Should I repair the anti-lock braking system in my car?

Brake pedals.
Brake pedals. –Flickr/greeblie

The dealer quoted what sounds like a very high cost to repair one defective sensor, but what’s the harm if the anti-lock braking system is malfunctioning, given that I utilize it so infrequently?

Q. I have a 2012 Buick Lacrosse eAssist with anti-lock braking system. One of the four sensors has failed, and now I get warning lights on my dashboard. The dealer quoted what sounds like a very high cost to repair one defective sensor, but I’m wondering if I need to get this work done. I’d rather just ignore it and avoid the costly repair. The car has 85,000 miles on it, and my brakes operate fine in day-to-day traffic. Doesn’t the sensor only come into play when I stomp on the brakes? What’s the harm if the anti-lock braking system is malfunctioning, given that I utilize it so infrequently?

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A. You are correct that the anti-lock system only works to prevent wheel lock-up and skidding. In Massachusetts, you can get a vehicle inspected with an ABS light on, but in Rhode Island, if the ABS light is on, the car will fail the state vehicle inspection. If this were my car, I would have it repaired. You can find an independent shop using aftermarket parts, which should help with the cost of the repairs.

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE certified master technician. Email your car question to jpaul@aaanortheast.com.