I have a 2000 Mercury Sable Wagon. A couple of weeks ago, I developed a growling noise in the front end. This noise ended up being bad wheel bearings. Along with the wheel bearings, my ABS light which recently would go on intermitently, come on and stayed on. While repairing the wheel bearings, my mechanic told me that the ABS sensor rings had split and were not attached to the axel any more. Two questions, 1) How does this happen, and can it be repaired without having to replace the axel shafts? 2) Is it dangerous to be driving the vehicle with the ABS light on? I know that the ABS is not working, but the brakes should function as normal brakes, correct? Any help would be appreciated.
Chances are the bad bearings caused the axle to overheat, end the sensor ring broke loose. You need to replace the axle to fix this. The ring is precision located and secured to the axle. Any other fix would still require the axle to be removed, so why not replace it.
It is no more dangerous than a car that does not have ABS. You’ll just be driving without that extra added benefit. The brakes will work as normal just like a car without ABS.
I had the same thing happen on both axles of my 98 Windstar. It would have cost more in labor to press new sensor rings onto the old axles than to replace with them with rebuilt units. One axle was replaced under warranty (35.6k miles) and the other axle was replaced by my mechanic at ~67k miles.
Another consideration: If your state has a safety inspection or emissions inspection you will likely fail if the ABS light is on or disabled.