View Full Version : Adventures in car repair

04-13-2014, 12:43 AM
Adventures in car repair…

So my wife comes home one day and tells me the ABS and the VTM-4 lights are on in the car. She wants the lights off.

So off to the internet to research what it means when the lights are on. Numerous sources state that one up to all the ABS sensors are bad and the computer can’t determine when to activate the ABS or when to engage / disengage power to wheels on the car.
So minor good news, the car will still run, won’t damage it; it will be like driving cars back in 1982 ( no ABS ).

The sensors are about $40 to $60 a piece and a pretty easy fix. Now what to do, just go ahead and spend the money and time to do all four sensors or try to figure out which ones are bad and just work on those.

Have a fair amount of auto parts store around me, so I drive it over there and ask if they can hook it up to computer to tell me which sensor is bad so I know what part to buy. They adblidge but the auto store computer can’t read ABS codes (crap). The guy mentions the repair shop behind them will read codes, so on our way we go.

Get over to the repair shop and I kind of get the sence the guys are wore out from working. I ask if I could give them a couple of bucks to read to codes on the car. The counter guy tells me it would be $65 for a diagnostic and it will take a couple of hours or he can take the hand held out to the car right now and read the codes for free (if the hand held will do it). So I agree and 10 minutes later I found out it was only the front right ABS sensor. I thank him for his time and now have a new shop to check out when I need work done I can’t do.

Now back to the parts store to get the part I need, the guy looks it up and not in stock and it will be 10 days for it to get here. Damn…wanted to do this today. Thank them for their time and go across the street to another parts store, same story.

Call the parts counter at the local dealership, they don’t have it. They get on the dealer locator and found the part at a dealership 70 miles away. It can be in town Tuesday, but I need to do it today. At this point it is 1 pm on Saturday, options are running out fast on getting this part today. So I call the dealership that has it, pay for it over the phone, have the part left with the sales manager and start driving out there. Make the trip out there and back and now it is time to get to work on getting this fixed and making the wife happy again.

Spent about an hour swapping out the sensor. It would have been a 20 minute job, but working on a 10 year old car with 220,000 miles of ware, the sensor was swedged into the hub housing. So that took some time to get it out. Breaking it out one small plastic piece at a time.
Taking it on a test drive, all the warning lights went off; but now have a new issue..the front left break is turning on the ABS when slowing down from 5 mph to 0 mph.

Just assumed it was the computer getting used to having one new sensor and three old ones. So I didn’t think much of it.

Well a couple of days after the wife driving the car and the issue continues and she is not happy with this different result. At this point I am checking all the fuses to see if there is one blown. Not seeing any issues. As a test, I pull out the ABS fuse and test drive the car. The brakes work normally without ABS.

Back to the internet for some advice. There was tons of advice. Everything from bad brake pads, warped rotors, to bad break fluid, bad tone rings, bad other sensors, transmission issues, etc… So the rotors have never been replaced and the front pads were down to about 30%, so decide to go ahead and replace them. The issue still continue…

Getting ready to bleed the brakes, a job I don’t want to do. Make one last research attempt on the issue we are experiencing. A lot of people mention the tone ring being damaged will cause this issue. So I decide to check them one last time before getting out plastic bottles and brake fluid. One of the tone ring articles I read mentioned that if the front left brake is acting up, it means the front right tone ring or sensor is causing the issue. A third article mentioned the gap between the sensor and the tone ring needs to be correct.

So I take the front right wheel off (where all this originally started) and start inspecting the tone ring. Spend about 20 minutes doing this and not seeing any issues. I check the gap between the sensor and the tone ring and there is a huge gap between the sensor and the ring. Pictures of similar setups show the two are much closer. So I start looking at the sensor I installed and it is not all the way into the housing. Crap! I get out a small wood dowel and tap the sensor all the way into the hub housing.

Put the car back together and test drive it again and all is back to normal.

So the big lesson learned is when working on older equipment, make every attempt to make sure every part is going to its correct location and make sure the work is done correctly before going on the parts treasure hunt.

04-13-2014, 10:26 AM
Quite an adventure! And don't always believe the guy with the Scanner device KNOWS how to INTERPRET the codes... My wife's '05 Corolla had a check engine light come on. Had one parts shop guy says the front O2 sensor is triggering the FAIL and need to replace the O2 sensor for $150... Stop at another shop and he too says front O2 error and says it is getting a LEAN signal. He tells me that it could just be bad gas or water in the gas, and resets it for me (they rarely do a reset). I buy some gas conditioner and fill up the tank with new gas. No Check Engine light so far... Wife drives it to work next day and she said it stalled on her as she was braking. It restarted and ran fine after that. It has not stalled or error coded since then. So all it was was some water in the gas that envetually got sucked up and burned, causing the LEAN condition...

Moral of the story: Parts guys are NOT technicians and THINK before replacing parts... Problem could be something simple...


04-13-2014, 11:05 AM
i miss i pre 80's trucks..

"darn...breaks are mushy.."
out comes the bleeder kit,,,new fluid..maybe a cylinder gasket or kit.....

my old 66 fj40..had a leaky brack cylinder..make that two, each am. check fuild..pump breaks,add fluid..drive...one side would lock if slammed..so you'd do the break tao,,down shift special....all with no power breaks or steering. if i drove that truck now id prolly deem it a suicide ride lmao!1

04-13-2014, 04:06 PM
Yes, but haven seeing more accidents than I care to see, I really do LOVE the modern air bags and crumple zones in modern cars and trucks... So many walk away with minor injuries from a car crash that used to be a death sentence in the 80's, and even back in the big car 50's...

And ABS and Stability Control really do work in winter weather driving...

Modern vehicles are a technological marvel compared to the Camaros and trucks of my younger years... But there is a price to pay, in more ways than one. But I pay it so I have LESS chance of getting mangled when someone else does something stupid...