Dodge Challenger ABS & Traction Control Light On: Causes & How To Reset

What turns Dodge Challenger ABS and traction control light on? The light will illuminate the dashboard if there is a fault in the system.

ABS and TCS are safety features in your car that complement each other. The former prevents wheel-lock under heavy braking conditions. On the other hand, the latter improves traction and stability when driving on slippery roads. If there is a fault, dashboard lights come on.

The most common causes of ABS and TCS lights coming on include bad wheel sensors and faulty ABS control modules. Read on to find out more!  

What Is The ABS And Traction Control System?

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

Anti-lock Braking System or the ABS is a safety feature installed to prevent wheels from locking up during braking conditions. Its dashboard symbol is a yellow/amber light that illuminates ABS inside parenthesis. It turns on when you start the engine but should go off once the system check is complete.

ABS light can persistently stay on if there is a problem in the system. You can drive your car with the light on, but have your vehicle checked by a qualified mechanic or authorized dealer when you have the opportunity.

How does ABS work? This system gives you steering control when it senses a possible wheel lock under braking conditions. So, how does it achieve that?

The system relies on wheel-mounted sensors to detect how fast the wheel spins. If one rotates slower than others when you step on the brake pedal, the system interprets it as a possible wheel lock. ABS pumps the brake at the slow-turning wheel to keep it spinning and prevent skidding, which gives you steering control under heavy braking conditions.

ABS and TCS lights
The ABS and traction control light will illuminate the dashboard if there is a fault in the system.
Credit: Maxwell Meyer (chargerforumz.com)

Traction Control System (TCS)

A traction control system or TCS is another safety feature on your Dodge Challenger. The system has existed in cars for decades, but it only became a standard requirement in 2011 and newer vehicle models. But what is it, and how does it work?

TCS is a safety feature that helps to keep traction between the tires and the road. It is useful when driving on slippery roads. The system achieves that by limiting how fast the wheels turn, which keeps the wheels in contact.

The working principle of a traction control system is straightforward. Like ABS, it also uses active wheel sensors called yaw sensors. Each wheel has one of these yaw sensors that monitors how fast the wheel spins. It compares this data with the speed of your car.

If one or more wheels spin faster than the car’s speed, the tires will lose traction or contact with the road. That can lead to skidding or hydroplaning. But before that happens, TCS comes in to slow down how the wheel spins to regain traction. The traction control dashboard light will be blinking at that instant to show the system is doing its work.

TCS can remain on 99% of the time. But if you are stuck in the mud, snow, or sand, turn it off. It will limit the wheel speed, which is undesirable in these conditions.

Can I Still Drive With The ABS And Traction Control Light On?

Yes, but it is not recommended. Let’s recap what these two safety features do on your Dodge Challenger. ABS prevents wheels from locking during heavy braking, which gives you steering control. On the other hand, TCS enhances traction and stability when driving on a slippery road.

When ABS and TCS dashboard lights come on and stay on, they indicate a fault in these systems. It means you lose their functionalities, which can leave you in danger.

First, try resetting the lights by turning off the engine and restarting it later. If the dashboard lights go off, the issue was probably due to a fluke in the system. You are safe to drive on. But if they persist, there is a permanent fault that you should fix. Your vehicle is safe to drive, but you should be cautious, especially when driving on slippery surfaces or around a bend.

If the ABS, TCS, and brake lights are all on, it indicates a total failure of the braking system. Your car is not safe to drive. Just pull over and contact your mechanic. It is highly-risky driving with a system failure like that.

Read more: Blown Head Gasket In A 5.7 Hemi Engine: Symptoms And Causes

Dodge Challenger ABS And Traction Control Light On: Causes And How To Fix

ABS light comes on temporarily when you start the engine but should go off after a few seconds. If it stays on, there is a problem in the system.

On the other hand, the TCS light does not come on at the start. Instead, it will flash on and off when triggered by the road condition. That only alerts you that the system is doing its work as it is designed to do. But if it stays on, it indicates a fault.

So, what can cause ABS and TCS dashboard lights to come on and stay on? The following are the most common reasons:  

3 Causes Of Dodge Challenger ABS And Traction Control Light On
Check the causes of Dodge Challenger ABS and TCS light on to fix them as soon as possible

Bad Wheel Speed Sensors

Both ABS and TCS rely on wheel-mounted sensors to monitor the rotation of individual wheels. If one or more of these sensors become faulty, the system functions stop. That is because it will not be getting the data it needs.

Usually, only one out of the four sensors develops a fault. So, you need an OBD2 scanner to know the culprit to replace. A professional mechanic can help you for $135-$250, including labor and the cost of the replacement part. But if you are a DIYer, you can do it yourself for about $100.

Use an OBD2 scanner to identify the faulty wheel speed sensor. Once done, proceed as follows to replace it:

  1. Jack the vehicle and remove the wheel.
  2. Follow the ABS line down to the bottom where the wheel speed sensor is located and unbolt the ABS line from the chassis.
  3. Remove some bolts on the splashboard to pull out the ABS line from the sensor.
  4. Disconnect the ABS sensor from the harness and pull out the wheel speed sensor.
  5. Clean up the area using brake cleaner before reinstalling a new wheel speed sensor by following these steps in reverse.
  6. Start the engine and ensure the ABS light goes off. You may need a test drive to ensure everything is fine.
ABS Speed Sensor Replacement

Faulty ABS Module

A faulty ABS module also causes the dashboard symbol light to come on. That’s why both TCS and ABS lights mostly come on at a go.

Once again, use an OBD2 scanner to identify what’s acting up between the ABS control module and wheel sensor. If the module is the culprit, your mechanic will be happy to replace it for about $1,000. You can save $200 if you use a DIY approach.

Use the following steps if you want to replace the ABS module yourself:

  1. Locate the ABS module. You can refer to your car repair manual for more information on where it is located. Usually, it has many brake lines connected to it.
  2. Once you know where the module is, lift the vehicle and remove plastic covers, panels, or other components to expose the unit.
  3. Depending on your vehicle model, you may only need to remove the module when the solenoid is still bolted on the car. Sometimes you need to replace both as a unit. If you only need to remove the module, skip step 4.
  4. Release the brake pressure, disconnect electrical and brake lines from the module, and remove the ABS module and solenoid as a unit. Next, unbolt ABS from the solenoid. Skip step 5 if you are not replacing ABS and solenoid as a block.
  5. Remove electrical connectors from the ABS module and unbolt the module from the solenoid block. Be gentle and patient as you pry the module off the block.
  6. Install a new ABS to the car by following the above steps in reverse. Once everything is in place, program the new ABS module to the car and bleed the brake lines. Restart the engine and test-drive the vehicle.

Turned-Off System

A switch on the dashboard allows you to turn TCS on or off depending on the status. The TCS dashboard light will remain on if there is a fault in the system or if turned off. 

If the latter is the case, you will have a message on the display screen telling you that the Electronic Stability Control is off. That’s when you should turn it back on using the control switch. It is usually a button with a picture of a car and wavy lines behind it. Just press it once, and the message and TSC light should go off.

On the other hand, ABS remains on all the time. There is no provision to turn it on or off because of its vital role in your car.

Read more: Can You Engage Tow/Haul Mode While Driving?

Causes Of Dodge Challenger ABS Light On

Your Dodge Challenger ABS light can come on due to different reasons, which include the following:

3 Causes Of Dodge Challenger ABS Light On
There are 3 causes of Dodge Challenger ABS light on

Blown Fuse

ABS is one of the many electronic systems in your car that relies on the electric power from the car’s battery to work. Electric current gets to it through a fuse. So, if the fuse is blown out, no electrical power gets to the ABS, leading to the system shutdown. PCM detects this problem and activates the ABS light.

ABS engine box can be found on the engine compartment on the passenger side or a car’s fuse box under the glove box. Refer to your manual to know where yours is if you want to replace the blown-out fuse yourself. It is a straightforward task if you have the right tools.

Low Brake Fluid Level

An ABS braking system relies on the braking fluid to control the braking pressure. A braking fluid reservoir exists to hold the ABS fluid. If there is a leakage or air bubbles in the system, the ABS light may come on.

This problem is easy to fix. Just top up the brake fluid, and the ABS light should go off. In case of air bubbles, contact your mechanic for ABS brake bleeding.

Defective Hydraulic Pump

A hydraulic pump is the actuate activated by ABS to increase braking pressure to stop a wheel from spinning faster. Over time, it wears out and fails to respond when commanded by the ABS. The ABS module detects that as a fault and triggers an ABS light on the dashboard.

A defective hydraulic pump or valve needs replacement. Contact your mechanic or go to an auto repair shop if you can’t handle it yourself.

Causes Of Dodge Challenger TCS Light On

If your TCS light comes on and stays on for a while, it indicates a fault in the system. The common causes include the following:

4 Causes Of Dodge Challenger TCS Light On
Here are the reasons why the TCS light comes on and stays on for a while

Bad Steering Angle Sensor

A steering angle sensor, SAS, is located in the steering column. It is used to measure the angle and speed of the steering wheel rotation. TCS uses this sensor to determine the intended direction of the car. So, if it malfunctions, the TCS light comes on. You will also experience other stability control problems, which confirm a faulty TCS.

A steering angle sensor problem can also cause heavy steering or a strange driving experience after wheel alignment. It would be best to replace the sensor for about $120-$250 for the replacement part and $80- $250 for labor at an auto repair shop. We recommend hiring a mechanic because this task requires experience and an appropriate diagnostic tool.

Faulty Steering Rack

A steering rack in a Dodge Challenger is attached to the steering wheel and plays a crucial role in a power steering system. It makes steering effortless and smooth, which is required for proper traction. If this component is faulty, steering becomes harder on rough and slippery roads. That can cause the TCS light to come on.

A faulty steering rack is also associated with loose steering, shaky steering wheel, excess slack, and the wheel’s failure to return to the center. These symptoms tell you that it is time to replace the steering rack. Take your car to an auto repair shop or call your mechanic.

Computer Issues

A computer program controls TCS, but it can develop a glitch or error over time, requiring reprogramming. These computer errors can also result from a manufacturer’s oversight or defect. The traction control light will come on if your vehicle runs into such issues.

Computer issues require reprogramming. This is a very delicate procedure that only professionals should handle. Contact a specialized mechanic or an authorized dealer to help resolve computer issues that triggered the TCS light.

Bad Road Conditions

TCS should maintain stability and traction when driving in slippery road conditions. However, this system can be overwhelmed if the road is too icy or slippery. It becomes too challenging for it to maintain traction and stability.

You can do nothing much if your TCS fails to keep up with the bad road conditions. The dashboard light will stay on until you get to a better surface. But you can reduce the work of TCS by installing winter tires if you live in ice-prone areas. These tires have better traction than ordinary all-weather tires.

After diagnosing what turned the ABS and TCS lights on and fixing the problem, you need to reset them. Using a scan tool to clear the error code is the best way to do it, but there are some workarounds. Check them in the next section!

Read more: Dodge Charger Cranks But Won’t Start: Why? How To Fix It?

How To Reset The ABS Light?

Resetting the ABS and TCS is necessary when fixing the problem that activates the dashboard lights. It ensures these safety features are ready to protect you once again when on the road. So, how do you go about it?

You can reset your ABS light by using the following steps:

Step 1: Turn off the engine and disconnect the positive cable from the positive battery terminal to cut off power to all electrical systems. 

Next, step on the brake pedal and hold it down for a few minutes to drain any residual electrical power in the electrical systems. Reconnect the positive cable to power up your car once again. That procedure should permanently reset the ABS light.

Step 2: The ABS light may still come after completing the first step above. Check your ABS sensors and replace worn-out ones if that’s the case. 

Do that by unscrewing the sensor wheel-hub mounts, unplugging the wire, and installing the replacement sensors. You should reset the computer again after this step, as outlined in the first step.

Step 3: If the ABS light stays on after steps 1 and 2, determine what activates it. Do that by plugging an OBD2 scanner into your vehicle’s diagnostic port. 

The scanner will read the error code that keeps the light on. Use that information to determine the cause and fix it as appropriate. Other braking system components may be the culprit. So, check and replace faulty or worn-out parts.  

How To Reset The TCS Light?

The TCS light should go off after fixing the problem that caused it. But if that’s not the case, follow these steps to reset it.

Step 1: Drive your car long enough to allow its computer to gather enough data on TCS and determine if it is working or not.

Step 2: Check if the system is turned off. You can accidentally or deliberately deactivate TCS using a button on the dashboard. That will keep the TCS light on until you reactivate it. So, ensure the system is active.

Step 3: Check the wheel sizes. TCS needs to get the same data from the wheels, which is not the same if you have installed wheels of different diameters. This situation can trigger the TCS light because the sensors deliver conflicting information.

Step 4: Drive moderately to allow the TCS light to turn off. It may stay on if you are going too fast because the TCS is coupled with the stability program.  

Step 5: If the above steps did not reset your TCS light, use an OBD2 scanner to perform system diagnostics to identify additional problems that may be causing it. You may need a qualified mechanic to help you for the best result.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix The ABS And TCS Light?

The cost of fixing ABS and TCS varies significantly, depending on the component to be replaced and diagnostic tests required. Typically, it can range from $60 to $1,000. It will be cheaper if it is just a blown-out fuse. Other components or parts may cost more and take a longer time to fix. Your location can also determine the labor charges. Fortunately, you can resolve most ABS and TCS-related problems yourself if you have the right tools and equipment and save on labor costs.

Conclusion

ABS and TCS are safety features in your car that prevents wheel-lock and improves traction and stability when driving on slippery roads. When there is a system fault, a respective dashboard light comes on. The causes vary from a malfunctioning wheel speed sensor to a faulty ABS control module. You should fix these problems as soon as possible to stay safe on the road.

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