Description and operation

Antilock brake system


The antilock brake system (ABS) is an electronically operated, all wheel brake control system.

The system is designed to prevent wheel lockup and maintain steering control during periods of high wheel slip when braking. Preventing lockup is accomplished by modulating fluid pressure to the wheel brake units.

The hydraulic system is a three channel design.

The front wheel brakes are controlled individually and the rear wheel brakes in tandem (Fig. 1). The ABS electrical system is separate from other electrical circuits in the vehicle. A specially programmed controller antilock brake unit operates the system components.

ABS system major components include:

  • Controller Antilock Brakes (CAB)
  • Hydraulic Control Unit (HCU)
  • Wheel Speed Sensors (WSS)
  • ABS Warning Light


Battery voltage is supplied to the CAB ignition terminal when the ignition switch is turned to Run position.

The CAB performs a system initialization procedure at this point. Initialization consists of a static and dynamic self check of system electrical components.

The static and dynamic checks occurs at ignition start up. During the dynamic check, the CAB briefly cycles the pump and solenoids to verify operation. An audible noise may be heard during this self check.

This noise should be considered normal.

Fig. 1 Antilock Brake System Fig. 1 Antilock Brake System











11 - CAB/HCU

If an ABS component exhibits a fault during initialization, the CAB illuminates the amber warning light and registers a fault code in the microprocessor memory.

The CAB monitors wheel speed sensor inputs continuously while the vehicle is in motion. However, the CAB will not activate any ABS components as long as sensor inputs indicate normal braking.

During normal braking, the master cylinder, power booster and wheel brake units all function as they would in a vehicle without ABS. The HCU components are not activated.

The purpose of the antilock system is to prevent wheel lockup during periods of high wheel slip. Preventing lockup helps maintain vehicle braking action and steering control.

The antilock CAB activates the system whenever sensor signals indicate periods of high wheel slip.

High wheel slip can be described as the point where wheel rotation begins approaching 20 to 30 percent of actual vehicle speed during braking. Periods of high wheel slip occur when brake stops involve high pedal pressure and rate of vehicle deceleration.

The antilock system prevents lockup during high slip conditions by modulating fluid apply pressure to the wheel brake units.

Brake fluid apply pressure is modulated according to wheel speed, degree of slip and rate of deceleration.

Sensors at each front wheel convert wheel speed into electrical signals. These signals are transmitted to the CAB for processing and determination of wheel slip and deceleration rate.

The ABS system has three fluid pressure control channels. The front brakes are controlled separately and the rear brakes in tandem. A speed sensor input signal indicating a high slip condition activates the CAB antilock program.

Two solenoid valves are used in each antilock control channel. The valves are all located within the HCU valve body and work in pairs to either increase, hold, or decrease apply pressure as needed in the individual control channels.

The solenoid valves are not static during antilock braking. They are cycled continuously to modulate pressure. Solenoid cycle time in antilock mode can be measured in milliseconds.

Controller antilock brakes


The CAB is mounted on the top of the hydraulic control unit (Fig. 2). The CAB operates the ABS system and is separate from other vehicle electrical circuits.

CAB voltage source is through the ignition switch in the RUN position.


The CAB contains dual microprocessors. A logic block in each microprocessor receives identical sensor signals. These signals are processed and compared simultaneously.

The CAB contains a self check program that illuminates the ABS warning light when a system fault  is detected. Faults are stored in a diagnostic program memory and are accessible with the DRB scan tool.

ABS faults remain in memory until cleared, or until after the vehicle is started approximately 50 times. Stored faults are not erased if the battery is disconnected.

NOTE: If the CAB needs to be replaced, the rear axle type and tire revolutions per mile must be programed into the new CAB. For axle type refer to Group 3 Differential and Driveline. For tire revolutions per mile refer to Group 22 Tire and Wheels. To program the CAB refer to the Chassis Diagnostic Manual.

Fig. 2 CAB/HCU Fig. 2 CAB/HCU

1 - CAB



4 - HCU

Hydraulic control unit


The hydraulic control unit (HCU) consists of a valve body, pump, two accumulators and a motor (Fig. 2). The assembly is mounted on the driverside inner fender under the hood.


The pump, motor, and accumulators are combined into an assembly attached to the valve body. The accumulators store the extra fluid which had to be dumped from the brakes. This is done to prevent the wheels from locking up. The pump provides the fluid volume needed and is operated by a DC type motor.

The motor is controlled by the CAB.

During normal braking, the HCU solenoid valves and pump are not activated. The master cylinder and power booster operate the same as a vehicle without an ABS brake system.

The valve body contains the solenoid valves. The valves modulate brake pressure during antilock braking and are controlled by the CAB.

The HCU provides three channel pressure control to the front and rear brakes. One channel controls the rear wheel brakes in tandem. The two remaining channels control the front wheel brakes individually.

During antilock braking, the solenoid valves are opened and closed as needed. The valves are not static. They are cycled rapidly and continuously to modulate pressure and control wheel slip and deceleration.

During antilock braking, solenoid valve pressure modulation occurs in three stages, pressure decrease, pressure hold, and pressure increase. The valves are all contained in the valve body portion of the HCU.


The inlet valve is closed and the outlet valve is opened during the pressure decrease cycle.

A pressure decrease cycle is initiated when speed sensor signals indicate high wheel slip at one or more wheels. At this point, the CAB closes the inlet to prevent the driver from further increasing the brake pressure and locking the brakes. The CAB then opens the outlet valve, which also opens the return circuit to the accumulators. Fluid pressure is allowed to bleed off (decrease) as needed to prevent wheel lock.

Once the period of high wheel slip has ended, the CAB closes the outlet valve and begins a pressure increase or hold cycle as needed.


Both solenoid valves are closed in the pressure hold cycle. Fluid apply pressure in the control channel is maintained at a constant rate. The CAB maintains the hold cycle until sensor inputs indicate a pressure change is necessary.


The inlet valve is open and the outlet valve is closed during the pressure increase cycle. The pressure increase cycle is used to counteract unequal wheel speeds. This cycle controls re-application of fluid apply pressure due to changing road surfaces or wheel speed.

Wheel speed sensor


The ABS brake system uses 3 wheel speed sensors.

A sensor is mounted to each front steering knuckles.

The third sensor is mounted on top of the rear axle differential housing.


The WSS consists of a magnet surrounded by windings from a single strand of wire. The sensor sends a small AC signal to the CAB. This signal is generated by magnetic induction. The magnetic induction is created when a toothed sensor ring (exciter ring or tone wheel) passes the stationary magnetic WSS.

When the ring gear is rotated, the exciter ring passes the tip of the WSS. As the exciter ring tooth approaches the tip of the WSS, the magnetic lines of force expand, causing the magnetic field to cut across the sensor's windings. This, in turn causes current to flow through the WSS circuit (Fig. 3) in one direction.

When the exciter ring tooth moves away from the sensor tip, the magnetic lines of force collapse cutting the winding in the opposite direction. This causes the current to flow in the opposite direction.

Every time a tooth of the exciter ring passes the tip of the WSS, an AC signal is generated. Each AC signal (positive to negative signal or sinewave) is interpreted by the CAB. It then compares the frequency of the sinewave to a time value to calculate vehicle speed. The CAB continues to monitor the frequency to determine a deceleration rate that would indicate a possible wheel-locking tendency.

The signal strength of any magnetic induction sensor is directly affected by:

  • Magnetic field strength; the stronger the magnetic field, the stronger the signal
  • Number of windings in the sensor; more windings provide a stronger signal
  • Exciter ring speed; the faster the exciter ring/ tone wheel rotates, the stronger the signal will be
  • Distance between the exciter ring teeth and WSS; the closer the WSS is to the exciter ring/tone wheel, the stronger the signal will be

The rear WSS is not adjustable. A clearance specification has been established for manufacturing tolerances.

If the clearance is not within these specifications, then either the WSS or other components may be damaged. The clearance between the WSS and the exciter ring is 0.005 - 0.050 in.

Fig. 3 Operation of the Wheel Speed Sensor Fig. 3 Operation of the Wheel Speed Sensor


2 - CAB



5 - COIL

The assembly plant performs a "Rolls Test" on every vehicle that leaves the assembly plant. One of the test performed is a test of the WSS. To properly test the sensor, the assembly plant connects test equipment to the Data Link Connector (DLC). This connector is located to the right of the steering column and attached to the lower portion of the instrument panel (Fig. 4). The rolls test terminal is spliced to the WSS circuit. The vehicle is then driven on a set of rollers and the WSS output is monitored for proper operation.

Abs warning lamp


The amber ABS warning lamp and red warning lamp are located in the instrument cluster. The amber ABS warning lamp illuminates at start-up to perform a self check. The lamp goes out when the self check program determines the system is operating normal. The red brake warning lamp is used to alert the driver of a hydraulic fault or that the parking brake is applied.

Fig. 4 Data Link Connector - Typical Fig. 4 Data Link Connector - Typical



If an ABS component exhibits a fault the CAB will illuminate the ABS warning lamp and register a trouble code in the microprocessor. The lamp is controlled by the CAB. The CAB controls the lamp sending a message to the instrument cluster.

If red warning lamp is illuminate with the amber warning lamp, this may indicate a electronic brake distribution fault.

The red warning lamp will illuminate if an ABS component exhibits a fault and the amber lamp is burned out.

    Dodge Durango (DN) 1998-2003 Service Manual


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