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Old 07-04-2005, 11:55 PM   #1
Sethuofo
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Default ABS light and noise please HELP

Hello, For over a year now i have had an ABS problem in my 95 Subaru Legacy LS Sedan. When i drive over any large pothole or bump, my ABS light comes on, I have read about how on ICE the ABS can do this, but this happens very often, just about every day. It will turn off after I shut off and restart my car. I have had no luck getting this fixed, does anyone know about this problem...Oh yeah and when the light turns on and try to use my breaks there is a kind of grinding noise coming from what i assume is one of my front breaks, the noise will last for a few seconds, and then it feels like my ABS is turned off??!? i have no clue whats goin on. Any help would be great thanks!
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Old 07-05-2005, 02:48 AM   #2
Al_Smokemcrack
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The ABS light should only be on briefly when you start the car as the controller is doing its power-on self-test. If it comes on at any other times, something's broken, or at least the controller thinks so. When the light's on, the ABS has shut itself off. The "grinding" sound you speak of very well could be the ABS going. Mine sounds kind of like a grind-buzz-whirr sound, an "RRRrrrrRRRrrrRRRrrr" type thing, while the pedal vibrates like crazy.

The problem here, though, is that the ABS is somewhat of a black-box item to the DIY mechanic and, frankly, many professional mechanics. They are very complicated and any oddity from them should be handled by a professional. You really need to have the ABS unit hooked up to one of those dealies they have that talks to ABS controllers and finds out why they're mad. Honestly, this may end up costing you more than a used ABS controller out of a junker. You could very well try getting one and replacing yours with it. According the FSM, you should be able to just take the old one out, strap in the new one, hook up the lines and connectors, bleed the brakes normally and be good. You don't require a pressure bleed, so it says. If you have a friend handy, you can probably get this done in a couple hours.

Regardless, you really need to have this problem at least identified. Brakes are something you should never, ever skimp on. Don't buy the cheap parts and if there's ever a doubt as to whether they're functioning properly, stop driving the car immediately. Flaky brakes can become broken brakes in record time. At this point, you go from happily driving to steering a hurtling ton-and-a-half piece of steel that can and will kill you and anyone nearby.
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Old 07-05-2005, 02:53 AM   #3
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Hmm. I just came up with an idea while rereading your post. Are all four tone wheels on the backs of the hubs still firmly connected? If one's loose or something, it could cause odd readings when hitting a big bump that would could possibly piss off the ABS controller. Incidentally, I'd also check the Hall Effect sensors while you're down there; they're the little doobies that actually "listen" to the tone wheel as it turns. They are mounted near the wheel and kind of point at it. You should recognize them when you see them. Make sure they're securely connected and that their wires are okay.
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Old 07-05-2005, 06:59 AM   #4
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Since it was working before this problem began, it’s probably just an ABS sensor on one of the front wheels, or the ABS ring may be bent as mentioned. I’d start by isolating which front wheel is making the situation occur, then tear into it.
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Old 07-05-2005, 08:58 AM   #5
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On my 92 LS wagon when the ABS light came on you could look under the passenger seat where the brain was and read a code. Count the number of flashes and I think chiltons had the list of codes. Mine was easy, fix the leaky sunroof and the computer would stay dry and work!
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Old 07-05-2005, 09:11 AM   #6
Charlie-III
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Hmmm......good points above.

I suggest jacking up the car and removing each front wheel.

Check the tone ring (behind the rotor shield near the hub) for junk/crud, as well as missing pieces.
Also make sure the speed sensor is solidly attached and each one looks like the others. Look for cuts in the cable than comes off of it. The speed sensor is a cylinder ~5/8" diameter (IIRC) and maybe an inch long.

Check fluid levels, possibly do a full brake bleed including the caliper piston.

Take 2 aspirin and post in the morning.
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Old 07-05-2005, 09:55 AM   #7
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i was going to say check the brake fluid level as well...some vehicles the abs light would come on when brake fluid was low.
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Old 07-05-2005, 10:13 AM   #8
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I would say it is a wheel speed sensor.
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Old 07-31-2007, 02:40 PM   #9
SteveinVa
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Default ABS control unit

I know this is probably the wrong thread/forum to ask this question but as a new member I'm having trouble starting a new one. I have a 2000 Legacy wagon with an ABS light on and for the life of me can't find the control unit. Is it under the front passenger seat? I've looked under both front seats from the front and back and don't see anything that even remotely looks like an electrical component. Also I don't see any flashing LEDs. Can someone tell me where to find it.

Also I understand that a recall was announced on the 2000 Legacy ABS unit. Does that mean the deal will replace it for free?

Thanks a bunch

SteveinVa
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Old 07-31-2007, 02:59 PM   #10
runninstrong
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveinVa View Post

Also I understand that a recall was announced on the 2000 Legacy ABS unit. Does that mean the deal will replace it for free?
If it was recalled, take it to the dealer and make sure it is taken care of ASAP, they will honor all recalls, no matter what year.
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Old 07-31-2007, 04:38 PM   #11
SteveinVa
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Any chance you know where the unit is located?
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Old 07-31-2007, 05:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveinVa View Post
Any chance you know where the unit is located?
It's behind the center console. You'd have to remove the gearshift trim, ashtray, center console fascia and probably the radio to get at it.

However, I might possibly be mistaking that module for the SRS module or the transmission control unit.

Last time I recalled, most of the "brain boxes" are either up underneath the driver's dash or behind the center console.
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Old 08-01-2007, 12:44 PM   #13
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i have the same issue, my abs light is on and i think the noise is coming from my front right wheel, when i break i hear like metal to metal grinding noise and since i have slotted rotors mybe its coming from there?

i also would like to mention that when i tried to put on my spare tire, there was more tread on the bolt and couldnt get the spare on tightly. wtf is that lol mybe i got wrong rotors?
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Old 02-05-2008, 01:26 AM   #14
smallv
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Default Best soloution to your ABS Brake Light problems

Solution:
If you open up the fuse box under the hood, look for the relay labled ABS. Remove this relay. There is enough room between relays that you can just leave the relay floating inside the fuse box before you close the lid. Now your ABS light will always be on and you will be driving a much safer vehicle. Subaru brakes performance is far superior without ABS in fact rally drivers routinely disable ABS brakes in order that they have braking power on gravel roads.

The grinding noise of which you complain is just the normal sound that ABS brakes make as they interfere with your ability to slow down/stop. In diverting fluid away from the brake pistons and pushing back on the brake pedal, make no mistake, the ABS system is preventing you from slowing down. The theory is that it’s better to take longer to slow down and maintain steering control but braking distance suffers considerably. The effect is less noticeable on dry pavement because not to many daily driving events require four wheel lock-up to avoid a collision. However on slippery surfaces the increase in ABS stopping distances is significant. Mid 1990 accident statistics from the US demonstrated that cars equipped with ABS brakes were slightly less likely to drive into the back of a vehicle but considerably more likely to drive off the road. I suppose when drivers realize that they have no brakes but plenty of steering control, some will elect to drive off the road instead of striking the vehicle in front. In other circumstances, being unable to scrub off speed prior to a turn means that the vehicle will hit the curve two fast and ditch. There was an early 1990 W5 expose on ABS stopping distances. They tested a pickup truck with rear-only ABS and found 20 extra feet need to stop from about 30 miles per hour (I'm going from memory so this is approximate) The same episode highlighted the deaths of two police officers who died crashing into a ravine because they had no braking power available heading into a turn. The officer’s were in radio contact during a pursuit and could be heard saying the brakes were out just seconds before the fatal crash. Today's brakes are 4 wheel ABS so the loss of braking power affects the more crucial front wheels that are generally responsible for 80 - 90% of braking power.


Background on my experience with ABS Brakes:
When we purchased our first Subaru legacy in 1995 it was only a few weeks before I had a near death experiences with the ABS brakes. We live in Ottawa Canada and Roads are often icy.

Breaking distances are always longer with ABS brakes. However the Subaru ABS braking distances seem to become exponentially longer as the surface becomes more slippery. On icy roads and especially snow covered ice, the ABS brakes effectively eliminate all braking power. A quick thinking driver can override the system with the use of the hand brake -- In doing so it becomes obvious that ample traction was available for stopping and that the ABS braking system was only serving to deny the drive the opportunity to make use of the available grip. The day I discover this back in 1995 I immediately pulled the ABS relay. Since then I have convinced many drivers to do the same simply by taking them to a slippery parking lot and showing them how they can toggle from no brakes to instant stopping simply with the hand brake. A few stopping tests with and without the ABS relay easily convinces most drivers that their stopping power is severely impaired by ABS brakes. On slippery services the difference averages about 20 - 30 feet when stopping from 60 km/hr. On very slick surfaces, the difference can be over 100 feet or however long it takes to reach a patch of dryer pavement.

More recently, we purchased a new 2008 Outback in Buffalo and drove the car back to Ottawa Canada. I forgot to pull the ABS brake circuit. Just days later, my wife ended up coasting helplessly through a red light, narrowly missing one car,, passing behind this car and, squeaking just clear of getting broadsided by the next vehicle--a large truck. The roads were icy and the ABS prevented all brake engagement. It was a very close call. Obviously, I disconnected the ABS immediately.

These are inexcusable brake problems and I have written to Subaru on the subject a number of times. I am happy to drive with no ABS but I worry about all the other Subaru drivers who have not disconnected theirs. I recall a "Subaru customer testimonial" that appeared on the Subaru web site back in 1996. This was the story of an outback drive let his friend drive for a while. The guest driver drove the car straight into a ditch on a downhill gravel road that ended in a turn. Despite a broken shoulder blade and considerable damage to the vehicle, the owner wrote glowingly about how easily the outback drove itself out of the ditch and on to the hospital. Reading the story and in light of my own experience, I felt it was quite likely that the ABS brakes were responsible for putting the 1996 outback into the ditch. The customer testimonial attributed the accident to the driver being a "City Slicker". However, stopping quickly on gravel requires a certain amount of wheel lock so wheels that never lock mean little or no deceleration. The situation is much the same on icy roads. I'm also aware that all Subaru Rally Racers disconnect their ABS Brakes for safety reasons. I’m also quite certain that ABS brakes are never placed on F1 cars and other racing vehicles.

I still think Subaru's are the greatest cars anywhere but it is disappointing that over 10 years after I wrote to Subaru to complain of the problem, the same deadly circumstance persists. These cars have virtually unlimited forward traction on glare ice. It gives them the power to get up to cruising speed on surfaces that leave lesser cars spinning and crawling. For this reason there is an even greater need for Subaru's to have stopping power.

I've found similar problems with ABS Brakes on many different vehicles. Subaru's are not alone. The problem is more significant for Subaru drivers because we have no problem accelerating only to discover that the brakes are ineffective on the same surface.

Take my advice. Pull your ABS relay. It may someday save the live of yourself or a loved one or at least save you a trip to the body shop.

Are there any downsides to disabling ABS?
If you feel you are an incompetent driver who will lock-up the brakes and keep them locked throughout a skid then perhaps keeping the ABS may some day provide you a benefit.

Pulling the ABS relay means that if you mindlessly jump on the brakes on a slippery road, you will skid—If you are driving a Subaru--so what!. Thanks to all wheel drive, you can recover from such an act simply by easing off on the brakes for an instant – voila, you straighten out.

There are a variety of techniques for emergency braking. A four wheel lock-up works best on gravel with brief reprieves to regain alignment with the direction of travel. Threshold braking is best for dry pavement but toggling between lock-up and threshold braking can help you to stop even sooner. You’ll need some clearance to the right and left for the sway of a brief skid, if so locking all four wheels is guaranteed to scrub off the most speed. Pumping the brakes is a very poor approach and its the technique to which ABS stopping distances are often compared. Sadly, pumping the brakes with the ABS relay disconnected often stops significantly short of a pedal-down ABS stop. Feel free to try it yourself on deserted gravel road or an icy lot.

PPS
2008 Outbacks seem to have cruise control co-fused with the ABS system. Pulling the outback ABS Fuse also disables cruise control. I'm looking for a way to circumvent this. Our 2008 Forester has the same set-up as the 1995 legacy. Pulling the Forester ABS relay only disables ABS with no other side effects.

Kind Regards, Paul
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Old 02-24-2008, 07:31 PM   #15
ran2
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Cool ABS Brake Tweak

Paul,

Thanks for the ABS information. I have a 2003 Legacy and from day one, the darn thing has scared the crap out of me with it's lack of stopping ability when the ABS kicks in. I too almost went through an intersection that was coated in sand and gravel. The moment you hit the gravel the car would actually speed up. I griped to the dealer but they told me that was normal ABS functions.
This was my first car with ABS and I have always had big old boats, 67 Impala, 70 Impala, 73 Nova etc, and have always done well with non-ABS brakes.
Today I put new pads and rotors on, had a clunk on the drivers side.
Came to this site found info for the clunk, fixed that with the retainer clip and then found the info for the ABS. THANKS A MILLION! I took out the fuse and went romping out in a new subdivision that is covered with snow and ice and I feel I have a much more predictable stopping results. Threshold breaking baby! It's back to the old school way of breaking for me!

Thanks Again,
Ron
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Old 04-18-2008, 02:22 AM   #16
smallv
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Default Solution to Subaru ABS Problem

Hi Ron:

Thank you for trying my proposed solution and validating that Subaru ABS is safer when disconnected.

Pass it on, fewer Subaru's driving around without brakes is a good thing.

I love Subaru's--hate the ABS.

Hopefully Subaru will get of their buts and fix it someday (its only been 18 years).

New Zealand Subaru reprograms all of their ABS Modules so that thier drivers get some stopping power on their mostly gravel roads.

http://www.subaru.co.nz/Technical_Lab/News/index.php?article=682

North American and European drivers deserve the right to stop as well.

As a 2008 Outback owner, I'm a little bitter that I have to choose between cruise control and reliable brakes.

Paul
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Old 04-18-2008, 10:04 AM   #17
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It is good to point out that those dissatisfied with ABS performance can disable it. However, I don't think it is appropriate to try to convince all Subaru owners they are going to be better off with it disabled. Especially here in the midwest, a vast majority of drivers fall under this category:

Quote:
Originally Posted by smallv View Post
If you feel you are an incompetent driver who will lock-up the brakes and keep them locked throughout a skid then perhaps keeping the ABS may some day provide you a benefit.
All you have to do is drive down the highway for an hour. The most common emergency maneuver I see is "Omg! Slam brakes all the way down and jam the steering wheel hard in some direction avoid whatever I'm about to hit!" And then you wonder how people end up with the front end pointing the wrong direction on the Interstate in dry weather/broad daylight.

Last edited by jey; 04-18-2008 at 11:35 AM. Reason: Grammar
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Old 04-18-2008, 11:14 AM   #18
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The other issue is that ABS systems are designed to allow you to steer AWAY from trouble, without locking up the wheels. If you lock up your wheels, you cannot steer.

This is the simple reason why ABS systems "lengthen" the stopping distance because the idea is that you cannot simply just "stop". You will lock up and slide. So which is better, steering away from an emergency event while decreasing your overall speed, or simply slamming the brakes and holding on, hoping you can haul up before the impact?

I like my ABS. It's saved my ass a couple of times on icy roads and intersections when I was able to steer away from the rear end of another car.
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Old 05-04-2008, 01:49 AM   #19
smallv
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To learn more about the dangers of ABS please follow this link:

http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/kil...er-risk-by-51/
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Old 07-07-2008, 10:58 PM   #20
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To be honest. I totally disagree with this thread. There have been many life threatning events that were avoided with ABS on my 93 Legacy. My father would have gotten into so many accidents if he didn't have the abs. Atleast he was able to slow down to some degree and at the time was able to avoid the obstacle!! You are forgetting the point it is not just stopping, but the ability to steer!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:42 AM   #21
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It's well known by pretty much everyone here in NZ that subie ABS is useless in anything but perfect conditions, lol. When i first got my GT (first subie with it) i said to a mate i was going to test it in the wet to see what everyone was on about, and his reply was "Well, it was nice knowing ya!" I don't think it's that bad, but I haven't driven the car long enough to know it's stopping potential, so have yet to touch the ABS system.

On that note, I had one of those "Oh SHI-" moments today. Came round a bend at a good pace, to find an SUV half way through pulling out of a drive straddled across my lane. The surface was damp (not wet though) and cold too. But the ABS hardly even kicked in, let alone reduce the braking distance... I guess it wasn't enough of a moment for me to have slammed the pedal to the floor.... It did do it's thing, but only just, i guess i was only on the edge of ABS territory...
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Old 07-08-2008, 11:27 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smallv View Post
Pulling the ABS relay means that if you mindlessly jump on the brakes on a slippery road, you will skid—If you are driving a Subaru--so what!. Thanks to all wheel drive, you can recover from such an act simply by easing off on the brakes for an instant – voila, you straighten out.
This is completely wrong. Subarus handle EXACTLY the same as any other car when braking or coasting. AWD ONLY has an effect when power is being applied to the wheels. If you ease off the brakes in ANY non-ABS car with locked up brakes you will recover traction.

You will definitely have more control if you're steering around something and need to gas it in a Subaru vs. other non-AWD vehicles.

And you will also definitely have more control if you're steering around somthing while on the brakes with ABS vs. without. Plain and simple. ABS was designed to make the average driver safer - because nowadays, the average driver NEVER practices panic stops and evasive maneuvers in their vehicle. The average driver has no clue how their car will react. Imagine somebody who's never locked up the brakes on a non-ABS car in ice for the first time... I am imagining them in the ditch or the hospital.

Aaron
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Old 07-08-2008, 08:15 PM   #23
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I have a 95 legacy LS sedan also..
My ABS is on at all times..
And sometimes when i start the car and put it in reverse or something to back out of somewhere or pull forward..something in the brakes seems to F up and the pedal feels as if it gets stuck on something and make kind of a grinding noise while the brakes almost stop working, then it just somehow pops back into place and they work fine for the rest of the time..?

It only does it once in a while and only lasts a few seconds..But my ABS light is always on...?
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Old 07-08-2008, 08:33 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReubenH View Post
It's well known by pretty much everyone here in NZ that subie ABS is useless in anything but perfect conditions, lol.
That really is one-eyed comment Reuben. I would have expected better from one of my compatriots.

ABS is not useless. It does its job by allowing you to steer while braking heavily.
When people point out that ABS units lengthen the overall braking distance you have to laugh because that's obvious. What's the quickest way to shorten your braking distance? HIT SOMETHING. That'll slow you down.

Locking up the wheels and scrubbing off rubber on the pavement will work too I suppose. I prefer to hit the brakes and make the car turn away from trouble. Can't do that if the wheels lock up.
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:53 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LookAsubie View Post
I have a 95 legacy LS sedan also..
My ABS is on at all times..
And sometimes when i start the car and put it in reverse or something to back out of somewhere or pull forward..something in the brakes seems to F up and the pedal feels as if it gets stuck on something and make kind of a grinding noise while the brakes almost stop working, then it just somehow pops back into place and they work fine for the rest of the time..?

It only does it once in a while and only lasts a few seconds..But my ABS light is always on...?
If your ABS light is on, that is an indicator there is something wrong with the ABS system and that it is not working. Sounds like it could be one of your speed sensors went out, which is fairly common. When one of mine went out the brakes would be weird like you described the first time I applied them after starting the car too since it thought that one wheel was not moving. Then the system detects the issue and turns off ABS altogether so you still have relatively normal braking operation in spite of the problem...
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