Dashboard AntiLock Brake Light Remains on


I have a 1996 Buick Century with 17,400 miles. Today the Antilock Brake Light Remained on while I was driving, but my brakes worked fine. I had new front and rear brakes 1/06. I also have had a problem with the automatic window rising. It raises part way and then after a while raises to the complete closed position. I am suspecting an electical problem. What do you think?


The light is telling you that the ABS has a fault and may not work properly. Your regular brakes work fine but you may discover (at a very bad moment) that the ABS is not functioning as you rear end someone or drive off the road in slippery conditions. An ABS light needs to be diagnosed by a qualified technician with a code reader, usually the dealer, and then addressed immediately.


The warning light is telling you that there is some sort of malfunction in your ABS (antilock braking system) and the antilock feature is presently inoperative. You will continue to have normal braking, however, so there is no cause for alarm.

To restore the antilock feature you must bring your car to a mechanic who will diagnose the problem. Repairs are often costly so many owners decline to authorize repairs. Their cars will continue to be used through their normal lifespan without ABS. This is an acceptable solution. Not everyone is convinced that ABS is particularly effective.

The window problem may be elctrical in nature but it could also be mechanical. There may be slippage in the regulator mechanism. To determine the reason, someone must remove the inner door panel to examine the workings.


It is unlikely that brake work in early '06 is related to a mid-'07 ABS light. The complex ABS units are very expensive to repair/replace so you may want to pass on that, but it should be inspected for safety reasons. The light is telling you that the system is either not working or that there is a fault detected, such as one wheel turning at a different speed (mis-matched tires, etc.) or a wheel sensor is not functioning. It is not necessarily the main ABS unit. These are very reliable and seldom fail in any vehicle.

The window may be the result of a binding track or regulator mechanism. It may respond to a simple silicone spray in the track. Has the car been damaged in the past on that side?


Thanks for all your advice. It made me feel at least safe to drive today. However, today, NO Warning lights at all. Just the normal driving dashboard. I am baffled and so it is off to the mechanic Monday.


Yes, you can drive pretty much safely without the ABS working. However, if your state has safety inspections, or even emissions inspections*, you might have to get the ABS repaired to pass inspection. (And simply disconnecting the warning light will not fool the inspection.)

ABS repairs can be costly, but one common problem is not too expesive to fix: wheel speed sensors. In fact, sometimes this problem can be fixed simply by cleaning the “tone wheels”.

In any case, the car’s computer (or maybe the car’s separate ABS computer??) has saved the failure codes that will say what the computer thinks is wrong with the ABS. Autozone, for example, will read the codes for free, and you can post the info back here and get further expert advice. Or you can take the car to a trusted mechanic who will read the codes and advise you about repairs.

*(Yes, even emission inspections. In Maryland they will not do the State emission inspection if any of the warning lights are on. That’s why I had to get the wheel speed sensors replaced in the hand-me-down '94 Taurus before I could take it in for inspection.)