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My X's ABS almost made me crash!

Discussion in 'Stock 1991 - 1994 Explorers' started by Jason94sport, July 6, 2011.

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  1. Jason94sport

    Jason94sport Well-Known Member

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    I was driving to work this morning. Everything was fine. Explorer running normal. It had been raining a little the road was wet.( I have driven in this same weather before) My brakes were fine & then all of sudden as I was slowing down for a traffic light(less then 20mph) the ABS kicked in for no reason. It braked hard & locked up a wheel I think. The x lunged left, skidded & side ways it went, did a 180 & I wound up inches from the curb facing on coming traffic. Luckily no one hit me & I didn't hit anything & people seemed to be able to avoid me.
    SOB!!!! WTF!!!

    So I turned around, I was about a block from my job, & the brakes were normal. Again WTF!!!????

    I have never had brake issues, My rotors & pads & everything were all done a few months ago. Everything has been ok.
    Anyone have insight on what may have happened?
     
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  3. surf

    surf Active Member

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    I have noticed that on my 93 XLT that at very slow speeds and on slick surfaces the wheels will lock up and skid even though at higher speeds the ABS systems works fine. I think the early ABS systems do not function as well at slow speeds as the newer ones do. I would be curious to know if other first generation explorer owners in snowy environments experience the same thing.
     
  4. Roadrunner777

    Roadrunner777 Well-Known Member

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    I bought mine last winter but only had one experience where the ABS activated, and this winter I will probably do some comparative winter driving with and without ABS.

    Here is the issue for me: My 10 years of Minnesota driving in non-ABS cars taught me to break easy, and anticipate when the brakes would lock up. The most important thing in any weather is allowing enough time to stop safely, and in very icy conditions, I'm off the gas and testing brakes just about when I can read the word STOP in stop sign.

    The Explorer brakes, in my one test case, did not let me pump the brakes. It began modulating the pressure, in my opinion, too quickly. Not knowing what else to do, I let the ABS take over and pressed firmly on the brake pedal, allowing the ABS full control. I overshot the stop sign by about 5 feet. I would have made that stop easily without ABS.

    I expect to end up pulling the power to the ABS system, unless I learn some new tricks this winter. I may well end up going to a brake shop and have them do an ABS-ectomy, maybe sell the components on the web.
     
  5. safn1949

    safn1949 Active Member

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    I am wondering if the 93 has rear ABS only,my 94 has never had any problem(4 wheel ABS) and I kick the ABS in every so often in the winter with the way I drive.

    I would check the rear brakes if you did a 180 to make sure nothing has come loose back there,the wheels that lock up will always try to lead.So it won't be the fronts.:D
     
    Last edited: July 6, 2011
  6. Jason94sport

    Jason94sport Well-Known Member

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    Yeah it's 4 wheel ABS. I just went to grab some food & it's working just fine now.
     
  7. Anime

    Anime EF YEAH!! Elite Explorer

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    91-92 and some 93's have the rear-only ABS.

    The 4-wheel ABS in these doesn't work the same as more modern systems. It doesn't take into account steering position or anything else, and so what you wind up with is a braking system that controls the brakes electronically in order to achieve the least stopping distance with the least driver input, but which keeps the vehicle going in the direction it was pointed prior to the ABS activating.

    I've had it come on at very low speeds plenty of times. It will come on sometimes on wet slick pavement, loose gravel, or even just when the road is bumpy from potholes at a stoplight or stop sign. It comes on plenty when wheeling, especially going downhill on loose rocks, dirt, sand, etc. You just have to get used to the feeling of the ABS taking over, and the nature of the vehicle where it won't usually respond to steering input or anything else while the ABS is trying to bring it to a stop.

    It sounds like what happened might be due to either a mechanical issue with the brakes or a malfunction in the ABS, which caused only three wheels (or two) to have the ABS activated, which of course left the other one/two freewheeling. That would make a vehicle lunge to one side. I would say check out the right side brakes for sure, but really it'd be best to do a once-over of everything. It could even be something as simple as a wiring issue with the sensors.



    If you pump the brakes on an ABS system, it gives the worst possible result. The ABS won't kick in without constant pedal pressure, and pumping won't do what it does for non-ABS braking systems. For ABS systems, you nail the brake pedal and keep it to the floor until the vehicle is stopped or you don't need the brakes anymore. If you held the pedal down from the start, the ABS would have stayed on and the vehicle might not have overshot the stop sign.
     
  8. Jason94sport

    Jason94sport Well-Known Member

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    Yeah it's a problem of some sort. None of my prior 1st gens with abs did this, but they were 94's, & this X hasn't until now. I can pretty much make it happen at will. I'll check into it this weekend.
     
  9. Tony H

    Tony H Well-Known Member

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    Probably a totally different system but let me toss out that I just had an issue with my Daughters Blazer. It Brakes perfect until you get under 8 MPH. Then the dopy ABS kicks in. I find out that there is a Bulletin on this for the Blazer. Might be worth looking at. The sensor has a small shim between the Sensor and the Mounting surface. It rusts and causes the sensor to lift slightly.. The sensor misreads what's going on at slow speeds.
    I'm not familiar with the later "x' ABS systems ... I know I'm talking Apples and Oranges but I just thought I'd give you something to look at.

    Also look for Brake fluid leaks. It might not be an ABS issue.. Brake fluid makes the Pads VERY grabby.
     
  10. 94EddieBauerRock

    94EddieBauerRock Active Member

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    I had a very similar scary incident when I was in high school. The problem was my axle seal allowing fluid to get into the brakes.
     
  11. LordBear

    LordBear New Member

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    my x has almost put me n a a ditch a few times... needing to slow down on ice it will kick on and instead of slowing down it will pulse and cause me to slide uncontrolably.. only thing i can do is let up off the break and hope i get enough traction back to turn to keep from hitting anything or sliding in to a ditch..... u can really feel it and hear it when it starts pullsing.. but any other time its like its not even there... may see bout disconecting it if i can.
     
  12. pikespeakmtnman

    pikespeakmtnman New Member

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    This thread just about makes me happy that the ABS in my g/f's '91 doesn't work (at least the light is on). Though through two Colorado winters neither of us has noticed a problem stopping, we just don't anticipate the ABS working reliably.
     
  13. Jason94sport

    Jason94sport Well-Known Member

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    After some testing, It's my tires. They pretty much suck in the rain & caused the abs to kick in cause they will skid a little when the road is slick. This is why I never had it happen before on other 1st gens I had. I always had BFG AT's on them or good dunlops. The tires on this X came with it & are street tires of some unknown pep boys name. But were almost new. I don;t want to spend $ on tires so I just have to drive a bit slower when the road is slick.
     
  14. pauley

    pauley Active Member

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    I just unhooked my rear abs sensor. (truck has rear abs only) i drove three winters before selling my ex. if it continues to be a issue i would un plug it and let your personal skills take over. un like a car you can make decisions based on what the situation requires. your ex can only do what the computer tells it to do. which is apparently to engage to early and spin out.
     
  15. Roadrunner777

    Roadrunner777 Well-Known Member

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    I have been pretty clear about my feelings on the 1st gen ABS system. This post is a more informed follow-up.

    My original issue was that the ABS was acting too early and I figured I could do better without it.

    Since then, I discovered 2 things. First, one of my back brakes had a broken adjuster, so it was essentially not there.

    Second, well, I knew this but did not understand the ramifications. My second issue was that the Traction-Lok clutches were broken, causing my rear diff to act like an open one. I still don't understand the mechanics exactly of how this affected the ABS. However...

    After fixing the back brakes and restoring the Traction-Lok, the ABS is acting quite nicely. Actually, because of the repairs, it probably just isn't being called to service. I never really considered it, but Traction-Loc is as much a braking enhancement as acceleration.

    So, my new thinking is this: If your ABS is giving you handling problems, do a regular brake check first. If you have Traction-Lok, make sure it is in good shape.
     
  16. wood1

    wood1 Well-Known Member

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    I too have had situations where the ABS has kicked in at low speeds causing me to overshoot, foot to the floor, swearing, as I roll towards some stationary object, listening to that whirring from the ABS pump. I always thought that it would have been a good idea for Ford to program it to turn off below a certain speed (5 mph perhaps).

    My brakes are very good, replaced last year as a matter of fact, new shoes with resurfaced drums, spring kits etc... and my calipers, pads and rotors are in fine shape. I check them periodicity. My Trac-Loc is old but still operates decently, spins both tires when pushed. My shocks are about a year old, and my tires are BF KO's and are at about 85%.

    A couple weeks ago I got tired of it all and wired in a kill switch. I simply put it in line with the ABS fuse in the interior fuse panel (fused side).

    Now when the road conditions are icy and I am tooling around at low speed I can simply shut it off. When I want it back on I flip the switch and after a couple seconds the ABS light turns off.

    Disclaimer:
    I am by no means suggesting you do this to your vehicle. This is just what I did to mine. You are responsible for whatever you do to yours. Defeating a factory engineered safety system should not be taken lightly. I am the only person that drives my truck and I have many years of winter driving under my belt. I accept sole responsibility for what I have done to my truck. I accept no responsibility for what you do to yours. Clear enough?
     
  17. Currency

    Currency Active Member

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    Only from reading your posts Jason and skimming the others, here are my thoughts.

    I was told, here on explorer forum, that the front ABS does not kick in at speeds below 25 MPH. I've had similar issues and run goodyear OWL radials, pretty good tire I think.

    The last time though, the back right locked up for a brief second on dry pavement. But I have locked up my fronts many times on pavement that may have a little dirt on it, and countless times on wet pavement.

    I did spin out once but I think that was a result of bad shocks meeting the limited slip under a good amount of pressure from my foot in a turn on wet pavement. Hit a big dip in the road which helped in the rear sliding around. Just ended up on the wrong side of the road, in the dark, at around 35 MPH but managed to get it back on the road without hitting anything.
     
  18. Roadrunner777

    Roadrunner777 Well-Known Member

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    I played with the ABS on some snow-packed roads today... mine will activate almost down to a standstill, which, given I was in a turn, sliding, that's probably what an ABS should do. So, not sure where 25mph came from, mine doesn't care about speed at all.
     
  19. RockyMtnJohn

    RockyMtnJohn New Member

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    I can confirm that the 25 mph figure is BS. My '93's ABS will activate at crawling speeds on snow packed or icy roads. I've done the ABS switch mod so I can choose whether I want it to be active or not.
     
  20. Jason94sport

    Jason94sport Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, my abs kicks in at 5-10mph in my job parking lot & I skid. I thought it was the tires but I have a feeling I have something wrong with it. They kick in at low speeds when I go hard on the pedal. If it's wet it's even worse. Doesn't seem to be a problem at higher over 25mph speeds.
     
  21. JohnnyO

    JohnnyO Moderator Emeritus

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    ABS is only designed to keep wheels from locking up. There is no guarantee that you will stop before you hit something.
    My Sport Trac was less than a week old when I nearly gave a restaurant a new drive-thru window in a snowstorm. I was just in the parking lot and not going fast at all. ABS kicked in and there was nothing I could do as the truck approached the front doors.
    The wife: "Are we going to hit the building?"
    Me, very calmly: "I don't know."
    Only the curb on the sidewalk stopped us.
    After a few more ABS incidents that first winter, I concluded that it was just a matter that the tires that came on it were lousy in snow. Before the second winter the OE Goodyears had mercifully worn out enough that I could justify new tires and got Firestone A/T's that are much better.
     

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