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Tag Archives: Antilock Brake System(ABS)

Car, Truck and SUV Repair Service Blaine MN

What does the orange ABS light being on mean?

Minnesota Car Repair and Maintenance MechanicThe Anti-lock braking system in your car, allows you to stop your car in very slippery conditions, while maintaining control. The ABS system automatically pulsate the brakes, allowing you to still steer the car. I have had many customers say they do not like anti-lock brakes. When asked why, they say it is the noises and they do not like the way the brake pedal feels.

When the anti-lock brakes need repair the orange ABS light on your dash is illuminated. You still have the conventional hydraulic brakes, so it is not a safety issue. The decision to repair this system or not can be difficult because of the cost. Because of the complexity of the ABS brakes there generally is extensive troubleshooting required. The ABS brake system is comprised of many components:

  • There is a speed sensor at each wheel, which generally is the most common failure. Speed sensors are expensive on their own and in many cases is part of the wheel bearing, even making it more expensive.
  • The speed sensors inform the ABS computer how fast each tire is turning. When stopping in slippery conditions a slipping tire will record a slower speed. At this time the ABS computer will be pulsating that brake so that you may maintain control.
  • The ABS computer activates a hydraulic pump (controller) to pump each individual brake.

Braking with ABS vs. Braking without ABS

Have you ever heard the saying ‘pump your brakes’? ABS takes away the need to do so. This is why many are uncomfortable when they first drive with an active ABS system or are use to an older car. It is the exact opposite if a driver that has always been driving with an active ABS system and it fails. This may cause safety issues as the need to ‘pump the brakes’ now applies but is not a natural reaction for them.

After some practice in a large parking lot most of their complaints are addressed. With an ABS system you firmly apply the brakes and steer the car to avoid the accident. It is a lot simpler for the driver, just keep the brakes applied. Or if you choose to leave your ABS brakes not functional, practice pressing your foot on the brakes, in short intervals when on slippery, icy or other conditions where stopping is being hindered. Either way, it is important to become familiar with how they work, we are happy to show you when you bring your vehicle for a free test drive to Clark Automotive.

Blaine Automotive Repair

Shop Location
9985 Davenport St. NE
Blaine, MN 55449

Phone: (763) 784-7944
Email: info@clarkautomotiveblaine.com

Shop Hours
MON – FRI 8:00 – A.M. – 5:00 P.M.


Auto Tune Up Blaine MN- Part 2

Check Engine Light RepairsClark Automotive is a highly skilled Blaine, MN Auto Mechanic Shop dedicated to providing only quality vehicle repairs. Our previously posted blog went into detail about Tune-Ups, this blog will be continuing that discussion – in order. Clark Automotive Clinic highly recommends that you read the first “Auto Tune Up Blog-Part 1“.

On modern vehicles, the dashboard usually serves as a trigger mechanism that their is a reason to bring your vehicle in for a tune-up:

PART Four: What is that Pesky Check Engine Light?

In general its appearance on your dash is to inform you that the computer has detected a problem, requiring a repair to the ignition or fuel systems. The problem is significant and caused by readings or sensing that is outside of the factory specifications. There are a couple hundred reasons for this light to be on, each being called a fault code. Each fault code has a diagnostic procedure that is many steps long and can lead to many different recommended repairs. Not all fault codes will generate a customer complaint, so the first thing Clark Automotive Clinic will ask about is what the observations of the customer are. As long as your vehicle is running properly, has full power, the alternator light not on, and not overheating you may proceed and get it scanned at your earliest convenience. If the car is not running right, immediate attention is required.

Clark Automotive Clinic will scan your vehicles computers for fault codes free. We will recommend a course of action, and suggest other actions that will support future decision making. If appropriate, we will record the codes and clear your computer and ask you to come back if the light turns on again.

We clear codes when we believe that the fault codes are erroneous and not fully true. We find that generally as a result of sabotage, the result of do it yourself repairs, or a failure of the charging system causing low voltage. When you continue to drive a car, with the check engine light on, you will not know if it is turned on for another reason. There is a point when unrepaired check engine light repairs will lead to other codes being set, further complicating the repair. Generally, most fault codes should be repaired, but there can be some cases were the expense outweighs the advantage of the repair, especially as your car gets older.

Yes, there are some cases when the check engine light repair can be deferred till a better time. Then again there are fault codes that must be fixed very soon, if not immediately. If the check engine light is flashing at you, the engine has a serious misfire and must be repaired immediately, to prevent destroying the very expensive catalytic converter.

Each fault code falls into three categories:

  • The first is called a pending (soft) code, some computer sensing’s out of specifications, but intermittent, the light may even turn off. It is still recorded in the computer for future diagnostic support.
  • The second type of fault code is called a current (hard) code. The computer is getting sensing consistently out of specification.
  • The third type of fault code is called a historic fault. There was a time when sensing were out of specifications, but in the past. Most historic codes turn off the check engine after a specified number of drive cycles. Not all fault codes turn on the check engine light, but are still recorded in the computer for diagnostic purposes.

When your car is running poorly and the check engine light is on we recommend that your vehicle be diagnosed and repaired. The reason being, when your car is running poorly it is causing other damage that will cost you even more latter. Not all problems will set the check engine light, but may cause you’re vehicle to not operate properly. There are at least three, if not five computers in the modern vehicle. All set fault codes, many of them not being allowed to turn on the check engine light.

Other Dashboard Lights

Some of these codes are so important that additional lights have now been placed in your dash. The Anti-Lock Brake computer will set the ABS light and the red brake light. The body controller will set the check vehicle soon light as well as other lights. The transmission controller generally sets the check engine light. The heating and air conditioning controller normally sets no lights, but can be scanned. The low Tire Pressure module will set the TPS light. Finally the traction Control computer has now even been given its own light. These all make for future articles.

If you see the check engine dashboard light on or any other dashboard lights on give Clark Automotive a call at 763-784-7944!


Complete Brake Service Blaine MN

Brake Repair Blaine MNAre your brakes squeaking, pulsating, grinding, soft, and/or squealing continuously? It’s time to get them serviced! All these noises mean different things, and our experienced technicians at Clark Automotive Clinic, located in Blaine, MN will help you identify the source of complaint, and get you back on the road at the most affordable prices. We will never oversell service, and promise to give you our honest opinion of only what needs to be done. Check our service blogs often to learn more about your vehicle and to keep her running year after year safely for you and your family.

Brake Services offered:

  • Bleed, Fill and Adjust Brakes
  • Rotor and Drum Resurfacing
  • Caliper Reconditioning and Replacement
  • Wheel Cylinder Replacement
  • New Master Cylinders
  • Brake Line Repair and Replacement
  • New Brake Hoses
  • ABS Diagnosis and Repair
  • Power Boosters
  • Parking Brake Service and Repair


Understanding Brake Calipers

As motor vehicle technology has evolved over the years, brake systems have gradually transitioned from the drum style brakes to disc brake systems once found only in race cars. Even today’s economy cars have disc brakes in the front wheels. The brake caliper is basically a hydraulic clamp that puts force on your brake pads, which create friction against the rotors in order to slow and stop your vehicle. The more force you put on the brake pedal, the more friction applied, and the faster you stop. Of course, you can push too hard, beyond your braking threshold, and lock the wheels, at which point the tires cannot do the work of gripping the road, and your vehicle suddenly lurches forward. Luckily if your car possesses an Antilock Brake System (ABS), this will alleviate some of that operator error and help shorten your stopping distance.

Understanding Caliper Pistons

Calipers create force on the brake pads by utilizing pistons which are operated by hydraulics via the master cylinder and your brake lines with hydraulic brake fluid. The number of pistons are determined by brake size, and caliper type. There are two types of calipers: floating and fixed. Floating calipers have at minimum just one piston on the inside of the brake, when activated creates pressure on both sides of the caliper because the caliper is floating on a pin. Fixed calipers require pistons on both sides of the caliper in order to put pressure on both pads, but have more gripping power. Modern calipers vary much in terms of size, stopping power, and performance. They can range from a single piston floating setup, to a 6 piston truck caliper like those found on the Toyota Tundra or Ford F-150, to 12 piston setups found on performance cars.

Understanding Hanging Pistons

The most common failure on brake calipers are hanging pistons. If your vehicle is pulling to the right or the left while attempting to travel in a straight line, it could be caused by hanging pistons. This is when the piston(s) fail to retract once your let up on the brake pedal, and the brakes are still engaged. A variety of factors can cause hanging pistons. Pistons are actually housed in a screw-type housing. Excessively warn pads will cause the pistons to “unscrew” to the point of no return. Also because the pistons are moving parts, rust, dirt, debris, and age could cause them to decrease travel and eventually seize.

This is a bad problem, as your brake pads are in continual contact with the rotors, causing excessive heat buildup, and in turn excessive wear on the pads, as well as the eventuality of warped rotors at best, and broken calipers at highway speeds at worse. If you suspect you have a hang piston(s), be sure to stop in and have us inspect your brakes. Brake inspections are free. It’s the safest thing to do if you suspect any issues with your brake system.

Call Clark Automotive today at 763-784-7944 if you need your vehicle’s brakes serviced or have questions.


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