Wheel speed sensor problems

Updated February 21, 2017

Cars rely on electrical and mechanical components to run the steering system. The wheel speed sensor helps regulate this system. Under certain circumstances, the wheel speed sensor can develop issues that must be addressed.


The wheel speed sensor is a device used in an ABS (anti-lock breaking system) to read the car's wheel rotation speed. Wheel speed sensors detect the rotation of rotors, which rotate together with axles coupled to each car wheel. Wheel speed sensors gauge wheel speed in revolutions per minute (rpm), and count these revolutions when the car brakes to ensure the wheel doesn't lock up, or stop turning.


A nonfunctioning or impaired wheel speed sensor can switch on the ABS light and disable traction and stability control systems. A malfunctioning wheel sensor can also cause abnormal breaking, which can be noticed at low speeds.


ABS system issues, like worn bearings and corrosion, can cause a wheel speed sensor trouble code to set. Such ABS system problems should be checked before replacing the wheel sensor. Repairs that require wheel removal can also damage the wheel speed sensor, which should then be replaced. A dirty sensor can cause abnormal breaking behaviour, in which case the sensor and sensor wheel should be cleaned.

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