How Long Can You Drive a Car With a Bad Speed Sensor?

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When your car’s wheel speed goes bad, you’d get the sign, apparently. It either triggers the check engine light to appear on your dashboard, or you would notice several other signs that something is actually wrong with your car wheels.

Now, the big question is, how long can you drive a car with a bad speed sensor?

Normally, a bad wheel sensor won’t cause your car to stop running; so, you could still be able to drive long distances still.

But then, owing to the fact that modern cars are now more sophisticated than ever – integrating several smart systems that work correlatively, a bad wheel sensor could possibly bring your car to a stop.

How Long Can You Drive a Car With a Bad Speed Sensor?

It is important to understand the work of speed sensors, and that would paint a clear picture of how long you could drive when one – or all – of them goes bad.

Speed sensors are attached to each wheel of a vehicle; so, if your car has four wheels, it’d also have 4 wheel speed sensors.

The function of these sensors is to detect the speed of each wheel they are attached to and pass the information to the transmission/ABS/ESP control unit system in the form of electrical signals.

More so, the wheel sensors newer modern cars can detect the rotational speed of each wheel they are attached to.

Now, having known the function(s) of wheel speed sensors, here’s what happens when one or all of them goes bad.

When a speed sensor is faulty or completely bad, it would send wrong or no signal to the connected system, which could be the ECM, ESP, or ABS system.

When these wrong signals are processed by the ABS system, it could cause you to experience certain abnormalities such as difficulty in changing gears, some driver assistance technologies may begin to malfunction (ex. cruise control), and other possible scenarios.

So, a bad speed sensor doesn’t actually stop your car from running, but the wrong signals it sends to the ABS or transmission can trigger certain smart components of your car to stop functioning properly.

That said, driving a car with a bad wheel sensor is dangerous and not advisable. More so, speed sensors are inexpensive to replace.

Even though it might just be one sensor that went bad, it is advisable to change all of them at a go since they are inexpensive and won’t take much time to get fixed.

How Long Can You Drive a Car With a Bad Wheel Speed Sensor?

How Long Can You Drive a Car With a Bad Speed Sensor

Don’t get confused here, wheel speed sensors are the same as “speed sensors.” In fact, they are also called ABS sensors or transmission sensors. Hence, what we’ve explained above applies to this question, too.

When you get the symptoms that your wheel speed sensor is likely faulty or bad, you can troubleshoot to known the exactly faulty sensor.

Regardless, if you can, change all of them at a go; it is more beneficial and thoughtful.

What Happens When a Wheel Speed Sensor Goes Bad?

The effect of a bad wheel speed sensor may differ from vehicle to vehicle. However, generally, your car’s performance would be affected.

Below are some common scenarios that occur when your car’s speed sensors fail.

1. Loss of Traction

You will notice that your car doesn’t seem balanced on the road; there’d be a significant change in┬átraction control, and you’d find it difficult to ride on hills.

There are other similar signs you may notice, but a loss of stability is the commonest.

2. Check Engine Light Will Come On

Apparently, when the transmission reads the wrong signals from the bad speed sensor, it may shut down certain controls and illuminate the check engine light on your dashboard.

3. Transmission Problems

Apparently, a bad/failing wheel speed sensor will directly affect your car’s transmission – if your car runs with an automatic transmission.

Hence, one of the commonest signs of a bad wheel speed sensor is inconsistent automatic transmission operations such as hard or delayed shifts, inconsistent gear changes, etc.

Loss of control, stability, and traction, as well as transmissions-related issues, are the commonest things that occur when your car’s wheel speed sensor(s) goes bad.

Related Posts: How To Know Which ABS Sensor Is Bad


Are you searching to know long you can drive with a bad speed sensor? Well, there’s no estimated time you can drive with a failing vehicle speed sensor (wheel speed sensor).

However, when you get the signs that your speed sensors are about to go bad, do well to act proactively to prevent costlier repairs such as transmission failure.

Also, you should know that speed sensors can be referred to as vehicle speed sensors, wheel speed sensors, ABS sensors, or transmission sensors.

So, when you see people mentioning either of these aforementioned names, they are referring to the same thing – speed sensors.

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