ABS Warning Light-my creation - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-14-2005, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
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ABS Warning Light-my creation

OK, call me an idiot. I won't be offended. My 1999 Legacy wagon had a radiator dust shield fall off near my home. I found it and checked under the hood to see how it was mounted. In the process I also noticed the other side of the engine compartment was about to lose the shield. My solution was to use electrical wire ties (nylon) to secure them. For one shield I needed to drill a new hole since the existing hole was torn out. I did this in the metal brace below the radiator fan. OK, I did not realize there was a wire harness above this brace and my drill brushed against it. It did not feel like I did anything, but when I moved the car in the driveway, the ABS light came on after a few feet. I checked the wiring, and sure enough I contacted three wires in the harness. None of them looked like they were broken through, but I cut and spliced them (in the correct color sequence) to make sure. I also checked the two fuses related to the ABS system. Finally, I disconnected the battery to see if that would reset the light, but it is still on. It only goes on after I start moving the car. Initially on startup, it lights, but then goes out. Could I have shorted and burnt something out on the system? The keys were not in the ignition when I was making the repairs. Is there another place I could look for a reset button or something like that. I envision a several hundred dollar problem if I have to go to the dealer. Obviously, I have regular brakes, but at some point I plan on selling the car, and the warning light will certainly not be a selling feature. Thanks to anyone that may have a suggestion.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-14-2005, 12:09 PM
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Re: ABS Warning Light-my creation

Quote:
Originally posted by Walt_Pittsburgh
OK, call me an idiot. I won't be offended. My 1999 Legacy wagon had a radiator dust shield fall off near my home. I found it and checked under the hood to see how it was mounted. In the process I also noticed the other side of the engine compartment was about to lose the shield. My solution was to use electrical wire ties (nylon) to secure them. For one shield I needed to drill a new hole since the existing hole was torn out. I did this in the metal brace below the radiator fan. OK, I did not realize there was a wire harness above this brace and my drill brushed against it. It did not feel like I did anything, but when I moved the car in the driveway, the ABS light came on after a few feet. I checked the wiring, and sure enough I contacted three wires in the harness. None of them looked like they were broken through, but I cut and spliced them (in the correct color sequence) to make sure. I also checked the two fuses related to the ABS system. Finally, I disconnected the battery to see if that would reset the light, but it is still on. It only goes on after I start moving the car. Initially on startup, it lights, but then goes out. Could I have shorted and burnt something out on the system? The keys were not in the ignition when I was making the repairs. Is there another place I could look for a reset button or something like that. I envision a several hundred dollar problem if I have to go to the dealer. Obviously, I have regular brakes, but at some point I plan on selling the car, and the warning light will certainly not be a selling feature. Thanks to anyone that may have a suggestion.

There is every possiblity that you shorted out the chip that controls the ABS system. Even without keys in the ignition there is still current in some parts of the electrical system. Even if you had disconnected the battery the result might be the same as you didn't realize you contacted the wires and would have reconnected the battery and started the car with the bare wires still exposed. The ABS control module died in my pickup a few years ago and had to be replaced, cost was $600 parts & labor. I do believe there is more to it than just plugging in the new chip and disconnecting the battery to clear the code. I'm not 100% sure what the procedure is though. Your brakes will still work just fine but I wouldn't count on the ABS function working so be careful if you have any wet weather.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-14-2005, 05:11 PM
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Welcome to the board, Walt! Have you tested the ABS since then - found some slippery surface and tried a skid-stop?

If you had to replace the brain, couldn't that be a junkyard item? Or does this system fall under special safety rules like seat belts do?
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-15-2005, 06:49 AM Thread Starter
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Update on ABS Problem-Light is out

ABS warning light went out last evening. Light still works since it's initially on when starting the car, but it no longer comes back on when moving. As one replier suggested, I need some rain to test the brakes to see if the ABS really works. I still plan to repair my wire splices with butt splices so they are more permanent and weather resistant. That's this weekend's project. Currently I have just twisted the splices and taped with good electrical tape. Let's hope the brains or whatever reset itself after three days of driving, and I did not do any permanent damage. Thanks for the replies.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-05-2005, 12:04 PM
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OK, I know it's been almost 3 weeks since your post but I figured I'd throw my $.02 in and maybe give you a little peace of mind. It sounds to me like you nicked one of the wheel speed sensor lines (were the wires twisted together by chance?) because you only get the light once you move the car.

When you first start the car, the ABS goes through a "bulb check" where the system does a little mini-test on itself. If everything's OK, the lights go out and you're on your way. The ABS also checks a number of things like wheel speed sensors and inertial sensors the whole time the car is running. It expects to see certain signals from the car when it is moving and if they're not there or messed up somehow, you'll get a light.

If the yellow ABS light is on, your system is definitely not working; it's a federal government requirement. If the light is off, which it sounds like is now the case, you should be fine. Keep in mind that there are some extreme cases where you'll go into an ABS stop and the system will cut out in the middle but those are few and far between.

Forgive me for rambling on, I guess all I wanted to let you know was that even if the light comes back, there is most likely nothing wrong with your ABS module. Woodstock is right, they can be quite expensive to replace. Wheel speed sensors and wiring harnesses, on the other hand, are relatively cheap. Fix up those splices and you should be set for life.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-05-2005, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info. As an update, the light came back on a couple of days since my last post. I double checked the fuses and just this weekend made more permanent fixes to the wiring by using crimp butt splices. The wires were not a twisted pair or any other combination of twisted. I disturbed three wires. Two were around close to the same awg, and one was much heavier. I figured that was the 20A circuit for ABS only on the fuse box. Again, as you indicated, the light goes through a check and goes out, but when I start moving it comes back on and stays on. You are saying something that scares me. If the federal government requires it to work, our PA state inspection may also require it. Doesn't make sense. I have conventional power brakes that work fine. Even the Subaru manual indicates your brakes will still work as normal, you just won't have the ABS pulsating feature, and ABS systems today are mostly optional. Manufacturers are making them optional again to keep the car cost down.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-05-2005, 05:08 PM
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There have been times I wished I could flip a switch and disable my ABS, I'm too accustomed to modulating my brake pressure myself to enjoy stepping on a buzzer.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-05-2005, 10:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by The_Lizard
There have been times I wished I could flip a switch and disable my ABS, I'm too accustomed to modulating my brake pressure myself to enjoy stepping on a buzzer.
The ABS system may have a dedicated fuse. Pull fuse, ABS is disabled.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-06-2005, 06:33 AM Thread Starter
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There is a dedicated fuse

Correct. There are actually two fuses on my Subaru. One 20A dedicated to ABS and another 10A or 15A that is a combination ABS / Cruise Control.
I may considering pulling the 20A to see if that kills the warning light. It's annoying to look at, and I agree it's nice to do you own pumping if you're used to it. The ABS has only kicked in a couple of times for me in 40K miles of driving this car, and out of habit I still started pumping the brakes. Of course, my wife drove it for the first 60K, and it may have worked more often. She is a killer on brakes.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-06-2005, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
You are saying something that scares me. If the federal government requires it to work, our PA state inspection may also require it.
'Sorry man, I didn't mean to scare you. The federal requirement I was talking about was for the way the ABS warning lights work. Early on in the post it looked like there was some question whether the system still worked or not and all I wanted to say was that if the lights on, you've got no ABS. 'Sorry for the confusion.

'Not 100% sure on Subies but on North American vehicles, pulling the fuse won't shut the light out (more government stuff).

Shoot, from the way you described your problem, I really thought you'd be all set after you cleaned up the wiring. Maybe take the car by an Autozone or Murray's and have the codes pulled. At least you'll know what's wrong and they might even be able to clear the light. Good luck, and let us know how you make out.
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