The Must-Knows of Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) Codes

Not sure what the lights on the dashboard of your truck mean? It’s likely your ABS needs a tune-up. In this blog, we uncover everything you need to know about this essential safety utility. This article explains what ABS codesare, discusses their most important factors, and breaks down critical maintenance procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions on ABS Trucking Codes

When it comes to your ABS codes, you should always take precautions and have them addressed right away. Here are some common questions and answers when it comes to the ABS lights on trailers and trucks.

What Is an ABS System?

ABS is an anti-skid braking system that prevents the wheels from locking up when you force your vehicle to stop. This automated brake controller applies pressure to the braking system when you press on the foot pedal. Some of its essential functions include:

  • Electronic stability control (ESC) automatically applies brake pressure to keep a vehicle from veering off the intended path, like when turning and at high speeds.
  • Emergency brake assist increases your braking pressure in emergency braking situations.
  • Steering control integration helps prevent swerving and fishtailing with trailers.
  • Brakeforce distribution distributes the amount of force applied to each wheel based on truck and road conditions.
  • Traction control comes into play when your wheels encounter hydroplaning and ice, warning you and keeping you from losing control.

What Is an ABS Code?

An ABS code detects problems associated with your braking system. These warning lights flash on your dashboard when mechanical issues arise due to abnormal signs from the wheel sensors. It is important to never ignore these ABS lights on trailers or in your truck, and to slow down if you are unable to immediately address the issue.

Common ABS Triggers

Some common reasons your ABS light is on include, but are not limited to:

  • Low battery voltage
  • Broken wheel speed sensors
  • Bad wheel bearing
  • Bad ABS module
  • Blown fuse
  • Faulty traction control
  • ABS pump malfunction

Typically, a professional service company will be able to accurately diagnose these issues, but often if your engine light is also throwing a code, take it to a nearby shop to have the codes run. Having a general place to start will be helpful but not required for a professional.

What’s the Difference Between a Brake Light and an ABS Light?

If you notice your semi-trailer ABS blink a code, it means more intricate issues associated with your ABS module. Unlike brake lights, ABS lights are typically controlled by a computer module. When this light flashes, it appears as a numerical code, which technicians have to diagnose manually.

Brake lights are more straightforward. These warning signals are activated by simple circuits and indicate lower-level mechanical problems such as lack of brake fluid, blown fuses, and parking brake issues.

What Codes Require Immediate Attention?

The simple answer is all codes. Any fault that causes the system to stop operating requires assistance from the Department of Transportation (DOT). You should schedule a maintenance inspection on your truck and trailer right away if you start to notice any of the following:

  • Flashing lights on the trailer – This indicates a fault in the system, and can be dangerous for yourself and other drivers if not taken care of.
  • Non-working trailer lights – Sometimes, the light will work on the truck, but not on the trailer. When that happens, it means the ABS bulb is burned out and needs to be repaired along with the fault illuminated on your truck’s dash.
  • Flashing lights on the dash of the truck – This signals a need to replace or repair a failing ABS module.

Ever see a light on in your truck and think it’s “no big deal”? Read this article for a comprehensive look at why accurate truck diagnostics matter to you and your company.

What’s the Difference Between a Tractor’s ABS Code and a Car’s?

Tractor brakes are built from a variety of moving parts. They operate on air, which often delays the operation. The brakes require service air pressure to operate the foot pedal. The tractor’s ABS disrupts the service air pressure at a certain threshold, which releases the brakes and allows the tire to move.

Unlike tractors and trailers, car brakes have fewer moving parts. These vehicles operate on hydraulic pressure, which is faster than service air.

Can an ABS System Trigger Other Lights?

In simple terms, yes, depending on the type of vehicle you drive. For ABS lights on trailers, expect your ABS to trigger both lights for any braking-related fault. Two common lights that come on related to ABS are ESC and traction control lights (TCL). This is because they are all directly related to each other. If one of these lights is thrown without the ABS code, it may be best to go ahead and inspect the ABS module as well.

How Often Should I Inspect my ABS Control Module?

Drivers and fleet owners should have their ABS technology looked at least once a year. Test your braking system during annual safety inspections. For best results, make sure to plan an inspection after long trips, especially cross-country. For older ABS modules, pay close attention to wirings like tractor-side connectors, which may corrode over time. Corroded wires are a common issue, with codes throwing and disappearing, preventing truckers from properly assessing issues.

When Should I Replace My ABS System?

Upgrades are essential when you start to experience any of these flaws with your ABS module:

  • Unresponsive brake pedals – If you notice the pedal requires increased effort to achieve the same amount of braking force, then it’s a sign of a possible issue with the ABS module.
  • Excessive flashing of ABS lights – Much like a check engine light, an ABS light shines in an amber color. Sometimes the light turns on periodically to ensure the bulb and module are working. If the dash light doesn’t disappear on its own, then it’s clear that your ABS has a serious issue.
  • Brake lock-up – Faulty ABS modules may cause erratic brake behavior. If your brakes lock up under normal driving conditions, it’s time to tune up or replace your ABS. Look out for warning signs such as random clicking noises and irregular brake pumping.

Trust White Tank to Handle Your ABS Codes and More

When it comes to pneumatic truck and trailer support, there’s no better partner than White Tank and Truck Repair. Our experts service various types of tanks and blowers while supporting each fleet with the highest-quality brake technology. If you have doubts about your ABS module, you can count on us to diagnose the issue.

Contact us to support your vehicle with a comprehensive service inspection.

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