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Chevy Prizm 98 ABS Light

The ABS light on my Chevy Prizm 98 comes on when I start the car and then turns off in a few seconds. The last few days the light does not go off the entire time the car is running. The light does not flash it just stays on. It’s never done this before. Does this mean I have an issue with my brakes? I replaced the front brakes last year but I’m fearing/dreading rear brake replacement. I have no signs that they need to be replaced but am wondering if the ABS light is telling me I’m reaching the rear brake replacement day. Any ideas?

You will need to have this looked at right away. The first thing I would do is check your brake fluid reservoir to see if it is low. Assuming your fluid is not low (or you bring it up to the proper level) and the light is still on then someone will need to read the ABS code to see what the system is saying might be wrong. The code will likely point to a bad sensor or a bad ABS controller. There is no way to know what the issue is unless you post the codes that the mechanic extracts. Good luck. This could get expensive.

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The ABS doesn’t tell you when the brakes need replacing just when the ABS has failed. Agree with @bloody_knuckles, check the fluid level, the light may be tied to the level sensor IF this car has one. Have it scanned for errors so you know what the error is.

Others may and will disagree with me but on a car this old, if the ABS has failed, just ignore it as long as the brakes still stop the car OK. Pull the ABS fuse so it doesn’t try to do anything at all and tape over the light if it bothers you. The ABS is designed to fault to the base brakes as long as the ABS modulator itself doesn’t have a leak.

This car is old and not worth much. Replacing the ABS would not be worth the effort nor the money BUT drive it like a non-abs car - old-school, pump the brakes to avoid skidding

Remember that if you have to pass annual safety inspections the car won’t pass with the ABS light operating.

If you don’t, Mustang’s post is truly a solution… I’m not a fan of ABS anyway. However you should know that it’s likely to be a simple wheel speed sensor and that’s pretty affordable to get replaced. You may want to at least get it diagnosed and get an estimate before making a decision.


Good point @the_same_mountainbik state inspections may fail this on this. Never lived in a state with a safety inspection, myself.

It could be a simple wheelspeed sensor.

IMHO and based on all available data, state inspections are highly overrated (read: a farce) anyway. You haven’t missed much. :grinning:

Glad I haven’t missed it. I was exposed to the warm fuzzy feeling of emissions inspections, however. It was very painful to watch roller testing of my manual trans car being tested by some mouth breather who could barely drive a stick and did not know if it was FWD or RWD.

Lost faith in the results when a buddy’s 22 year old 180,000 mile Olds Omega that leaked and burned oil so fast he never changed it, only added the waste oil from his good cars, passed a roller test. He returned the carb rebuild kit, spark plugs, cap, rotor and wires he bought to justify a 2 year waiver if he spent $50 and it still wasn’t fixed.

The program was cancelled after 15 years because it had NO effect on local pollution levels, none.

Thanks everyone for your input. I keep hoping she’ll never die but I know the day is approaching. Hopefully it’s not a huge issue and I’ll get some more time out of her. She’s been a great car with very few issues. Also my first car was an 83 olds omega. I was with her until the bitter end as well.

That’s my guess too.