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Old 05-15-2010, 10:42 AM   #1
bo130
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Default ABS problem

Hi everyone, I am noticing a new problem with my 02 SL2. I would say about 1/2 of the time that I apply my brakes, the ABS system engages. I do not know if the system or one of the sensors is failing, but any advice would be appreciated.

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Old 05-15-2010, 03:30 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: ABS problem

ABS activating while braking indicates one of several possibilities, none indicating a problem; excessive speed above what road and/or weather conditions allow or worn tire(s). Aggressive driving and braking can create conditions allowing ABS to turn on. A small car like a Nissan Sentra turns on ABS easily with moderate braking when I drive it. I suspect the worn tires and light weight of the vehicle to allow braking to occur rapidly with ABS onset sooner than my L300 weighing a bit more and having to stand on my brakes before ABS activates. Each car with ABS will exhibit different personalities when their ABS activates. None will ever activate because of a faulty ABS sensor; any faulty sensor is either detected when the ignition is first turned on or at anytime while driving - all sensors are continuously monitored and if any one fails the entire ABS unit is immediately disabled with the ABS/TC indicator turning ON without ever pressing on the brake pedal. This occurs automatically. Not when brakes are applied. You may be confusing ABS operation from its ability to detect and disable itself from interfering with normal braking if any one wheel sensor/wire/circuit fails.

What you haven't described was whether or not you're pressing hard on the brake pedal that activates ABS and if this occurs on wet/slippery/gravel/uneven surfaces or if driving faster than road conditions permit for safe stopping. There's a small percentage or margin of error that ABS has to account for uneven tire wear resulting in slight wheel speed errors; the ABS computer is constantly reading wheel speeds from all four sensors to calculate when it can turn on ABS or traction control. In one sense, ABS needs the brake switch signal and one brake already locking up before it activates. Since all four wheel speed signals are continuously being generated above say 5mph, the ABS computer can tell if one wheel sensor is faulty; this is where it will do one of two things - continue to monitor in standby or detect a fault and immediately disable itself from activating and turn on the ABS light to warn you that ABS can no longer provide this extra margin of braking safety. Brakes still work as they always have but without the benefit of even braking that ABS contributes to. In other words, w/o ABS you can press hard on the brakes and expect any wheel to lock up at any moment. Old school braking requiring some finesse to prevent wheel lock up.

With all this out of the way to understand ABS operation somewhat, there's a very small possibility of ABS activating sooner if one wheel reluctor (teeth) is covered with debris between its teeth and interfering with the wheel speed sensor. It would have to be covered with metal filings; the wheel speed sensors are basically proximity sensors that senses each toothed portion of a reluctor. Some reluctors can easily be seen for inspection (mine on my L300) to determine if debris is filling in the cavities to interfere with signal generation. An incorrect wheel speed signal can be interpreted as either a faulty speed sensor (that causes the ABS computer to disable itself) or its too small to deactivate ABS but may cause early ABS activation. The question of when ABS activates and what road/weather conditions exists at the time of activation must be answered before determining if ABS is coming on sooner and unnecessarily. I'm speculating here as this is a very narrow margin of error that is either already thought out by brake engineering or dealt with by routine brake maintenance.

...
*The CPS is the heart of the entire EFI system. No cps = dead EFI system*
*There's more to a/c than just a few cans of refrigerant*
*There's more to brakes than just replacing parts*

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Old 05-15-2010, 06:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: ABS problem

At what speeds is the condition occurring? Is the abs light on?

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Old 05-16-2010, 11:10 PM   #4
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Default Re: ABS problem

Thanks for the replies. Sorry for not putting in more information. The ABS operation is happening under normal, non-slippery conditions, nor hard braking. It's happening roughly 1/2 of the time under normal everyday driving conditions. The ABS light is not activated.

There is one thing to note: This problem did start following a transmission flush/refill. I am entirely speculating when I say this, but when the problem first started to occur, I thought that there was a possibility that some transmission fluid ended up on the rotor and/or wheel, and that some of the fluid was perhaps causing some confusion for the sensor. The technicians doing the flush worked some hoses close to the wheel well. Again, pure speculation. But, the problem has persisted for many months following.

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Old 05-16-2010, 11:35 PM   #5
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Default Re: ABS problem

During these braking events, are you feeling the ABS "foot massage" (best description I can come up with)? That's where the ABS motor, valves and electronics will begin pulsing whichever brakes are necessary to prevent lock up while applying braking simultaneously. If you do feel the brake pedal pulsing then its entirely possible that if transmission fluid contaminated any brake pad or shoe, uneven braking from contaminated brakes can cause the ABS to work as designed. In this case if the brakes are contaminated with transmission oil and ABS is activated, the brakes need to be repaired/replaced. Poor workmanship, spilling oil onto brakes is no excuse whether done by week end wrenches or full time mechanics.

I cannot think of any other reason for inadvertent/premature ABS activation based on your descriptions. I'm certainly no expert on ABS and welcome any other opinions to explain this.

...
*The CPS is the heart of the entire EFI system. No cps = dead EFI system*
*There's more to a/c than just a few cans of refrigerant*
*There's more to brakes than just replacing parts*

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Old 05-17-2010, 07:43 AM   #6
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1996 SL2
Default Re: ABS problem

One of the ABS reluctor rings are cracked. They are located on the axles outter joint. This is a common ABS problem for this year.

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Old 05-17-2010, 12:48 PM   #7
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Default Re: ABS problem

There is no of the typical ABS "pulse", but there is the feel and sound of the system doing its "buzz" noise. In regard to the reluctor ring(s) - are they relatively easy to replace? I'm not a heavy-duty mechanic by any sense. My experience has been limited to front brake/rotor replacement, belt & idler pulley, ect.

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Old 05-17-2010, 01:26 PM   #8
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Default Re: ABS problem

I just checked with my local auto shop. They recommend that the axle be replaced. I'm assuming they're just talking about the outer cv assembly. I do not know if they're saying this to eek out more money in a repair job, or if it's really wise to do a complete replacement. Any advice along these lines would help.

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Old 05-17-2010, 01:43 PM   #9
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1996 SW2
Default Re: ABS problem

The whole axle/shaft costs little more than just the joint, and that's if you can even find the joint by itself. And going with the whole axle makes it a bolt-on job, something you could do in an open driveway with hand tools. For that matter, the decommissioned part could be recommissioned on a non-ABS car.

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Old 05-17-2010, 01:49 PM   #10
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Default Re: ABS problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
The whole axle/shaft costs little more than just the joint, and that's if you can even find the joint by itself. And going with the whole axle makes it a bolt-on job, something you could do in an open driveway with hand tools. For that matter, the decommissioned part could be recommissioned on a non-ABS car.
Thanks, Madpouge. So I am assuming that it would be a relatively easy job to complete. I guess I would need to hunt down posts on how this is done. Thanks to all who have helped me here.

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Old 05-17-2010, 05:06 PM   #11
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Default Re: ABS problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrewCab View Post
One of the ABS reluctor rings are cracked. They are located on the axles outter joint. This is a common ABS problem for this year.
That's what I was thinking.Probably the cheapest route would be to get one from a salvage yard or buy a new aftermarket shaft.

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Old 05-17-2010, 06:15 PM   #12
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Default Re: ABS problem

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Originally Posted by bluesl2 View Post
That's what I was thinking.Probably the cheapest route would be to get one from a salvage yard or buy a new aftermarket shaft.
Rockauto has Cardone half-shafts for $50. I've decided that I am going to inspect both shafts this coming weekend (I have to replace a wheel stud) and see which (hope not both) side has the damaged ring.

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Old 05-17-2010, 07:35 PM   #13
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Default Re: ABS problem

One final question: Will I be able to inspect the reluctor ring without having to remove the axle hub/bearing?

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Old 05-19-2010, 08:54 AM   #14
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2002 SL2
Default Re: ABS problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by bo130 View Post
One final question: Will I be able to inspect the reluctor ring without having to remove the axle hub/bearing?
Yes. Only removing the wheels is good enough to give you access to check the reluctor ring.

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