Fun with ABS...


Old 01-06-08, 05:00 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 27
Fun with ABS...

I had an interesting experience the other day. I was driving my ABS equipped '00 Hyundai to work at oh-dark-thirty, on a cold winter morning shortly after a bit of rain. The car in front of me touched his brakes, and I followed suit. I heard the ABS light up, and the car fishtailed a bit when I let my foot up off the brakes. I immediately noticed that both the ABS warning light and the red Brake warning light lit up on my dashboard. I let up off the gas and began coasting, looking for a place to pull over. When I found one, I gently touched the brakes to slow down, but just kept on going, and even began to skid a bit sideways. ABS was decidedly not working. At the time, the thought of ice on the road didn't even enter my mind. I just figured that my brakes were shot. I kept on coasting until I came to another turn-around and was finally able to come to a stop, although I almost overshot it and went into a ditch.

I decided to head back home and drive my truck into work, figuring that my car probably wasn't safe to drive. After limping along with my hazards on, using the transmission to brake, I finally did make it home. I tried to brake as little as possible, because I figured that there was a good chance that nothing would happen. The few times that I did touch the brakes, the car did slow down, but I didn't want to take my chances.

Driving my pre-ABS '88 Chevy pickup, I noticed a few cars in the ditch in the same area where my car was acting up. I also began to fishtail while accelerating, until I thought to engage the 4wd. Driving the next 10 miles was interesting, as there were quite a few serious wrecks, and traffic was crawling along at perhaps 10MPH, with plenty of distance between bumpers. Not a salt truck was to be seen. A drive that would normally take me an hour took me more than three hours to complete.

Yesterday morning, I decided to limp my car into the shop for service, figuring that I needed a serious brake job, since my dashboard had lit up like a Christmas tree. However, the drive in was uneventful, and after a few minutes the pretty warning lights on my dashboard were decidedly un-lit. I even hit the brakes hard a few times, just to see what would happen, but I stopped normally. The roads were dry, so the ABS remained silent.

The mechanics at my normal garage had a blank look on their face when I explained my symptoms, and said that they weren't set up to troubleshoot ABS performance problems. So, I headed on down to the Hyundai dealership, only to find out that apparently this was a known problem with Hyundais. The guy at the service desk told that when an ABS equipped Hyundai skids on ice, both the ABS warning light and the Brake warning light come on. It's a bit like one of those generic MS Windows warnings saying 'Something happened, don't do it again'. He said that they had several calls this week with problems identical to mine, after Monday's black-ice surprise. Neither the owners manual, factory service manual, or Haynes manual has any mention of this problem occurring.

Anyhow, I am hoping that the dealership wasn't blowing smoke up my (Anatomy), trying to get rid of me. You would think that he would be trying to ring in business, rather than drive it away. In the past they have proven themselves to be untrustworthy regarding warranty work, even though the warranty on this car tuned into a pumpkin five years ago.

So, in case this happens to me in the future, how do I get my ABS back? After I hit the ice the first time, the ABS did NOT light off, which could be dangerous in the future. Do I fix it the same way I do a Microsoft problem and just reboot the ABS computer (turn the car completely off, then back on again)? The ABS light was on when I started my car yesterday morning, although it went off after about ten minutes. Would ten minutes of idling do the trick, or do I need to drive a certain distance after restarting? I should have asked these questions at the dealership yesterday, but didn't think about it at the time.
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Old 01-06-08, 06:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 759
Just a guess but I'm thinking that perhaps the ice also built up on the surface (face) of your abs sensor, and the knotches on your drive axles, that the sensors use as their reference points, and the result was no signal to the sensor or sensors. Had a similar experience, ran to the car wash & blasted hot water all around the back side of the wheels , in the sensor & tooth area of shafts, and problem was cured when restarted. Don't know how they would overcome this problem off hand, except for maybe a small dome like cover over sensor, to possibly aid in keeping ice & slush from building up on the face of the sensor?
Old 01-07-08, 07:19 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 27
I think I figured out what happened. The first time I tried to brake on ice, all I did was touch the brake pedal. If the road was as slick as I think it was, I could have momentarily locked up all four wheels, which the ABS computer read as a malfuction. If that was the case, than a 'reboot' would clear the problem. The ABS light stayed on after restarting because even after reseting the computer, it still knew that there was a fault condition reported previously. I would guess that a few minutes of driving with normal ABS sensor inputs would clear the fault completely.

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