One of the many safety features you will love in the Chevy Malibu is the anti-lock braking system. Unfortunately, this system is prone to failure, which causes the ABS warning light to illuminate on the gauge cluster.
So, what exactly are the causes of the Chevy Malibu ABS light on? There are many reasons your Chevy Malibu ABS light may illuminate, including a failing control module and insufficient brake fluid. And if one of the wheel speed sensors is dirty or faulty, the ABS light will still come on. Other reasons are unequal tire pressure and a blown ABS fuse.
But how do you diagnose and fix the Chevy Malibu warning light? Stay right here to find out.
Chevy Malibu ABS Light On: Causes and Solutions
Now, you might wonder, what causes the ABS to malfunction, causing the warning light to illuminate? Read on to find out.
1. Failing ABS Control Module
The Chevy Malibu ABS control module is an electronic device or microprocessor that acts as the brain of the entire ABS. The module processes information from the vehicle’s wheel-speed sensors and the hydraulic brake system.
Typically, the ABS module can fail prematurely due to corrosion and moisture. Thus, the ABS warning light will turn on to indicate something is wrong.
How To Fix
The safest way to fix a failing ABS control module of your Chevy Malibu is to replace the unit entirely.
However, troubleshooting and repairing the control module is an incredibly complex task. This is because, after the replacement, the module must be programmed. Therefore, you should let a skilled professional handle the job.
2. Faulty or Dirty Wheel Speed Sensors
Your Chevy Malibu features wheel speed sensors on each wheel. These sensors monitor the speed of each wheel and transmit this data to the ABS control module.
Now, several things can cause the sensors to malfunction, including dirt accumulation. Other causes are corroded or damaged wires and connectors. This causes your 2003 Chevy Malibu ABS light to illuminate.
How To Fix
- You must lift your Chevy to remove the wheels and access the sensors.
- Inspect the sensors for dirt and corrosion.
- Then, use a clean rag and water to clean the contact surface. For stubborn dirt, you can use a wire brush.
- If one of the sensors is damaged, you must replace it. This is a relatively easy job that involves the following:
Step 1: Disconnect the negative battery cable.
Step 2: Remove the wheel with the faulty sensor from the hub assembly.
Step 3: Detach the electrical connector from the ABS sensor harness. Also, remove any fasteners securing the sensor wiring harness.
Step 4: Unplug the damaged sensor. Then, install the new one in reverse order and lower your vehicle.
Step 5: Test drive your car.
3. Insufficient Brake Fluid
The Chevy Malibu has sensors that detect when the brake fluid levels are low. If the fluid levels are abnormally low, this usually triggers ABS warning lights on the instrumental panel. The low fluids may also cause the traction control light to illuminate and the brake pedal to feel mushy or spongy.
One of the causes of brake fluid loss is a leak in the brake line. Another cause is worn-out brake pads, causing more fluid to be stored in the calipers.
How To Fix
To fix the brake fluid problem, follow these steps:
Step 1: Check for signs of damage and leaks along the brake lines, calipers, wheel cylinders, or master cylinders.
Step 2: Replace the damaged and leaking components.
Step 3: Next, check the brake pads for wear. And if the pads look thinner than 1/4 inch, replace them with new ones.
Step 4: Then, add more brake fluid up to the correct levels. The level should be just under the ‘MAX’ line.
4. Bad Anti-Lock Fuse or Relay
The ABS uses electric power to operate. Typically, the power supply to the ABS is usually controlled by the anti-lock fuse and relay. So, if the fuse or the relay blows, the ABS stops working. This leads to the Malibu ABS light coming on.
How to Fix
The best solution here is to replace the blown fuse or relay. Here is how to go about it.
Step 1: Turn off the engine and disconnect the negative battery cable.
Step 2: Locate the fuse box on the passenger side of your 2004-2007 Chevy Malibu. However, some year models have the fuse box on the driver’s side.
Step 3: Pry the cover using a screwdriver. Check the inside of the cover and the owner’s manual for the exact location of the ABS fuse.
Step 4: Alternatively, the engine compartment has a fuse box. So, to access the ABS fuse and relay, open the hood and pull the lid off the fuse box.
Step 5: Once you have located the ABS fuse, test it for internal circuit breakage using a test light. The fuse is blown if the test light fails to light up. You can also remove the fuse and inspect for any damage.
Step 6: Install the new ABS fuse and relay in reverse order.
5. Unequal Tire Pressure
When one tire has low pressure, it will spin faster than the others due to its smaller circumference. And when this happens, the wheel speed sensor will detect the speed difference, which can confuse the ABS control module.
This causes the ABS light to illuminate. Generally, if tire pressure is the problem, the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) warning light will also come on.
How To Fix
Check the pressure of all 4 wheels. Then, add air to the tire with low pressure until it reaches your car manufacturer’s specifications.
How To Diagnose ABS Light On in Chevy Malibu
Apart from visual inspection, another effective way to diagnose the ABS light on is using an OBD-II scanner. This tool helps you read every ABS diagnostic trouble code your vehicle’s computer generates.
- You simply locate your vehicle’s OBD II port under the dashboard on the passenger side.
- Then, connect your OBD2 scanner to the port.
- Next, turn on the ignition and enter the data requested on the scanner screen.
- After that, access the tool’s menu for trouble codes.
If there is a fault with the right front wheel speed sensor, the scanner may display code C0040. Other diagnostic codes related to the Malibu ABS light on include:
- Code C0050 for faulty right rear wheel speed sensor
- Code C0045 for faulty left rear wheel speed sensor
- C0035 for faulty left front speed sensor
How To Turn Off ABS Light On Chevy Malibu
Sometimes, the ABS light on your Chevy Malibu may not go out despite fixing the cause of the problem. In this case, you can turn it off via a quick reset. To do the resetting, you can use an OBD II scanner to delete any trouble codes related to your vehicle’s ABS and then clear the codes.
Now, to do it in another way, follow the steps:
Step 1: Disconnect your Chevy’s battery for a few minutes by detaching the negative cable first and then the positive.
Step 2: Next, hold down the horn button a few times.
Step 3: Now, turn on the headlights. This should help drain out any remaining electric power from the ABS.
Step 4: Reconnect the battery after about 15 minutes. Start with positive cable.If you’re dealing with an ABS light issue in your Chevy Malibu, our article on Ford F-150 ABS warning light on concerns might offer insights that could help you troubleshoot similar situations. Furthermore, if you’re encountering a situation where the ABS light on your trailer comes on when the brakes are applied, our guide on trailer ABS light comes on when brakes applied matters is here to provide assistance. We recognize the importance of addressing ABS-related issues promptly and ensuring the safety of your vehicle, and our comprehensive resources are designed to help you navigate and resolve any concerns you may encounter.
Let’s now check out some commonly asked questions about the Chevy Malibu ABS light coming on.
Yes, you can. However, it is generally unsafe to do so, especially when it is snowing, raining, and the road surface is not smooth. Therefore, you should have the ABS fixed as soon as possible.
No. A problem with the ABS does not affect the Chevy Malibu’s engine performance. It only affects the vehicle’s braking performance, especially in slick situations.
No. Resetting the ABS light is not a permanent solution. You must fix the underlying issue first, causing the light to illuminate. If not, the light is likely to come back on.
Your Chevy Malibu ABS light staying lit means the anti-lock brake system itself has a fault. Oftentimes, a failing ABS control module may cause a system fault. Other causes are faulty wheel speed sensors, insufficient brake fluid, unequal tire pressure, and a bad anti-lock fuse or relay.
The good news? Besides visual inspection, you can quickly diagnose Malibu ABS light using a diagnostic device like the OBD2 scanner. And if the light stays on even after fixing the underlying problem, you can turn it off by disconnecting the vehicle’s battery.