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Old 08-24-2015, 09:40 PM   #1
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Safe to drive with bad ABS sensor (or iffy TCM)?

My 2012 Focus SEL started showing the "hill start assist not available" message along with the traction control indicator on. From what I've read it's either a bad ABS sensor or some said a TCM communication problem. I had it at the dealership for TCM reprogramming 2 months ago, which didn't help the rough shifting or shuddering and leaves me wondering about the reliability of the car. Knowing that it typically takes a week or two to get a service appointment, I'm wondering if it's likely to be safe to drive in the mean time, because we can't be without a vehicle, but also don't want to end up stranded somewhere. I would think if it's just an ABS sensor the car would be ok to drive, we just wouldn't have ABS or hill start assist, but if it could be a TCM problem we could be left stranded.
Any first hand experience with this or even informed opinions?


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Old 08-24-2015, 10:05 PM   #2
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My 2012 Focus SEL started showing the "hill start assist not available" message along with the traction control indicator on. From what I've read it's either a bad ABS sensor or some said a TCM communication problem. I had it at the dealership for TCM reprogramming 2 months ago, which didn't help the rough shifting or shuddering and leaves me wondering about the reliability of the car. Knowing that it typically takes a week or two to get a service appointment, I'm wondering if it's likely to be safe to drive in the mean time, because we can't be without a vehicle, but also don't want to end up stranded somewhere. I would think if it's just an ABS sensor the car would be ok to drive, we just wouldn't have ABS or hill start assist, but if it could be a TCM problem we could be left stranded.
Any first hand experience with this or even informed opinions?
Hill assist with a DCT? That's an option on automatics? Just curious.

Personally, if I thought my ABS was in a questionable state I would test it. I'd take it to a stretch of road with little to no hazards, wide lanes, no traffic, and hammer the brakes at a low speed to see if it locks up or not. a few times at different speeds and intervals, with only me in the car of course, at 40-ish km/h (25-30mph?). At least that would tell me if the ABS is actually failing. I'm no expert, just thought I'd comment. However, if you're not comfortable doing this I would suggest not, and having it checked out elsewhere if you have questions or concerns in regards to your dealership and/or their time-frames.

2012 and no warranty left? If you're that concerned, and have warranty left, I think you need to stress your concern to your dealership, or go to a different one. Either way, get it looked at it ASAP, not much you can do otherwise, especially if you have warranty left.
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Old 08-24-2015, 10:34 PM   #3
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I verified that the hill start assist is not working, so I'm going to assume the ABS isn't as well. This time of year I wouldn't be that concerned driving without ABS temporarily. What makes me nervous is the prospect that it might be a TCM problem, especially since it had been reprogrammed lately. That would be more likely to leave us stranded than an ABS sensor.
Fortunately, we sprung for the best extended warranty, so it shouldn't cost us more than $50 out of pocket. For what the warranty cost it darn well better not! They've more than paid off with every vehicle we've bought them for though.
The dealership will be getting a polite but very insistent phone call in the morning. I'm generally easy going, but can be a pain in the butt if I have to.
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Old 08-24-2015, 11:31 PM   #4
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If you have a warning message and warranty left, definitely visit a dealership and have them investigate. A dealership meaning the one you are familiar with, or another one, it sometimes pays to shop around, even for the best dealership.
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Old 08-24-2015, 11:46 PM   #5
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Mine had the same issues. I changed my ABS module with a used one, bled the brakes, and had it reprogrammed at Ford. Codes went away and Hill Start Assist worked again.
Edit: The TCM is not the issue. My TCM went out WAY after the lights came on. It was not related at all. The TCM on mine went out because of a bad ground. I had replace the ABS module after the TCM went out. Ford offered to do it but I was already charged WAY too much (I was out of warranty) so I just did the install myself.
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Old 08-25-2015, 01:32 AM   #6
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Yup, sounds like separate problems from what's been posted on each.

Just need a foot on the brake until it starts to move until that start assist/TC problem is fixed.

Latest update for the trans. adds TCM codes that didn't exist before for earlier/more specific warnings if that's not working right. Until you get that a couple typical TCM warnings are seeing a parking system warning (most don't have that) or having it not want to crank on the first try.

You'll prob. get that update the next time it goes in for service.
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Old 08-25-2015, 10:54 AM   #7
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I can't say for sure what your problem is, but regarding the question in the title: It's not terribly unsafe to drive with a bad ABS sensor (well, tone ring). I did it for half the winter - just know your limits.

I'm assuming that if you think have a bad ABS sensor, you're also getting the ABS light. I had a bad tone ring (don't ask) and the ABS light comes on right after you start cruising at low speeds. And (at least on the 2012's) for some reason the steering becomes stiffer if you have an ABS light. My speedometer also dropped to 0 when the ABS light came on, so I had to use a GPS speedometer app on my phone. You also have to hold the push start power button a little longer for the car to shut off. As stated, there will be no ABS, no hill start assist nor park assist.

But she's all better now.

Now, driving with an iffy TCM? I did it once in a rental Focus and I wouldn't want to do it again.
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Old 08-25-2015, 11:14 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ric426 View Post
My 2012 Focus SEL started showing the "hill start assist not available" message along with the traction control indicator on. From what I've read it's either a bad ABS sensor or some said a TCM communication problem. I had it at the dealership for TCM reprogramming 2 months ago, which didn't help the rough shifting or shuddering and leaves me wondering about the reliability of the car. Knowing that it typically takes a week or two to get a service appointment, I'm wondering if it's likely to be safe to drive in the mean time, because we can't be without a vehicle, but also don't want to end up stranded somewhere. I would think if it's just an ABS sensor the car would be ok to drive, we just wouldn't have ABS or hill start assist, but if it could be a TCM problem we could be left stranded.
Any first hand experience with this or even informed opinions?
Quote:
Originally Posted by ric426 View Post
...The dealership will be getting a polite but very insistent phone call in the morning...
Hi ric426,

Were you able to reach out to your dealer this morning? Please let me know, along with your mileage, and I'll check out some options. :)

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