If you have been driving for some time, you may well remember how "simple" the automobiles of the past used to be. In fact, you may well have been able to work on them yourself if any issues arose, as they were all relatively simple to fix. With the passage of time, technology has helped to make the humble car a rather complex machine. You may not understand some of the developments, but nevertheless, need to take action when something goes wrong. What should you do, if a flashing light on your dashboard is telling you that you have an issue with your "ABS," as an example?
Overcoming the Panic
The ABS system was developed in the world of motorsport and is a way of making your braking system very intuitive, to keep you and your passengers safe. The letters stand for "anti-lock braking system," and it is a defense against a panicky driver, who may lose control in an emergency braking situation.
How Does It Work?
A system of sensors around each wheel is connected to your car's main computer. This is set up so that it can detect in a fraction of a second when any one of the driving wheels locks up and stops turning, while the car is in motion. This is the typical result if you put all your weight on the brake pedal in an emergency and don't take it off. Some people think that this is a more effective way of stopping the car quickly, while the opposite is true. When you do this, the wheels are likely to stop turning and simply slide, making the braking effort useless. The onboard computer doesn't panic, of course, and releases the pressure in a controlled fashion through a hydraulic valve, keeping you in control.
What You Should Do
A flashing ABS warning light is not a reason to panic and stop driving right away. It is possible to drive a car effectively with no ABS system in place (like the old days), but it's best if you fix this issue right away, to be as safe as possible.
You may be able to fix it by simply resetting the system. Turn the ignition off and back on and see if the light disappears. If not, have a look in the fuse box to see if the ABS fuse needs to be changed.
Next, have a look at the back of each driving wheel and look for the sensor, which will be very close to the brake assembly and connected by a wire. Maybe the wire is broken, or the sensor has been knocked off by some road debris. If you can see this, you know what to tell the mechanic on the phone. It's also possible that problems with the brake fluid are at the root of the issue, but this will require some extensive investigation at the garage.
Fixing the Issue
Typically, this is not an issue that can be fixed by a weekend mechanic, so you need to take the vehicle to your nearest car servicing specialist for action.