The battery is responsible for providing electrical power to all vehicle components, and the alternator’s responsibility is to generate it.
The battery and the alternator work together to generate and distribute electrical power to your music system, A.C., headlamps, wipers, power windows and whatnot.
But that’s not all. The battery also provides power to the traction control, the gear shifter in automatic cars, parking sensors, and many more.
We have ABS and its various sensors among all those sensors and components. A safety feature common in every vehicle contributes the most to a safe journey.
There can be incidents where the ABS light comes on with power-related issues, such as a weak or low battery. But, what does it mean? Can a low battery cause the ABS light to come on?
If yes then what does it mean? Does it affect your brakes? In some situations, ABS light can come on with a low battery, but it doesn’t mean the same thing every time.
Let’s dig deeper and find out how it all works and is connected.
What Is ABS Light Mean?
ABS stands for Anti-lock Breaking System. Its function is exactly how it sounds. It makes sure your wheels don’t lock up when the driver is braking heavily.
ABS also ensures the wheels don’t lock up when the driver has to apply intense break suddenly in case of an emergency.
ABS is also responsible for ensuring that the brakes provide effective braking even under wet conditions or on surfaces other than asphalt.
How Does ABS Work?
There are sensors placed in each wheel hub that sense every wheel’s rotational speed. It senses the rate of acceleration and deceleration that each wheel experiences.
Some other features and systems are dependent on the ABS and its sensors. Systems such as ESC (Electronic Stability Control) or VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), and TCS (Traction Control System).
The ABS has the following components that work in harmony to provide the most effective breaking;
- Speed Sensor
Speed sensors monitor the speed of the wheel under braking and compare it to the amount of brake pedal pressed. These readings help the ABS determine when to “kick in.”
The speed sensor records the car’s and the wheel’s speed and warns the system when the wheels are about to lock up.
This is a computer of the ABS that receives all the readings from the sensors and takes action in accordance with the readings. It controls all the parts of the ABS.
Valves control the pressure in the brakes by controlling the pressure in every brake line. It also relieves the pressure in the brake lines if the pressure is too high.
After the valves have relieved the pressure, the pumps generate pressure again to maintain the brake threshold in the brakes.
The controller uses the valves and the pump to make the brake pressure pulsate. It rapidly increases and decreases the brake pressure many times within a second.
Advantages Of ABS
- ABS helps in applying brakes most effectively without the wheels locking up.
- On wet surfaces, the tires are more prone to locking up and skidding, but ABS ensures no lock-up, even on wet roads or icy roads.
- When your brakes lock up under braking, the car starts skidding and loses control. When ABS prevents wheel lock-up, it gives the driver more control of the vehicle under braking to steer the car away from danger.
- TCS (Traction Control System), VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist), ESC (Electronic Stability Control), and EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution) are all reliant on ABS and the readings are taken and controlled by the ABS module.
What Happens When You Have Low Battery?
The alternator charges the battery, which distributes it to all the car’s components. The battery needs to be able to hold a certain amount of charge before it can distribute it at a particular voltage and ampere.
When the battery is weak or low, the battery is unable to provide electrical power at a specific voltage and ampere. It’s also unable to maintain a rate or threshold of charging and distribution.
This causes voltage fluctuation within the components inhibiting the components from working effectively.
How Does Low Battery Effect Other Components
The voltage fluctuation can even lead to a short circuit of the component. To prevent any damage, there is a series of fuse and relays which may break.
When the fuse or relay breaks, the circuit breaks, and the component no longer receives electrical power.
You may even notice that the A.C of the car usually “trips” or stops working when the battery is weak or low.
Similarly, all the components drawing power from the battery, such as ABS and its various sensors, might stop working or blow a fuse due to voltage fluctuation.
What Can Cause Low Battery?
If you have a weak alternator, it could cause your car to stall and die. The usual cause of a weak alternator is a damaged pulley but, there are other causes that are less common but can come to be after several thousand miles.
It is usually the magnetic core that has become worn, but a more common problem is wearing carbon brushes or slip rings that have carbon build-up.
Something like this can be avoided with regular maintenance. During maintenance, the mechanic always takes voltage readings to check the charging status of the alternator which reflects its health.
The battery light can also turn on due to loose battery and alternator terminals. Temperature variations, road debris, vibrations, and damage from the road all contribute to lose battery terminals.
Additionally, build-up on the terminals is frequently caused by weather, grit from the road, or battery acid. On occasion, accumulation on the terminals is also caused by leaking fluid tanks.
Maintenance and careful inspection can prevent terminal build-up and damage, which individuals typically overlook for extended periods of time. Oil changes and maintenance are handled differently; most individuals opt for oil changes rather than full maintenance.
The electrical circuit of the dashboard may be harmed in a number of situations. Due to a leak, this electrical circuit vulnerability results in an arc jump in the wiring.
Water damage from washing your automobile, humid weather, deteriorated rubber seals, salt water, heat from the engine, or heat from the environment can all cause damage to the circuit.
How To Fix It?
You may be able to get the alternator fixed rather than replaced if it is damaged.
Not all alternators can have their pulley changed, and not all mechanics are capable of doing so. However, if the pulley can be changed, it may cost roughly $150.
Carbon brushes and slip rings will require replacement.
Since the replacement is labour-intensiveBecause they, slip ring replacements might run you about $200 and carbon brushes about $100.
Terminals for the battery and alternator can be replaced for about $50.
Changing the circuitry or replacing the wiring is typically required to correct an electrical problem in the dash circuit. That ranges between $150 and $200.
Why Is My ABS Light On? What Causes It?
The ABS light is a feature installed in cars that come with ABS. This feature helps the driver be aware of the condition of the ABS.
The ABS light comes on whenever there is an error with the ABS. Whenever there is a problem with any of the components of the ABS, the ABS light warns the driver.
When the ABS light comes on, it means the ABS is no longer working, and the light warns the driver to apply brakes to get the problem diagnosed and fixed as soon as possible.
The light stays on as long as the ABS is not working, and will remain on until the problem is resolved.
How To Fix And Turn Off ABC Light?
You can diagnose the problem using the following steps;
- You will need to buy an OBD2 diagnostic tool which costs around $50. You can buy an expensive one with more connectivity features, but a basic one will do.
- Find the ECU or the OBD2 port of the car. It is usually secured inside the passenger glove compartment or the dash and has to be reached from under the dash.
- Plug in the OBD2 scan tool into the port and wait. If you buy an expensive OBD2 scan tool ($100 or above), it will have its own diagnostic app, which you can download on your phone or tablet.
- In case you buy a basic one, it will have a controller attached to it.
- After the scan tool has detected the ECU, select the “SCAN” or “RUN DIAGNOSIS” option. The device will communicate with the ECU, diagnose the electrical components and readings provided by sensors, and check for errors.
- After you get the ABS error, it will also show you an error code. Even though the ABS light can be on for various reasons, every problem shows a unique code in the diagnostic tool.
- Compare the error code to the car owner’s manual or look it up online to determine the root of the problem and how to remedy it.
- You can choose to do it yourself or have it done by a professional.
Other Reasons For ABS Light To Come On
The ABS light does come on for reasons other than just errors in the ABS.
When the driver is under intense braking or emergency braking, and the ABS activates or “kicks in”, the ABS light starts flashing to inform the driver that ABS has taken over.
The driver can hear a grinding noise, feel the brake pedal vibrate, and see the ABS light flashing. All of this should go back to normal after the brake pedal is released.
Hearing grinding noises or feeling vibrations in the brake pedal afterward should be checked out immediately.
The problems cause the ABS light to flash even under light braking or stay flashing even after braking.
There are errors when the ABS light stays on, but it doesn’t involve errors in the ABS. Such as a problem in the dash light circuit system.
Errors in the ABS sensors and speed sensors can cause the ABS light to kick in frequently, even when unnecessary.
Problems in the dashboard light include damaged circuit points and damaged wires. These cause arc jumps, light up the ABS, and cause it to remain turned on.
How Can You Check For These Problems?
Damage to the car dash circuit can be observed by looking at the dash and checking the fuse box. The problems in the circuit will cause other lights in the dash to come on, and it will blow some dash fuses in the fuse box.
The OBD2 diagnostic tool will also help determine which problems affect the ABS light. Each error will have a unique code, which you can use to remedy.
A low battery can cause several problems with different components of the car, such as the A.C., the lights and even the ABS. The ABS light can come on when the battery is weak or when you have a low battery.
A low battery can cause the ABS to stop working, which can cause the ABS light to come on. As long as there is a problem with your battery charging, it can cause the ABS light to come on every now and then.
With problems in the electric circuit of the dash or fuse, the ABS light can come on, and a weak battery can blow a fuse.
A blown fuse can cause the ABS not to work properly, which can also cause the ABS light to come on.
It is always better to get the ABS light checked out because that means the ABS is not working which can be a safety concern for the driver.