1999 Chevy Malibu brake light AND ABS light

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  #1  
Old 01-16-09, 12:30 PM
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1999 Chevy Malibu brake light AND ABS light

Got in my car for the first time in a few days (btw it's 0 degrees here) and the brake light and the ABS light on the dash come on soon after starting the car. The brake fluid is at the full line under the hood. The brakes seem to work fine, but the ABS system doesn't work at all. A local mechanic around here where I go to college (in other words, not my regular mechanic back home that I trust) thinks it's probably the ABS unit computer and would be around $500-600. I think maybe a line froze or something like that due to the extreme cold. Would love to know what you think.

Thanks,
Dan
 
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Old 01-16-09, 04:10 PM
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Brake fluid will not freeze at '0'. Not sure the exact freeze point, but it's gotta be at least -60.

I would lean more towards a sensor, which takes a scan tool from GM to figure out.
 
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Old 01-16-09, 05:27 PM
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Yeah they thought it would be a sensor at first too, but they got no response from the ABS computer. And I know for sure the ABS isn't working because I purposely locked the brakes on a snowy parking lot and the ABS didn't work.
 
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Old 01-16-09, 05:32 PM
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One faulty sensor will prevent the rest from working.

Did they have a GM scan tool?
 
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Old 10-30-09, 08:51 AM
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They did have a GM scan tool, and since then, I've gone to a GM dealer and they got no response from the ABS computer and quoted me like.. $1000 for a new ABS module installed. I've found used ABS module/computer with ABS pump on Ebay for under $100, and I'm wondering how hard it is to replace it. I understand it's located in front of the front drivers side wheel well, right?
 
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Old 10-30-09, 09:28 AM
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Just a thought...but cars worked just fine for many years w/o ABS. Sure, it may affect emergency stopping and stability control if installed...but the solution for that is to drive more carefully. I'd wait til you get back to your regular mechanic...it sure won't be more broken than it is now.

btw was that 0C (32F) or 0F
 
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Old 10-31-09, 07:37 AM
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My regular mechanic couldn't do anything because he doesn't have a gm scan tool.

It was Fahrenheit.
 
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Old 10-31-09, 08:42 AM
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I definitely agree with the advice given by Gunguy45.

This occurred more that a few years ago:

We had several Chevy Blazers in our fleet and one of the drivers brought his in with the same ABS warning as you have.
After following the "troubleshooting tree" using our Official GM Shop Manual we came to the bottom line that said if "if Warning light is still lit to substitute the ABS Control Module with a known good unit".
We borrowed one out of another Blazer in our fleet and the ABS light didn't light up so we said OK - bad Control Module (computer).

Well we reinstalled the "good" module back into the vehicle where it belonged and the "bad" module back into its original car because we were going to order a new one and needed to get that car out of the way. Well the ABS light did NOT come on anymore and we didn't order a new Module and that Blazer was in our fleet for 5 years and we never had the ABS light come on again - and yes the ABS light did show with key in ON position before starting the engine so it wasn't that the bulb blew out.

I'll also add this about using Junkyard or recycled parts. I had a 1997 Honda Accord that had an ABS light up and I found that the that the brake fluid reservoir attached to the ABS Computer Module had a slow leak (betweenMod & attached reservoir) and was drained so low the it set off the Warnig light. I actually drove the the car for about a year topping off the reservoir every couple of months when the Warning light would come back on (you know about the shoemaker walking around with holes in his shoes!).

Well finally the leak got so bad that I had to replace the module. New at the Honda dealer was around $1200 - $1400. Rebuilt was $600, and an online search of used auto parts I found for $100. I bought the used part thinking that it was worth the gamble for $100 plus $12 shipping and the guy said he would guarantee it. It worked fine for the 2 plus years that I kept the car. No problems with it. There was a sign in an old auto junkyard the has since closed but it said "All Cars Run On Used Parts".
 
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Old 10-31-09, 12:25 PM
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WELLLL,

I have what you would call a PHD in electric diagnostic and repair on ABS units.

I would be willing to bet that your problem is not the unit but is a bad wheel bearing.

Malibu's are known for bad wheel bearings and broken springs on the struts.

If you jack up the front or back on either side and when the wheel is off the ground, try to wiggle the wheel up and down and side to side and more times then not the wheel will move on the wheel bearing. Most times the drivers side front wheel bearing is the first one to go.

The brake rotor and caliper mount will try to keep the wheel from falling off and will try to take up some of the wiggle.

The wheel will not fall off - usually, but the reluctor wheel - which looks like a gear which is mounted inside of the wheel bearing. When the wheel bearing goes bad, the wheel sensor will usually take out the reluctor gear and it will loose it's signal and the ABS light or brake light will come on - in the dash board.

Not all mechanic's are thief's and not all mechanic's are out to rip you off, but you can bet if he is trying to sell you a unit for $1000 that he is going to make $200 somewhere along the line.

Computers are nice when it comes to something simple where the computer can read the codes and tell you something like Misfire Bank 2, cylinder 2, or if a downstream oxygen sensor is bad.

But when it comes to something mechanical, the computer cannot see any further into the engine than you can.

Before you throw good money after bad, jack the car up and take the wheels off and try to wiggle the spindles and see if you can find some play in one or more of the wheel bearings.

This little suggestion might save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

Someone that works in a GM garage and does this sort of thing all day long gets to the point of where they see the same condition come through the door on a daily basis and can usually tell you what is wrong with it before they even jack it up.

It doesn't cost anything to go to the garage and ask one of the mechanic's for some advice. They could actually save you some money in the long run.
 
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