Is it a big deal when the ABS light on my dash lights up?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 2001

Dear Tom and Ray:

The yellow ABS (Antilock Braking System) light on my 1993 Honda Accord's dashboard is on. I took it to my mechanic and asked him to check it out. He told me it's going to be a "big deal" to find the problem. I didn't want to pay for a "big deal," so I took the car to the shop teacher at the high school where I work. He had one of the students clean off the speed sensors, but the warning light stayed on. Any ideas? -- Billy

RAY: Yeah. You need to take the car to a dealer, Billy.

TOM: Neither of the people who looked at your car has the tools to diagnose this problem correctly. You need a scan tool with the proper ABS software in it. And the dealer will have that (other shops might, too, but we know the dealer will).

RAY: And when they plug your car into the scanner, my guess is that they'll find you need to have the ABS wheel sensors replaced. So cleaning the sensors was a pretty good guess.

TOM: We see this a lot on Fords, Nissans, Hondas and other cars. And they cost anywhere from $50 to $350 apiece, depending on the car. For your car, they're about $110 each.

RAY: And even if that's a "big deal" to you, you should do it anyway. Because, trust me, skidding sideways into a UPS truck is a bigger deal.

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