The ABS module of an American-made Ford F-150 is known for causing some problems from time to time. This blog post will discuss everything you need to know to identify a faulty ABS module, recognize its specific signals, and learn how to fix it. Read on!
A failing ABS module in a Ford F-150 will illuminate the ABS warning light, unresponsive braking, and/or harder braking. A failing ABS module can also cause the ABS pump to run continuously. Replacing an ABS module costs $700 – $900.
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Location Of The Ford F-150 ABS Module
In most models of the Ford F150, the ABS control module is located beneath the air filter housing on the driver’s side of the vehicle. It is usually mounted on the ABS hydraulic unit. To gain access to the ABS module, you must remove the air filter and the surrounding components. Alternatively, you can also access the ABS module by removing the inner fender of the driver’s side.
If you want a more visual explanation of where the ABS module is located, watch the first 2 minutes of the video below. The video demonstrates the location of the ABS module with a 2001 Ford F-150, but this location is similar to most F-150s manufactured in the last decades.
1. Faulty ABS Module
The ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) module on the Ford F150 is an essential component of the ABS. It is sometimes also known as –
- ABS controller
- ABS control unit
- ABS control module
- ABS unit
ABS, a safety system on the F150, is designed to prevent the wheels from locking under heaving braking conditions. Moreover, ABS is responsible for avoiding hydroplaning or vehicle skidding as it is linked with the conventional braking system. If the ABS on the F150 fails, braking becomes unsafe, and the car can skid, or worse, the driver can lose the vehicle’s control under heavy braking.
The ABS module or ABS control module is the brain of the entire anti-lock braking system. It processes information from ABS sensors and regulates the brake pressure via an ABS modulator. Besides being a microprocessor, it is responsible for running diagnostic checks to ensure the proper functioning of the anti-lock braking system.
Besides other components of the ABS on F150, like – the ABS modulator and ABS sensor, the ABS module is an integral part of the ESC (Electronic Stability Control) system. If the ABS module fails, it is not a good sign and can hamper the functioning of the ABS.
If the ABS module on your Ford F150 fails, you will notice any or all of the following issues –
ABS Warning Light Illuminates
This is the most common sign indicating a problem with the ABS or the ABS module. Don’t panic if you spot the illuminated light since the ABS warning light doesn’t always indicate a problem with the ABS module or other vital components.
If the ABS light on the dashboard comes on for just a few seconds when the vehicle starts, it continues to glow. Then you can try turning the ignition key off and back on, just like rebooting your computer. Because at times, transient issues might confuse the ABS module resulting in the illuminated ABS warning light. As a result, restarting the car would clear the temporary problem.
However, if restarting the vehicle does not make the ABS warning light go away, then you might have to take your F150 to the service station. A technician can help identify the fault code from the Anti-lock braking system to detect the exact component causing the issue.
Other than that, if the warning light pops up while driving the vehicle, then chances are that a vital component in the ABS has failed. In most cases, the failure occurs with the ABS module because it is a complicated electronic system.
Furthermore, it might be possible that the ABS will work appropriately despite the glowing ABS warning light. But to avoid any risks, it is recommended to resolve the issue with the warning light as soon as possible. As the ABS is linked with the braking system, any problem with the ABS can affect the braking capability of your F150.
Also, note that in older F150s manufactured typically before the 2000s, there will be no separate warning light indicating a problem with the ABS. If the ABS module suffers a problem, the check engine light will turn on instead.
Brakes Lock Up
The primary function of the Anti-lock braking system is to prevent the wheel from locking during heavy braking. So, you will likely notice a problem with the ABS module when you are braking heavily.
A faulty ABS module functioning abnormally can cause the brakes on the F150 to lock up even during normal braking. Besides, you might notice erratic behavior from the brakes, like – random clicking noises. These, in general, indicate a problem with the ABS module on your Ford.
Here’s something to note — if any particular tire is locked consistently, the problem might be a stuck caliper rather than a faulty ABS module.
Unresponsive Brake Pedal
If the ABS module on your F150 malfunctions, you might notice the brake pedal become unresponsive over time. At first, you would have to press the pedal a couple of times to get some significant braking action. Eventually, you will be pushing the brake pedal many times to get it to work.
This problem may be a sign of a deteriorating ABS module. However, unresponsive brakes on the F150 mean other things too. So, instead of concluding the problem with the ABS module, it is good to have the issue inspected by a mechanic.
In some rare cases, the failure of the ABS module affects the functioning of the speedometer. Either the needle will rest at 0 mph, or it will show incorrect speed.
If you face this problem, it is good to look for illuminated ABS Warning Light or Check Engine Light. Even if the warning lights don’t come on, a problematic speedometer is a reasonable cause to have your Ford inspected.
In any case, if you think that your ABS module is the culprit, then take your F150 to the service station to solve the problem.
Increased Pedal Effort
With a fully functional braking system on the F150, the brake pedal requires little effort to slow down the truck.
However, if you notice that the pedal needs more than the required effort to generate a similar amount of braking force, there could be an issue with the ABS module.
Again, the issue with the brake pedal means other things, too, like – worn-out brake pads or a failing brake booster. So you can have your truck inspected to identify the exact cause of the problem.
The ABS is a safety feature that should work perfectly at all times. So, if you encounter any problem with the ABS module on your Ford F150, don’t ignore it.
2. Illuminated ‘Check Brake System’ Light
In some cases, if the ABS module on the F150 malfunctions, then it can cause the ‘Check Brake System’ warning light to illuminate. Moreover, other warning lights like the – e brake, traction, and the ABS warning light would also turn on with the ‘Check Brake System’ light.
If this happens, the first task you should do is check the brakes on your F150. Next, you should turn the ignition off and then back on, do this a couple of times. Sometimes, an electrical fault can cause the warning light to illuminate. This restarting of the vehicle will reboot all the vital electricals and electronics.
Still, if the problem remains unsolved, then you might as well have to take your F150 to the service station. If a fault is found with the ABS module, the technician will either reprogram the ABS module or replace it altogether.
The average cost of replacing the ABS module on the F150 is between $700 to $ 800 in the United States. In contrast, additional labor costs can be around $50-$100.
Recalls That Involved Illumination Of The ABS Light
In the past decade, there have been two major recalls in which the ABS module illuminated, but that weren’t explicitly related to the ABS module or the ABS pump. Both of them had to do with a brake fluid leak, which does cause the ABS module to illuminate because it can’t function without the proper brake fluid levels.
- 2013 – 2014 recall of 271,000 F-150 because brake fluid leaking from the brake master cylinder into the brake booster. This caused the ABS light to illuminate (source).
- 2014 – 2017 recall of 292,311 F-150 again because brake fluid leaks from the brake master cylinder into the brake booster. This recall specifically applied to the F-150s with a 3.5L Ecoboost (source).
3. ABS Module Causing ABS Pump To Run Continuously
If it malfunctions, the ABS module can cause the ABS pump to run unceasingly. However, it is not a problem related to the ABS that occurs commonly on the Ford F150. But still, this is a problem that might arise if the ABS module fails or becomes faulty.
When this happens, the ABS pump on your F150 will keep running even when you turn off the truck. To temporarily solve this problem, you can remove the 50amp ABS pump fuse by accessing the fuse box. To do this, you would have to find the fuse box with the ABS pump fuse.
There are two fuse boxes on the F150. The first one can be found under the right side of the instrument cluster. Although relatively visible, it will be covered by a panel. The second fuse box – known as the ‘power distribution box, ‘is under the hood.
The ABS pump fuse is usually located in the fuse box under the hood. In the video below, you can see what this box looks like and where to find it. The video talks about a 2015 – 2019 F150, but the box always looks the same and is pretty easy to identify.
If you want to locate the specific fuse, Google: “ford f150 power distribution box diagram + model year” to find an overview of this. Keep in mind that you get the power distribution box diagram and not the passenger side fuse box.
Removing the ABS pump fuse would solve the problem but will leave you with no ABS. Additionally, after the ABS pump fuse is removed, the ABS warning light will always be illuminated.
Since the root of the problem is the ABS module, which, when faulty, can cause the ABS pump to malfunction, to solve this problem permanently, you would have to repair or replace the ABS module on your F150.
Replacing The ABS Module On An F-150
You can try repairing the ABS module by following the below-mentioned steps –
Remove The ABS Module
This might sound easy, but in reality, it is not. You would have to remove the air filter housing to access the ABS module. It is roughly located beneath the brake fluid reservoir.
Also, before accessing the module, disconnect the negative battery terminal since there is a 50 amp running through the ABS module. After doing so, unscrew the four screws holding the ABS module on the ABS housing/pump using a Torx bit. Ensure that you remove the harness connecting the ABS module to the pump on the module’s rear.
Cut It Open
Along the seam of the module, cut using a Dremel cutting wheel (made for plastic). Make sure you don’t cut too deeply. Otherwise, it will damage the internal components. After separating the two halves, you can start with the process.
There will be a MOSFET chip; when it goes wrong, it causes the gate to burn out and come in an open state, resulting in the ABS pump running continuously. This chip in the ABS module should be replaced with a new one to fix the problem.
Replacing The Chip
Apart from the new MOSFET chip costing around $3.60. You will need the following –
- Solder Wick (to remove old solder)
- Dremel Tool
- High-Wattage Soldering Iron
- 4 M4 x 25mm Screws (preferable stainless)
- Rubbing alcohol and Q-tips
- Arctic Alumina Thermal Adhesive
- Solder (1mm Lead-based solder is probably best)
- Silicone Caulk
First and foremost, scrape off any burnt protective coating. Next, remove the chip using a heated solder tip and solder wick. Clean the contact points by removing more solder and applying flux to all contacts after doing so. Now, solder the new MOSFET chip in place of the old one.
Close It Up And Reinstall
Using silicone, re-adhere the cover to close the ABS module. Next, reinstall the module you removed. Lastly, connect the fuse back in and re-attach the negative battery terminal.
At this point, you can try starting your F150, and your ABS warning light should have gone. Besides, the ABS pump wouldn’t be running.
Want to read about more problems of the Ford F-150?