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My dealer said the ABS light on all the time was no problem when I bought the car in 2003. When it didn’t pass inspection, dealer said bring it to them. Now, Mass. says - no lights on dashboard - and new dealer says $900 + 2 hrs. labor. Question - Maybe ABS never worked, which is fine with me. It’s just a normal car. Can I - or mechanic unscrew bulb - and if I’m used to not having it, what’s the problem - other than me saving over $1,000?? My inspection is in September.

Dealers will say anything to sell a car. The fact that the light was on should have been a giant red flag. Have you been driving with the light on for six years?

If the ABS light was on the ABS was not working all along. The light comes on to warn you that the ABS isn’t working.

The ABS light should come on when you turn the key to “on” and go off after the engine starts and the ABS computer goes through its self-check. That’s the problem with removing the bulb, which no legitimate mechanic will do. If the light doesn’t come on first, then go off, the people at the inspection station will know it’s been tampered with and the car won’t pass.

What’s the $900 for? Are they saying it needs a new computer? Maybe the problem is with a wheel speed sensor, which is much less expensive. Did they test anything or just quote you a price?

I’d get another opinion from someone other than a Subaru dealer.

Thank you for your quick reply. Hindsight is great. Every other car here is a Suburu so who thought I would get taken!! Remember the remark about Nixon! The dealer said $900 was for the part. I think I’ll be learning more about ABS than I thought! My question still is - if I did without it for 6 years, why do I need it? I drove years without it before I bought this car. Just because the description says it has one, why not ignore it?? I will go on Car Talk for a mechanic in the area.

I never said you needed it, I only said they won’t pass the car if the light isn’t working correctly.

I, too, drove for years without ABS. I don’t feel like I “need” ABS, but both of my cars came with it. If the ABS computer on either car died I’m not sure I’d replace it, but I don’t know how that would work at inspection time in my state. If the ABS has to be functional I guess I’d fix it.

How did you get through inspection until now?

When it didn’t pass inspection, I took it back to the dealer and they said - no problem, we’ll inspect it. I did that until this year when I found that Mass. passed a law saying no lights on the dashboard - hence the problem. I called an independent mechanic who said only the dealer can take care of the ABS so I gather that is that.

Call another independent mechanic. This problems does not require the dealer to diagnose and correct. What the dealer did in telling you “no problem, we’ll pass it” was dishonest, unethical, and illegal. As a licensed inspection station they cannot and should not pass a vehicle with a glowing ABS light.

The “fix” could be as simple as a new wheel speed sensor, but that’ll have to be determined hands-on.

I agree that ABS is unnecessary, and IMHO overrated, however since you have it you need it functioning properly to pass inspection. If this dealer is still in business I’d recommend reporting him to the state. He could, and in my opinion should, lose his license to do inspections.

I will. Unfortunately, after many years in business, the dealer sold the business to someone else, who has been helpful - but said $900!! I will ask about a wheel speed sensor as well. Thank you for all your help. I’ll let you know what happens.