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Below is a collection of Jim Grant's Tech Tips sorted by Vehicle Make. These Tech Tips were answers to questions submitted to Jim by users over the course of many years.
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  Jim Grant's Tech Tips

'99 Ford Taurus, ABS Brake Flickers

Q: I have a '99 Ford Taurus SE that I've had serviced at the same dealership that it was purchased from. I am the only owner. The 3yr warranty has run out. Background: The ABS light on the dash flickered on and off. The garage removed the dash and supposedly found a chaffed wire, $500 later the ABS light still flickers. Problem: Now when applying the brakes, the brake pedal pulsates and the brakes are very slow to grab. I've almost rear-ended a few cars. Garage says it is a brake pump (master cylinder, maybe??) that may be the problem. They said they ordered one for a Ford Explorer recently and the owners cost was $1300!! I still owe $3100 and fuel costs are only going higher. Does this $1300 repair sound right? What are my options? Should I not repair the car and trade it in for a new vehicle (not Ford)?

A: Repair or trade? Good question and I don’t have that answer. But I do have some questions regarding your problem. Under normal braking conditions, the ABS system on your vehicle should not be active. From what you’re describing it sounds like it is. Have your technician temporary disable the ABS brake system and test drive the vehicle. If my hunch is right, the braking/stopping of the vehicle should improve. If that is the case then you’re vehicle’s ABS system is receiving some bad information. When you step on the brake an electrical signal is sent to the ABS unit as a heads-up (we’re going to stop this vehicle). The ABS unit in response monitors the signal from the wheel speed sensors and watches for a sudden drop in wheel speed. We’ve seen loose or broken toner rings (that’s the part the sensor watches) cause faults wheel speed information. The ABS computer doesn’t know the toner ring is jumping and bouncing around, it just thinks the wheel is locking-up. The ABS computer responds by activating and trying to control the wheel it thinks is locking up. The end result? Extended braking distance and an ABS system that seems to run on high alert at all times. A different diagnostic approach might save you new car payments.

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