Modern vehicles are equipped with computers and electronics that monitor all parts of the vehicle’s systems. They will let you know when your engine isn’t running properly or even when your vehicle’s tires are low on air. What does the ABS light mean in a Jeep?
The Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) light will come on in your Jeep when it fails a diagnostic test. It indicates that the ABS of your vehicle is experiencing an issue and not operating properly. It will need to be repaired or reset to provide the safety feature when you drive.
Below we will look at what ABS does, Why the ABS warning light may come on, and how to reset the light.
Anti-locking Breaking System
The anti-lock braking system, or ABS, is designed to keep the wheels of your Jeep from locking up or skidding when you apply pressure to the brake pedal. Without ABS, the wheels of your Jeep would stop turning and begin to skid on the roadway. This can cause you to lose control of your Jeep and can prevent you from being able to steer and avoid an accident.
The ABS does not assist your vehicle from stopping quicker. It does add some distance to the stopping ability of your Jeep. It will allow you to maintain full control of your Jeep and still maneuver your jeep to avoid the accident altogether. It can also help increase the lifespan of your tires, wheels, brake pads, brake calipers, and rotors.
Without the assistance of the ABS, the tires of your Jeep would lock up, skid across the roadway, and prevent you from being able to control the direction your vehicle will travel. The ABS will not allow the wheels to stop turning. It will release the braking pressure on the wheel and add it again thousands of times a second.
This allows you to still stop your Jeep in time while still maintaining full control over it.
Reasons the ABS Light Comes On
When the ABS light on the dash comes on it is an indication that there is an issue with the ABS of your Jeep and it is not functioning properly. It is not an indication that the brake system has failed, however, a failure in the braking system will also cause the ABS light to illuminate.
Defective ABS Module
The ABS is connected to the traction control system of your Jeep and they can share information. The traction control system regulates the wheel speed of your Jeep’s wheels to ensure they are all traveling within the same revolutions a second when the vehicle is in motion. If it detects an issue with the wheel, it can transfer the power from that wheel to the other wheels.
Since the ABS and traction control share the same control module, and diagnostic system they can interfere with each other. The ABS module controls the entire ABS and sends information about the wheel’s speed to the traction control as well. If the traction control system of your Jeep stops functioning it can cause the traction control and ABS lights to illuminate.
A malfunctioning ABS module can also cause the ABS light in your jeep to illuminate as well. If the ABS module itself is malfunctioning, it may cause the brakes to lock up even under normal braking. It can cause the brake pedal to become less responsive or increase the pressure needed to operate it.
Wheel Speed Sensor
The wheel speed sensors monitor how fast each wheel turns and sends that information to the ABS module. If the wheel speed sensor is dirty or broken it will not send the information to the ABS module and cause the ABS light to be triggered. The wheel speed sensor will need to be cleaned or replaced for the ABS to function properly.
Low Brake Fluid Level
Your Jeep brake system is hydraulically operated and requires brake fluid to operate. If there is a leak in the braking system or a loss of fluid due to evaporation, a sensor will be triggered. This will cause the ABS light on the dash of your Jeep to come on. Once the fluid is replaced the ABS light of your Jeep will turn off.
If the Brake fluid level of your Jeep is low, ensure there is not a leak. If your brake system loses all the brake fluid, it will fail to operate and leave you unable to stop your Jeep.
Low tire pressure can cause the ABS light in your Jeep to illuminate. If there is a significant size difference when the tire loses pressure it can cause that wheel to spin faster and send false signals to the ABS module. These signals can cause the ABS module to believe there is an issue with the wheel speed sensor and cause the ABS warning light to come on.
If you have oversized tires on your jeep and your ABS light is on it can be an indication there is an issue with the tire pressure of one of the tires. If you are not able to connect the tire pressure monitoring system, or TPMS, due to the larger tires or aftermarket rims you should check your tire pressure to ensure it is correct.
A blown fuse for the ABS will cause it to stop functioning and illuminate the warning light on the dash of your Jeep. Check the owner’s manual of your Jeep to find the location for the fuse of your ABS. If the fuse is blown you will need to replace it with the proper fuse for the ABS of your Jeep to function properly.
Some Jeeps may have the option to turn off the traction control and/or the ABS. When they have been turned off the warning lights on your Jeeps dash will illuminate to warn you that these systems are not functioning. Consult the owner’s manual of your Jeep to ensure that if you can turn these systems off in your vehicle that they are still on.
Resetting the ABS of Your Jeep
For some Jeeps, it may be possible to reset the warning light. This can help you if you are trying to diagnose what the issue may be with your vehicle. Below we will cover some of the ways to reset the ABS warning light in your Jeep to help you correct the problem.
Correcting the issue
Resetting the ABS light in some Jeeps will not be possible without fixing the issue. Many newer computers will continue to store the trouble codes even after they have been disconnected. In these vehicles, the only way to turn off the ABS warning light would be to correct the issue. Once the issue with the ABS is corrected the warning light will turn off automatically.
An OBDII scanner will be the most efficient way to diagnose and turn off any warning light you have in your Jeep. It will allow you to read the various codes that are causing the warning lights to become illuminated on your dash.
To read the codes you will need to connect the scanner to the diagnostic port located somewhere in your jeep. They are usually located on the driverside just below the bottom of the dashboard. Your vehicle key will need to be in the on position without the engine running. Using the OBDII system with your vehicle running can damage the computer and damage the engine of your vehicle.
Once connected the OBDII scanner may prompt you to enter information about your vehicle and guide you through the process of obtaining the trouble codes for your Jeep.
On some Jeeps, you will only have the option to read the code for the ABS and will not have to option to erase the code. On older Jeeps, you will be able to read and erase any trouble code and reset your system.
Disconnecting the Battery
If you do not have an ODBII scanner, you can still reset and erase the codes on your computer by disconnecting the battery of your vehicle. You will need to remove the negative battery terminal and then the positive to ensure your Jeep is not getting any power at all.
You will also need to drain any additional power left in your jeep by turning on the lights, beeping the horn, or turning on the radio. You may also want to let your vehicle sit for at least 15 minutes to give the system time to reset.
After the wait time, you can reconnect your battery in the reverse order of the removal.
My Closing Thoughts
The ABS light on the dash is an indication that there is a problem with that system and it is not working properly. The issues with the ABS of your Jeep will need to be diagnosed and repaired for it to function properly. Damaged wheel speed sensors, malfunctioning ABS modules, low brake fluid levels, and even low tire pressure can cause the ABS warning light to illuminate in your Jeep.