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Ironmike, Ford Technician
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 3385
Experience:  30 years ASE Master tech L1 . Ford master
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Ford Crown Victoria Police ABS brake problem with 1997 Ford

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ABS brake problem with 1997 Ford Crown Victoria, VIN 2FALP71W8VX18XXXX, with 184,000 miles on it.

The outer rear wheel bearings have no inner races; they ride on a case hardened surface on the axle shafts. This case hardened surface failed on the left axle, and the axle wore about a sixteenth of an inch deep all around. Examination of the right axle revealed no wear, but it did have some cracks in the surface. The axle housing was cleaned of metal particles, and both rear axles, outer rear wheel bearings, and seals were replaced. The ABS exciter rings are integral with the axle shafts, so they are new as well. The rear rotors, calipers, parking brake shoes, and all brake hardware were replaced at the same time, and the brake system flushed out with new fluid. It is possible that some air may have been introduced into the brake system at the master cylinder at that time.

When the car was driven (after having sat for about nine months before this work was done), the ABS brake system operated right at the end of almost every stop. (It felt and sounded like you were driving over a washboard.) The ABS light does not illuminate when this happens or at any other time (except for the short time when the system performs its check at each start-up). There was no problem with the ABS brake system before the axle failure. It had previously activated only on snowy or slick roads when appropriate.

Suspecting that the left rear wheel speed sensor may have been damaged by contact with the exciter ring on the worn axle shaft, it was replaced with a used one from another '97 Crown Vic. The condition definitely improved, but the ABS system still activated inappropriately occasionally (maybe once every twenty or so stops). A new wheel speed sensor was put on the left rear, and the condition is now as bad as it was right after the car was first placed back in service.

Other work done at the same time the axle shafts were replaced:

All four shock absorbers were replaced. (The rear ones were fun!)
All tie rod ends and the idler arm were replaced.
Transmission and torque converted were drained.
Transmission fluid and filter were replaced.
Transmission shifter cable was replaced.
Engine oil and filter were changed.

The check engine light is not illuminated, and no engine codes are stored. I do not have the ability to check for any stored ABS brake codes.


I would check the connectors for the sensors especially the front. There is a bulletin for bad connections causing a false abs conditions. You might try to disconnect them one by one and pinch the pins(to make them fit tight) and add dielectric grease)

Since you do not have a scanner to watch the wheel signals from the sensors this might be the best try. You could even ohm the connectors, back probe them and see if there is high resistance(you will need to disconnect the ebcm to isloate the circuit)

let me know what you find

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Does "ecbm" (in your answer) stand for electronic brake control module? Where is that located? Is it on the ABS controller? Which pins go to which wheel sensors? What should the resistance be for the sensors? Should the resistance be the same for each one? (I do have a digital ohmmeter.) I'm assuming that since changing out the left rear sensor makes the situation change that the problem is located there. If I can definitely pinpoint the problem to one or more sensor connections, I'll clip the durn connectors off and solder the wires.
they do not give a spec but I would say more than 5 ohms is too much. The ebcm is the abs module. I will get the schematics in a sec


Anti-Lock Brake Module is located at the LH front of the vehicle, on front of the upper radiator support.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I just probed the two used rear brake sensors with my digital multimeter. They're the ones I have off the cars. (I have two '97 Crown Vics--just alike.) One was 1103 ohms; the other was 1097 ohms--essentially identical. That doesn't necessarily mean that either one is good or bad, or that the connectors are making good contact, but the resistance is the same for each of them.

Do you know of a reasonably priced brake scanner? I don't mind spending two or three hundred bucks for one, but I can't justify $2500 or up for a Snap-On or equivalent.
I meant ohm the connector(back probed), not the sensor. Scanners that show abs data are not cheap. I will see if I can find an ohm spec for the sensors. We usually just make sure the circuits are good and watch the sensors on a scanner.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
OK. That helps. Thanks, Ironmike.

I have some more problems to sort out with this car. Like the cruise control doesn't work, but that's for another day. How do I ask for you in the future?

I am not sure what that side of the site looks like. You can keep this question open as long as we keep communicating within 24 hours. There should be a request choice on the question .
abs sensors should have resistance between 800 and 1400 ohms
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