Ford Explorer ABS Light On

Ford Explorer ABS Light On: Common Causes and Resetting Solutions

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has listed the Ford Explorer as one of the safest cars. But what happens when you see its ABS light constantly illuminate that car’s dashboard? Naturally, it will make you concerned for your and your family’s safety. 

So, why is your Ford Explorer ABS light on? The main reason is that the wheel speed sensor is facing some sort of issue. Proper cleaning and replacement of the faulty sensor can fix it. The other reason might just be with your module, brake fluid, wires, battery, or even tire. 

Here, we will dive deeper into the common issues that may trigger ABS warning lights in your Ford. Moreover, we shall also discuss some easy solutions. Read on to find out how you can properly treat it!

Table: Possible Causes and Solutions For Ford Explorer ABS Light On

Causes and Solutions For Ford Explorer ABS Light On

Here is a quick overview of the issues that might be causing your ABS light to flicker.

Possible Causes Solutions
Faulty Wheel Speed Sensor  Check the faulty sensor by reading out the error code
Clean the debris, dirt, and mud
Replace the sensor 
Bad Control Unit or PumpReplace the pump or hydraulic circuits
Clear the code
Low Brake Fluids Refill the Fluid
Inspect and fill in any leak
Wiring or Connector ProblemsCheck for any damage 
Replace the required wire
Bad Relay or FuseReplace it with a specific AMP rating
Problems with the Regulator or Tone RingClean the lower portion of the car
Broken Steering Angel Detector Professionally diagnose and replace the sensor 
Week Battery Switch it with a more powerful one
Low Tire Pressure Pump air into your tire

Ford Explorer ABS Light ON: Cause and Solution 

The ABS prevents the wheels from locking up during hard braking or in slippery conditions. But when the ABS light continuously flashes on in your dashboard, it means that ABS cannot function properly. Here are the detailed reasons and solutions. 

Ford Explorer ABS Light ON

1. Issue With the Wheel Speed Sensor

The wheel speed sensor monitors the rotation speed of your tires and sends the info to the control module. But this sensor gets damaged pretty easily because it is situated right near the wheels. When that happens, the system cannot forward that information. 

Over time, dirt, water, mud, and debris can hamper its work capacity. And the ABS light will flicker on your dashboard. 


Now, to mitigate this, you will have to go through a few steps: 

Step One: Inspection

You can’t manually inspect the sensor circuit in your Ford Explorer. You need an OBDII scanner for that. After you attach the scanner, read the error code. The fault codes in Ford Explorer are usually either or all of these codes: 

  • C0035: Fault in the front left wheel speed sensor
  • C0040: Any issue in the front right sensor 
  • C0051: Damage in the rare right detector
  • C0045: fault in the rare left detector 

Step Two: Cleaning

Regular cleaning with washcloths may sometimes solve the issue. After that, clear the ABS code in the OBDII. 

Step Three: Replacement 

Even after cleaning and resetting the code, if you still see the light, sadly, you will have to replace the sensor like this: 

  1. First, park the car, engage the emergency brake, and lift it on the jack stand.
  2. Remove the wheel and disconnect the wiring harness from the sensor. 
  3. Now, unclip and unbolt the old sensor and put the new sensor in its place. 
  4. Secure it, put the wiring harness in place, and put the wheel back.

This video should help you further: 

After that, clear the code and see if the light is still there. Don’t know how? Well, we have discussed it below. Make sure that the new sensor is compatible with your Ford Explorer. 

2. Bad Control Unit or Pump

The ABS module is a mini computer that processes the data from the hydraulic brake and different sensors. After analyzing the data, it ascertains when to ease up on the breaking pressure from the tire. 

Read:  Honda Accord ABS Light On: Common Causes and How to Reset

When the module faces issues, the ABS might start abruptly or may not even work in emergencies. Another thing that can happen here is that your pump might keep working even when the engine is turned off.

When the ABS starts acting up like this, a fault code is stockpiled in the memory. 

Ford Explorer Bad Control Unit or Pump


To fix this issue, follow the steps below.

Step One: Diagnosis 

The first thing you have to do is read the code in your OBDII device. Usually, the common code in this instance is C1073.

Step Two: Replacement 

In this situation, a simple pump change will do the trick. You can do it by following these steps: 

  1. First, park the car and disconnect the battery by unplugging the negative terminal.
  2. Now, lift your car on a jack stand.
  3. After that, depressurize the brake system to control any fluid leaks.
  4. Disconnect the brake line and all the other connectors from the pump and then unscrew it from its place.
  5. You might have to remove the broken fluid sensor to take out the pump. 
  6. Now, put the new pump in its place, secure it, and reconnect the break line.
  7. Now, put fluids in the braking system and then start the engine for a test run. 

But if you notice any coil burn or hear any humming noise from the module, you have to change the whole unit. 

Step Three: Clear Code 

After you have replaced the parts, clear the code from the OBDII device. 

3. Short on Brake Fluids

Your Ford Explorer has a hydraulic brake system. This means the system works by utilizing the force of a cylinder pushing against brake fluid.

So, when its level is low, there is not much substance to pressurize. The end result is that your ABS will not work and the light will show up.

Ford Explorer Short on Brake Fluids


Refilling the brake fluid will mitigate the issue. Here is how: 

Step One: Locating The Brake Fluid Tank 

First, you have to open your hood and secure it. The reservoir should be at the back of the engine with a maximum and minimum level marking. 

Step Two: Refilling 

Put brake fluid in the tank until it reaches the minimum mark. But make sure the fluids are compatible with Ford Explorer. 

4. Wiring or Connector Problems

Most ABS connectors and wires are underneath your vehicle. So it’s no surprise that most of them get damaged over time due to dust and debris.

When this happens, different sensors won’t be able to work properly. Since the module may have a hard time, the light will flicker on. 

Ford Explorer Wiring or Connector Problems


There is a simple solution for this: 

Step One: Inspection

Slide underneath your Ford and inspect every fire connected to the module. 

Step Two: Replacement

Once you find the faulty one, you have to get a new one and connect it to your ABS. 

5. Bad Relay or Fuse

ABS has a fuse. It protects the module from sudden bursts of power. In case the fuse blows, the connection between the battery and the ABS device sometimes gets disrupted. Thus, the ABS light will stay on.


Here is the fix for this: 

Step One: Find the Cause of the Blown Fuse

Before you change the fuse, you need to find the cause of its disruption. A damaged wire that connects two separate wires might be the cause. Sometimes, even the damaged module can cause the fuse to blow. 

Step Two: Replacement 

Now, you have to replace the fuse or damaged wire. 

6. Problems with the Regulator or Tone Ring

The regulator or the tone gear helps the wheel-speed sensor to function properly. It is located right near the sensor.

This means that, like the sensor, it can get clogged with dirt. And the ABS stops working, sensing this irregularity. 

Ford Explorer Problems with the Regulator or Tone Ring


There is only one solution to this problem. You have to slide underneath your car and then clean the tone ring properly. 

Read:  Chevy Silverado ABS Light On: Common Causes and Resetting Solutions

7. The Broken Steering Angel Detector

ABS and Traction control units share the steering angle sensor. That’s why both of them can overlap. So, if there is an issue with the steering angle sensor, both the ABS light and TCU light may flicker. 


To get rid of this issue, change the detector like this: 

Step One: Locating 

Disconnect the negative terminal from your car’s battery. Wait a bit for the power to die down. Then, remove the steering wheel with a wheel puller and lock plate remover. The old sensor should be behind the steering wheel. 

Step Two: Unscrew 

Now, unscrew the old one and put the new one in its place. Properly secure it and then put the steering wheel back in its place. 

Step Three: Testing 

Now, reconnect the battery terminal and run a test to ensure the steering wheel is working properly. Once you have done it, clean the error code. 

8. Week Battery 

ABS needs high power from the battery to function. When the system doesn’t get that, it shuts down. The flickering light might be an indication of a lack of a power source. 

Ford Explorer Week Battery 


To fix this issue, you must get a new battery that can properly support your ABS. Once the system gets enough power, it should run smoothly. Thus, no light will flicker or stay on. 

9. Low Tire Pressure

Ford Explorer’s tire pressure should be 33 psi. The car manual and the sticker on the driver’s door frame should have this info. When any tire has less air pressure, it actually causes the wheel to spin faster

When pressure is low, the speed sensor sends that data to the module and it triggers a fault code. 


You have to give air to your tire. And make sure all the wheels of your Ford have stable pressure. 

Troubleshooting: Resetting Solution

Ford Explorer ABS Light On Resetting Solution

Resetting the ABS light involves clearing the error codes stored in the vehicle’s computer system. But you should only do it after you have addressed the real issue. 

  1. First, take your OBD scanner and plug it into the port. 
  2. Now, Start your Ford Explorer, but don’t ignite the engine. 
  3. Now select your car and model. You can also pick the option of “Auto Detect VIN” mode. VIN is your vehicle’s identification number. 
  4. After that, press the Control Unit. 
  5. Now, select the ABS control module.
  6. Once the scanner’s setup is ready, select “Diagnostics”.
  7. The scanner will display the stored error codes that were stored.
  8. Codes will also suggest what component you have to inspect or what might be the reason for the fault codes.
  9.  Once you deal with the issue, press clear code. 
  10. Now, restart your car again. 
The Ford Explorer, like many vehicles, can occasionally present issues with its ABS system, as evidenced by the ABS light illuminating on the dashboard. If you’re trying to diagnose or understand this problem further, it’s essential to be aware of other brake light situations that might arise in various vehicles. For instance, a puzzling yet common issue that many drivers encounter is the simultaneous activation of both the brake and battery lights. On a related note, some vehicles even show an unusual behavior where the brake light comes on during acceleration. Exploring these scenarios can provide a comprehensive understanding of brake light indications and their potential causes.


Aside from this, we are sure you may also have some other questions. Here are the questions most people come up with: 

Q: Would it be safe to drive my car with the ABS light on? 

You can, but we won’t suggest that. You see, ABS gives you a free steering option on slippery roads or when you suddenly push hard breaks. Even without ABS, you can abruptly stop your car. But you won’t be able to steer it, and there is a huge risk of tire lock and skidding. 

Q: Should I Ignore ABS Light? 

Absolutely not. If you don’t want to face any serious injury due to tire lock or skidding, you should find the cause of this light. 

Q: Should I worry if the ABS and brake light come on at the same time?

Yes, you should. Your car is no longer safe for you. Thoroughly do a check-up and seek professional help. 


Most often, electrical problems don’t lie in a single issue. Your Ford Explorer ABS light on trouble may also be a compilation of one or more reasons. So, it is important that you give a thorough check. 

Even after doing everything, if you can’t resolve the issue, take your car to a professional. And make sure to take your car to the mechanics once a month for a  systematic checkup. 

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