An ABS pump is a vital part of many modern braking systems. In previous articles we have discussed how you can replace your ABS pump – but what are the sure signs it needs changing?
What is the Purpose of the Pump?
The ABS pump is a safety feature that can be found on most vehicles, as part of the anti-lock braking system (ABS). The whole system has been cleverly designed to stop dangerous brake locking in heavy braking situations, preventing skidding, hydroplaning and loss of traction. It is especially important in tough, muddy terrains and difficult weather conditions, such as icy roads or torrential downpours, helping the driver maintain full control of the vehicle.
How does the System Work?
Every ABS system is made up of the ABS pump and ABS sensors, which are placed on each wheel. When you brake, the ABS sensors detect wheel speed, and send a message to the ABS pump to rapidly activate – that’s engage and disengage – the brakes, when the speed indicates that the vehicle is skidding or has lost traction.
If the ABS system is not functioning properly, then your vehicle is likely to skid, hydroplane and lose traction under heavy braking conditions. The last time you want to find this out is when you need it most in tough conditions, which could lead to an accident on the road.
Fortunately there are plenty of signs that your ABS pump is in need of replacement. These are as follows:
- Unresponsive Brake Pedal
Have you noticed that your brake pedal is taking a little more effort than normal to depress? This could be the first sign that you’re having trouble with your ABS pump.
If you are also finding that your brakes are not as responsive as they used to be – this could also be a red flag and a sign you need to investigate. Don’t let it get to the situation where you’re having to pump the brake pedal or push it all the way down for very little or no response from the brakes.
In short, as soon as you start to realise there’s something not quite right with your brake pedal, seek professional help. Don’t leave it to the point where your brake starts to become completely unresponsive.
- Brake Pedal Needs More Force
Your car’s brake pedal is designed to operate with the minimum amount of effort and in a car with good ABS you should only require a light touch to activate braking. If you start to find that you need to press harder to achieve the same amount of braking force, then this could be a clear sign that the ABS pump is on its way out. Get professional advice as soon as possible.
- Brakes Locking Up
The whole purpose of an ABS system is to prevent your brakes from locking up in tough conditions and situations, giving you a high degree of traction. However, if your brakes are locking up under normal driving conditions this may be caused by a faulty ABS pump.
If you start to experience some strange behaviour from your brakes or notice random clicking noises or pumping of the brakes, these can be the first indicators of this problem.
Should the problem develop into the brakes actually locking the wheels up when driving, then it’s time to get over to the garage. It’s highly likely that the ABS pump is faulty and will need to be replaced.
- ABS Light Activated
This is the most obvious sign on our list, and is by far and away the most common sign that your ABS is suffering from problems. On newer cars look for a dedicated warning light that is usually orange or amber in colour and has an ABS mark on it. Older cars may use the check engine warning light to indicate problems with this system.
- Speedometer Failing
It may well be that your brakes are suffering from problems, but ABS faults could even cause issues with your speedometer, stopping you from seeing how fast your vehicle is going on the road.
In some rare cases when the ABS pump fails or is faulty, this can also stop the speedometer from working properly. It will either show an incorrect speed, or worse, show that the car is moving at 0 mph. This may be accompanied by the activation of the ABS or check engine lights, but even without a light, issues with the speedometer are a clear indication that you need to get your car checked by a professional.
The problem of ABS pump faults is one that demands immediate attention if you want to retain the efficiency, good handling and performance of your car. Always keep one eye on this list of symptoms to make sure you avoid damage and accidents.
Once you have identified a possible problem with your ABS pump, then it’s time to seek out a good mechanic and get the pump replaced ASAP. You’re probably looking at a cost that could range from £500 to as much as £2000 including all parts and labour. Obviously the factors that control this price will be the make and model of your vehicle, and the mechanic you use.
Of course, you can always shop around for the best price, but make sure you take action, as driving with a faulty ABS pump can cost you a whole lot more in the long run.