What Happens when a Wheel Speed Sensor goes Bad?

If you’re running on automatic transmission then a defect on your wheel speed sensor will tell on the efficiency of your car.

The main function of the wheel speed sensor is to relay the rotational speed of the wheel to the PCM which balances the data and relays it to components such as the speedometer, ABS module, and other transmission systems.

Once the wheel speed sensor goes bad, the PCM will no longer be able to get accurate data that’ll help it help reduce the car speed in the case of emergency thereby turning off features such as the anti-lock brakes.

Ignited ABS warning light, incorrect speedometer readings, vibrating brake pedals, and disabled traction and stability control are other symptoms of a Bad wheel speed sensor.

Without wasting much time, let’s learn about wheel speed sensors and what happens when a Wheel Speed Sensor goes Bad.

What is a Wheel Speed Sensor?

The wheel speed sensors are an important component of the car’s anti-braking system, their main function is to monitor the movement of the front and rear wheels and make sure all 4 wheels are running at the same speed with the aid of the ABS sensor.

One of the speed sensors called the passive sensor is responsible for relaying analog signals to the Anti-Braking system while the Active sensor receives and records the signals using a magnetic pulse sensor.

Recommended:  BK Automotives Review - BK Automotives LTD

The active sensors are more rigid and have the ability to resist electromagnetic interference, they can also work in extreme weather conditions and decipher the direction of the wheel spinning.

Continue reading to review 5 symptoms of a Bad wheel speed sensor.

Symptoms of a Bad Wheel Speed Sensor

Explained below are the symptoms that often accompany a Bad wheel speed sensor.

1. ABS Warning Light ignites

The speed sensors gather information about the car’s speed with the help of anti-braking sensors from the rotation of the four wheels.

The Anti-Braking system relays this information to the power control module which in turn checks and balances it.

If the PCM can’t balance the input and output data given by the Anti-Braking system, it’ll turn on the ABS warning light.

This means that the ABS is sending the wrong data because of a Bad wheel speed sensor.

This could also mean that the sensors are clogged with dirt or mud, disconnected, or worn out.

You can take your vehicle to an auto repair shop for inspection since there are other issues that cause the ABS warning light to come on.

2. Incorrect Speedometer Readings

The speed sensor helps the PCM to help the speedometer provide accurate readings.

You’ll either notice that your speedometer is at 0MPH or reading abnormally high.

3. Vibrating Brake Pedals

Since the function of the wheel speed sensor is to make sure the four wheels are running at the same speed, it helps create balance when the brake pedal is compressed.

However, if your wheel speed sensor goes bad and the PCM is unable to get accurate data, it’ll assume that your tire is sliding without control.

Recommended:  P0304 Engine Code: Causes, Symptoms and Fix

This will result in a vibrating effect when the brake is applied.

4. Anti-lock Brakes Disabled

The anti-braking system helps driver engage their brakes in emergency situations. Once the wheel speed sensor goes bad, they’re usually the first to be disabled by the system.

If the driver applies brakes with the anti-lock brakes disabled, it’ll trigger the wheels to kick and cause skidding.

5. Traction & Stability Control stops working

Traction and stability control helps the driver maintain stability in the case of emergency steering maneuvers.

This works well when plighting slippery roads by reducing the effect of friction on the tires.

If the traction and stability controls stop working due to a defect in the wheel speed sensor, it will be hazardous to drive through rough road parts.

Reasons why Wheel Speed Sensors go Bad

Listed below are the main reason why Wheel Speed Sensors becomes faulty.

  1. Accumulation of dirt, debris, or mud – this will block the sensors’ ability to send signals
  2. Internal sensor Failure
  3. Damaged sensor tip
  4. Excess impact of heat
  5. Different tire sizes – this will cause the tires to rotate at different speeds

Can you drive with a bad-wheel speed sensor?

Yes, but it isn’t advisable for your safety and that of other road users.

Since a Bad wheel speed sensor makes it hard for the PCM to detect your car’s speed, it will likely lead to skidding and increased brake and engine power.