You probably won’t notice much difference in the way your car performs when your ABS light comes on unless you are driving on slippery pavement. Your regular brakes are continuing to do their job, so it may seem like no big deal. Unfortunately, you have a false sense of security if you believe this is the case.
What is the wheel speed sensor?
The wheel speed sensor, also known as the speed sensor or ABS brake sensor, sits on the wheel and provides information to your car's central computer. It will alert the system if one wheel is rotating too fast, as the result of less traction. The ABS system kicks in and helps you stop your car safely. This system normally does such a good job that you don’t ever notice it.
When the sensor is broken
If the sensor isn’t working, it won’t be sending any information to the system when there’s a problem. The ABS system won’t know to begin working and you can lose control of your vehicle and cause an accident.
When the sensor is broken, it causes the entire system to be disabled because it can’t function without the proper data. A disabled ABS system can even impact other safety mechanisms, such as electronic stability control and traction control.
It’s very dangerous to be out on the road when your ABS system isn’t working, regardless of the reason. If you cause an accident and have previous knowledge of the faulty sensor, you could have greater liability for the situation. It pays to get the situation checked out as soon as you see the ABS light come on.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Is It Unsafe to Continue Driving a Vehicle with Broken Wheel Speed Sensors? and was authored by Joyce Morse.