Electronic Brake Control Module Problems

This article explores EBCM (electronic brake control module) problems that can turn on the ABS warning light and set trouble codes with misleading definitions. On autorepair.answers.com is an introductory article that explains the different functions of the ABS light if you want to learn more about why it comes on and how it’s different than the malfunction indicator lamp associated with the check engine symbol. Although this discussion is restricted to ABS problems, enthusiasts will find it interesting how the issues are so common on certain automobiles, new businesses have sprung up to try to cash in on the unfortunate owners.

EBCM Explanation of Operation

There are many different designs of anti-lock brake systems found on vehicles operating today. Even with such a wide range of designs, layouts, and components we can still divide even the most complicated ABS systems into two categories, hydraulic and electronic. For the sake of this article we’re discussing the specific operation of the EBCM (electronic brake control module).

If you’ve been researching problems with this component it can be called other things such as an ABS control module. Basically this item is a computer that monitors system operation and controls anti lock function when needed. The module relies on inputs from the wheel speed sensors and feedback from the hydraulic unit to determine if the anti lock system is operating correctly. This module has a self-diagnostic function including the ability to set trouble codes.

Examples of Trouble Codes

One example of how this can be misleading is when a vehicle sets a code C0265. If you look up the definition it stands for EBCM relay malfunction. This code is a well known problem with the Kelsey Hayes anti-lock system installed on General Motors vehicles from the late 90s through 2005. The relay is controlled by the module. The malfunction is actually in a soldered connection on the circuit board inside the EBCM. Some companies have started online businesses where you mail them in the component; they fix it, and send it back. The reality is that a quick touch of a soldering iron fixes the problem.

Another good example of a set trouble code that points back to a malfunction inside the electronic brake control module is code C1214 and C1248. This is most common on the C-5 Corvette from the model year 1997 through 2004. When you look up the definition of these codes they point back to a relay circuit malfunction. Once again this is caused by a problem in the circuit board inside the module that can be fixed with a soldering repair.

How to Fix ABS Module Problems

Vehicle owners that have the ABS warning light on should follow standard diagnostic procedures to retrieve the codes. If logical diagnosis leads to replacement of the EBCM, they will have three choices on what to do next. You can buy the part brand-new from the dealership. Buy a used or re-manufactured control module. The module can be removed from the vehicle and sent out to a repair service such as ABS fixer.

There are two other options that many mechanics don’t recommend. You can get one from a junkyard or figure out how to fix the circuit board problem yourself. The issue with getting a junkyard unit is it could ultimately have the same problem as the one that’s on your vehicle now. Electronic components do not usually come with a warranty when purchased at a junkyard facility. As for the problems associated with fixing it yourself it depends on the type of module you’re attempting to repair. Some are extremely easy to gain access to the circuit board and some are not.

Learn about Your Type of ABS System

Anti-lock brake systems come in many different sizes and shapes. The older the car the less stable the systems were. In the 80s some automobiles had four wheel anti lock systems but most had RWAL (rear wheel anti-lock). As we moved into the 90s they started integrating the electronic module along with the hydraulic solenoids it controlled. Some said the technology wasn’t up to the task at that point. Others might call these systems experimental because of short production runs followed by major improvements on the following model year. Learn more about your specific system and the inherent problems associated with it.

When the ABS light comes on indicating a failure, the automobile will not stop as efficiently as it would if the system was fully operational. For this reason alone people should make an attempt to have it repaired quickly. What owners need to remember is when this diagnosis leads back to a problem with the EBCM and the shop states it needs to be replaced, there is a multitude of options at your disposal.

If the repair center only gives you one option ask them about additional choices on how to handle the issue. Take this a step further and ask the shop what diagnostic codes were set that leads them to believe the module needs to be replaced. Research these individual trouble codes on your own and see what others have done to resolve it.