jeep as you come to a quick stop. Without assistance from ABS, your Jeep’s tires would lock up and cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Stopping without ABS could also damage your tires, wheels, brake pads, calipers, and rotors.
ABS Warning Light
The ABS warning light indicates that there is a problem with the ABS, not the braking system of your Jeep. Damaged wheel speed sensors, malfunctioning ABS modules, low fluid levels, burn-out fuses, and even low tire pressure can cause the ABS light to come on in your Jeep. Some Jeeps will allow you to turn off the traction control and ABS of your vehicle causing the light to come on.
Every time your Jeep is started the ABS will do a diagnostic check of the system to ensure that there are no issues. The ABS warning light should illuminate when you start your vehicle. If it does not come on at all it could indicate that the bulb is burnt out, there is a problem with the dashboard, or there is a burnt-out fuse.
If the ABS light does illuminate but does not go off it is an indication of a problem with the system.
ABS Light Stays On
If the ABS light does stay on, you will need to diagnose your vehicle in an attempt to solve why the light remains on before attempting to drive the vehicle. Some issues can be easily diagnosed and fixed before attempting to drive your Jeep. Other issues will be harder to diagnose but will not make it unsafe to drive.
There are a few instances when you should not try and drive your Jeep with the ABS light on without the risk of losing braking abilities and being unable to stop your vehicle.
Diagnosing the Issue
If your ABS light remains on, the first thing you should check before you attempt to drive the vehicle is the brake fluid level. Having low or no brake fluid in the reservoir can cause the ABS light to come on and make your Jeep unsafe to drive. If your Jeep’s brake fluid level is low or completely empty do not drive the vehicle.
You should at minimum replace the fluid before you attempt to put your Jeep in gear and move it. Your Jeep’s brakes work on a hydraulic system and will not operate without fluid. You will also need to ensure there is no leak in your braking system. If there is a brake fluid leak anywhere you will need to have it repaired before you can drive your jeep.
After you have refilled the brake fluid in your Jeep and have not found any leaks, you will need to test your brakes before you drive. After starting your vehicle, before you put it into gear, you should pump your brake pedal. It should feel firm without going all the way to the floor. If your brake pedal does not feel firm or travels it will need repair.
If you do get a good feel from the pedal, check your Jeep brake fluid reservoir again to ensure you have not lost all the fluid you have replaced. If you have, there may be a leak in the brake system and should not be driven. If you do have fluid and a good pedal ensure the ABS light has gone off. If so, you will be fine to drive.
Next, you should check the ABS fuses to ensure that they are still intact before drinking your Jeep. You may need to consult the owner’s manual of your Jeep to find the exact location of the fuse. If the fuse is blown, replacing it should correct the ABS warning light and make your Jeep safe to drive.
Other Illuminated Lights
Are there other illuminated lights on your Jeep’s instrument panel besides the ABS light? The traction control system is closely integrated with the ABS and having both warning lights illuminated on your dash could indicate larger problems with your vehicle. If your Jeep has more than one warning light illuminated on your dash you should refrain from driving the vehicle without having the issues diagnosed properly.
Driving a Jeep With ABS Light On
Under most circumstances, the ABS warning light does not mean that the braking system of your Jeep is not operational. If the light comes on while you are driving it is an indication that you won’t be able to control and stop your vehicle quickly if you need to. You should maintain a larger safe stopping distance and avoid making any quick or sudden stops.
Stopping quickly can cause your wheels to lock up. If your Jeep’s wheels do lock up and skid, you may not be able to steer your vehicle away from danger. Your Jeep will be more likely to skid in inclement weather such as rain, snow, and wet roadways. You will need to exercise more caution to brake lightly to keep your vehicle from skidding out of control.
Warning Issues of ABS Problems
If your Jeep’s ABS light is illuminated while you are drinking there are a few signs to be aware of that will warn you of more problems with your braking system. If you experience any of these issues, with or without an ABS light, you should pull over and not drive your Jeep.
Unresponsive Brake Pedal
If the brake pedal of your vehicle becomes unresponsive or begins to gradually stop working this is a strong indication of an issue with your Jeep’s braking system. If the brake pedal becomes spongy, or you have continually press harder and harder on the pedal your Jeep’s brakes are failing.
You need to pull over and stop your vehicle before your brake pedal loses all response and you are unable to stop your jeep at all.
The ABS system of your Jeep is designed to prevent the wheels from locking up as you drive. If your Jeep’s brakes continually lock up even under light braking, there is an issue with your braking system and you should not drive the vehicle. If you are forced to make a sudden stop when your Jeep’s brakes are locking up you can lose control as your vehicle skids.
If you are driving your Jeep and you feel the brake pedal pulsating when you attempt to stop, this is not necessarily an indication that there is an issue with your Jeep. All ABS systems create a pulsating to keep the Jeep’s wheels from locking up. If you feel this sensation in the pedal as you drive it is an indication that the system is operating correctly.
Once you begin to feel this sensation, you should just hold the pedal and allow your vehicle to stop normally. Lighting off the brake pedal and pushing back down may stop the effect but it will also cause your Jeep to travel much further to stop.
The best way to ease these sensations is to smoothly press and release your brakes. Harder stopping will cause the ABS to work harder to stop your Jeep which will increase the pulsating felt in the pedal.
My Closing Thoughts
While driving with the ABS light on the dash illuminated is not recommended, it does not indicate that there is an issue with the barking system of your Jeep. It may still be able to drive your Jeep short distances but it should be diagnosed and repaired as soon as possible to ensure you can maintain control if you need to brake quickly.
If your Jeep brake pedal is unresponsive, or if your jeep’s brakes continue to lock up even under light braking it could indicate there are other issues with your braking system making the Jeep unsafe to drive.