Wheel Speed Sensor Cost and Buying Guide

The wheel speed sensor is an integral part of any vehicle. It sits at the wheel to deliver critical information to the ECM (engine control module). If you are experiencing any driving issues or require more information regarding wheel speed sensors, this buying guide can help. 

What Does a Wheel Speed Sensor Do?

The wheel speed sensor is used to monitor the wheel rotation, often providing wheel RPM (revolutions per minute) measurements, and assists the ABS (anti-lock brake system), traction, and stability control features.

Where Is the Wheel Speed Sensor Located?

Since these components help communicate with the anti-lock brake system, the traction, and stability control features, this sensor is part of the ABS on a vehicle.

You will find wheel speed sensors on the tires, although they will be different for front tires than rear ones. Typically, front sensors will sit near the brake rotors, while rear sensors sit in the rear end housing.

How Does It Work?

Wheel speed sensors consist of a magnet wrapped in a coil and a sensor ring with teeth. There is a gap between the toothed sensor ring and the magnet, creating an electric field as it comes in contact when the wheels rotate. The timing of these impulses provides measurements for the ABS and the ECM of the vehicle for optimal operation.

If there are discrepancies in the readings due to slippery driving conditions, the vehicle may activate the ABS, traction control, or stability control features to maintain control. 

How Many Wheel Speed Sensors Are on a Car?

Typically, there are four separate wheel speed sensors on a car, which help guide the vehicle for optimal operation. Although a few makes and models only offer one wheel speed sensor, this setup is not standard.

Therefore, because there are usually four separate components, each will eventually need replacing.

It can be challenging to determine which wheel speed sensor is bad if you have any issues.

How Do You Know if Your Wheel Speed Sensor Is Bad?

Although it can be challenging to diagnose an issue with a wheel speed sensor, several indications can help pinpoint this problem. Your vehicle may exhibit one or more of these side-effects if your wheel speed sensor is bad.

1. Anti-Lock Brakes Not Working Correctly

The ABS is there to prevent a lockup if you slam on your brake pedal suddenly so your vehicle will not skid or you lose control due to the wheels locking up.

If you are in an unfortunate situation where you notice your anti-lock brake system is not working correctly, you may have a bad wheel speed sensor.

2. Less Traction Control

Much like the ABS, the traction control on your vehicle will provide assistance in conditions where one or multiple wheels begin to spin differently than the others. This way, your car keeps safe contact with the road surface.

If you find that your vehicle suddenly hydroplanes easily or loses traction in inclement weather, your wheel speed sensor may need replacing.

3. Warning Lights Activate

If your vehicle has a wheel speed sensor problem, the vehicle may display a Check Engine light or activate the ABS or Traction Control lights. In addition, many newer cars use electronic panels to provide details of issues so you can have them checked as soon as possible.

You should never ignore or overlook any active warning lights on your vehicle. These warnings are there to provide you with enough time to remedy the situation before severe issues occur.

4. Speedometer Not Working Correctly

Although you may notice other elements if your wheel speed sensors are bad, your speedometer may not work correctly in some rare cases. So if the vehicle speed measurement is off and you have concerns, it could be due to these sensors.

Driving can be dangerous if you are unsure of your speed, so if this is an issue for you, pay a quick visit to your local mechanic shop for diagnostics.

5. Rough Driving Elements

You may not have the flashing lights or the odd speed measurements to indicate a bad wheel speed sensor. Alternatively, some other indications can point to this being an issue for your vehicle.

Some rough driving elements include:

  • Transmission revving too high
  • Transmission not shifting smoothly between gears
  • Overdrive lights active
  • Rough braking: unintentionally severe braking with slight pressure, or braking feels too light for the pedal pressure

While bad wheel speed sensors should not typically alter the braking elements during vehicle operation, they can be a concern.

What Problems Can a Bad Wheel Speed Sensor Cause?

If you face a failing wheel speed sensor, you may notice a few problems in your vehicle operation, including:

  • ABS turning off automatically
  • Traction and stability control deactivating on their own
  • Other driver-assist features not working
  • May suffer transmission problems if left without service for too long

Therefore, you do not want to wait too long to replace a wheel speed sensor. Otherwise, you risk having operating issues with your vehicle or causing more damage to your car.

What Is the Average Cost of a Wheel Speed Sensor?

Although the price of wheel speed sensors will vary depending on your vehicle, you can expect to pay between $150 or more for each one.

Of course, that price is the part itself, and you will need to pay for labor when having the work completed at a professional mechanic shop. Your location can also affect the total cost of the replacement. You can explore estimates on a wheel speed sensor replacement through RepairPal’s Online Estimator.

a) CarParts.com

CarParts.com provides an extensive range of wheel speed sensors for many makes and models of vehicles. You can purchase the sensor alone for only $25 to $50 or the entire package with cabling and components.

Their catalog of wheel speed sensors includes over 2,700 items, so there is a good chance of finding one to suit your vehicle.

b) FindtheBest.com

FindtheBest.com is an easy-to-navigate platform to search for wheel speed sensors. You will find their top choices and the ability to search for your specific make and model of car for necessary parts.

They have a team of individuals who search the internet to find you the best products possible for wheel speed sensors and start at $25 per item.

c) PepBoys.com

PepBoys have locations throughout the United States to provide exceptional parts for all of your vehicle needs. For example, you can use their platform to navigate to Anti-Lock (ABS) Brake Parts and select your car’s year, make, and model to narrow down the search for wheel speed sensor parts.

They also help provide coupons, discount codes, and specials for various products they carry throughout their stores.

d) YourMechanic.com

If you require a professional to come to you and replace your wheel speed sensors, YourMechanic.com is a convenient option. They can perform the service at your home or office and bring the parts with them.

Their prices are relatively average compared to other professional mechanic shops. For example, a Dodge Caravan wheel speed sensor replacement item will cost $73.53 plus labor and taxes.

e) TE Connectivity

TE Connectivity has a selection of wheel speed sensors in their parts catalog for several vehicle models. They specialize in electronic components that are durable and reliable for the best solution possible. If your vehicle is compatible with TE Connectivity products, you are sure to be satisfied with their exceptional quality and construction.

In addition, they offer telephone, email, and live chat support to help you with your purchase or tracking an order.

FAQs

i. Can I drive with a broken wheel speed sensor?

You can drive with a broken wheel speed sensor, but it is not recommended to wait too long for a replacement. Your vehicle’s safety features, including the ABS, traction, and stability control, will not work correctly, creating a higher chance for you to lose control of your car in bad weather conditions.

ii. Can a wheel speed sensor cause limp mode?

Thankfully, a bad wheel speed sensor cannot cause your vehicle to enter limp mode. Consequently, the vehicle may operate at reduced functionality, and therefore triggering other electronic systems to give warnings and causing the limp mode to activate due to other elements.

iii. How long does it take to replace a wheel speed sensor?

Replacing a wheel speed sensor is not a complex procedure, and you can often complete it in 20 to 30 minutes. But, naturally, the total time can vary depending on if you need to replace the front or rear sensors and how they attach to your vehicle.

iv. Is a wheel speed sensor the same as an ABS sensor?

Yes, the wheel speed sensor is the active component in the anti-lock braking system in a car. Manufacturers may refer to the wheel speed sensor as the ABS sensor or the vehicle speed sensor in many manuals and documentation.

Author: DJ

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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