Adding an ABS indicator

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My Name: omarsmith

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Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
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I'm still running my faithful C3 (2002, 1.4L, Petrol, Manual) - and like every C3, the introduction model from 10 years ago has ABS as standard.

Icy conditions are a given during the British winter and so it's inevitable that this feature will become more important. While any driver can feel the ABS pulsing through the brake pedal, I would find it useful (for my passengers' sake more than my own) to fit a dash light which momentarily illuminates when the ABS operates.

For this reason can anybody tell me if there is a wire in the car's electrical loom which becomes live while the ABS operates?

Thanks
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Hello omarsmith,

I had a look at the ABS system and it looks like a very closed system. I don't see any easy accessible point to pick up for an ABS indicator. I would advise against modifying the ABS system as its a vital safety system and modifying it in any way is likely to void your car insurance unless you get a previous agreement from the insurer to cover the modification.

The ABS system is provided to allow the driver to give the brake pedal full pedal travel without locking up the wheels. This can be useful to allow full steering control under emergency braking conditions which, without ABS would require the driver to perform cadence braking, which, to my knowledge is not taught in UK driving lessons.

In wet conditions ABS may provide shorter stopping distances, but its ability to allow steering while heavy braking in the wet is what makes it a very useful option to have.

On snow and ice, ABS doesn't decrease stopping distance and my even increase overall stopping distance, but its steering control under heavy braking can help, but don't expect too much steering response on ice (with or without ABS).

Its best not to be braking while travelling on ice as this can cause you real problems in directional travel.
I would find it useful (for my passengers' sake more than my own) to fit a dash light which momentarily illuminates when the ABS operates.
If you are braking hard enough to activate the ABS, then your passengers will already know as their knuckles will be white, blood will drain from their faces and the seat belt will start feeling rather uncomfortable quite rapidly.


The light that is useful for the driver to see is the 'traction control' light. Not fitted to early cars, but an option on later C3s, it provides indication to the driver when the traction control ECU is reducing torque to the road wheels to limit 'wheel spin' on slippery surfaces. The driver may not be aware of the slippery surface, or that the computer is taking over the control of power to the wheels, so the light warns the driver to take more care and pay more attention to the road conditions.
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My Name: omarsmith

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Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:42 am
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2002 (02)
Engine Size: 1.4 i
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 134000
Trim Level: Touch
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
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Hi Arfur Dent,

Thanks for your response - I'm glad somebody has had a quick look at the electronics in response to my query.
Arfur Dent wrote: If you are braking hard enough to activate the ABS, then your passengers will already know as their knuckles will be white, blood will drain from their faces and the seat belt will start feeling rather uncomfortable quite rapidly.
I would like to reassure you that my driving is very safe and rarely erratic, and that the times that ABS activates while I am driving are usually:
  • When cornering on an off-road surface (such as a gravel driveway)
  • In very wet weather (you might have noticed that it takes very little to trigger the ABS if turning a corner and touching the brake in the wet due to the forces involved).
  • In very snowy conditions as we've recently had in the UK, when it is inevitable that the system will frequently activate because of the minimal grip.
Arfur Dent wrote: The light that is useful for the driver to see is the 'traction control' light. Not fitted to early cars, but an option on later C3s, it provides indication to the driver when the traction control ECU is reducing torque to the road wheels
Though my car's ECU isn't programmed to have traction control, the indicator for it is still present on the car's dashboard (it illuminates with the on-start test). For an unknown reason the indicator lit up yesterday evening in spite of the fact that the car isn't equipped with traction control! (the ABS was activating very frequently at the time due to the recent snow/ice conditions). A brief restart cleared the indicator but the fact that it came on suggests to me that even the early release electronics are capable of implementing traction control but it simply wasn't written into the software until 2003 onwards. Shame I can't wire in an ABS indicator though.
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omarsmith wrote:In very wet weather (you might have noticed that it takes very little to trigger the ABS if turning a corner and touching the brake in the wet due to the forces involved).
Hi omarsmith, I have only once had the ABS come on while braking in the wet after having met an oncoming tractor on a country road, with the C3 with 4 adults aboard. The rest of the braking over the years, in the wet has never brought on the ABS.

I think you may have a problem with either the ABS or the suspension, tyres or rear brakes.


You mention ABS activation on corners on poor surfaces, but cornering won't bring on ABS, its the braking and the monitoring of the rotation of the road wheel compared with an expected value for the road speed that activates ABS. If the ABS is activating regularly when cornering you have some major issues with the car as you indicate you drive safely.

Traction Control is activated when the rotation of the drive wheels are not converted to as much forward movement as the computer expects.


It would be worth double checking the light you think is ABS is not actually something else because the symbols can look similar and did change through the years.
My Name: omarsmith

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Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:42 am
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2002 (02)
Engine Size: 1.4 i
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Mileage: 134000
Trim Level: Touch
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
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Thanks for your response. As an auto enthusiast and from learning a lot about car safety through my friends' mechanical experience I know a thing or two about modern mechanics.

I don't believe the ABS on my car is operating incorrectly - the suspensions are all in good working order and don't seem to be worn, but there's a couple of things that might attribute it operating more often than expected. I tend to use budget or part-worn tyres (never over-worn but not always performance brands) which I have observed makes a notable difference in the wet (compared to my friends who tend to have larger and more expensive tyres), and I haven't changed the rear brake shoes in a while (in the snow I have noted that the rear wheels lock up rather than being controlled by the ABS).

The area I live in also has a lot of failed road surfaces and country roads (some that aren't surfaced at all), which might be attributed to the ABS operating when braking for corners.

To clarify, the light I saw was not an ABS indicator - this is what the original post was about, adding an ABS indicator - but the traction control indicator which is supposed to blink when traction control (on vehicles that have it) intervene. I think the indicator lighting up was an electronic error (a month or two ago the ECU suffered some water ingress which caused similar unexpected symptoms).
My Name: omarsmith

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Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:42 am
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2002 (02)
Engine Size: 1.4 i
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 134000
Trim Level: Touch
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
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Sorry to bump an old post, but I now have a picture of the indicator that illuminated nine months ago, because lo and behold it has once again appeared, apparently spontaneously!

Since January the brakes have had an overhaul, the vehicle has had its annual service and it is currently running on performance tyres, all with a good tread depth. The electronics never suffered water ingress as previously stated, but a fault had developed with the BSI (apparently this can happen for this model of vehicle) which was professionally repaired and warrantied by BBA Reman (as detailed in this post)

The indicator is shown in the image below, and as I'm sure you will agree it is indeed a Traction Control indicator as fitted to the C3 between 2003 and 2009 (but not to my 52 plate). Confusing, eh? :?


ABS indicator self test on a Citroen C3
ABS indicator self test on a Citroen C3
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The indicator is shown in the image below, and as I'm sure you will agree it is indeed a Traction Control indicator as fitted to the C3 between 2003 and 2009 (but not to my 52 plate). Confusing, eh? :?
No, its ABS

ABS indicator on C3 2002
ABS indicator on C3 2002

ABS indicator lights for self test with ignition on for a few seconds.


From the owners handbook for the 2002-2005 model:
ABS C3 Owners Handbook 2002-2005
ABS C3 Owners Handbook 2002-2005
Image
You can find the Citroen C3 Owners Handbook for 2002 to 2005 on eBay (here)
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My Name: omarsmith

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Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:42 am
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2002 (02)
Engine Size: 1.4 i
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 134000
Trim Level: Touch
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
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Thanks for the prompt replies; it seems the handbook that was supplied as standard with my car seems to omit a few details and details features not at that time included with the car.

Pleasingly my model is equipped with ABS, and in the conditions of heavy snowfall in January it doesn't surprise me that at some point an error might be thrown out. What has me at a loss is how the ABS indicator could illuminate when I'm not braking exceptionally at all; in fact I don't remember the last time the ABS activated during a journey?
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Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: DV4 16-valve diesel (90 PS)
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omarsmith wrote:What has me at a loss is how the ABS indicator could illuminate when I'm not braking exceptionally at all;
ABS system is monitored continuously by the ABS ECU and a fault condition can occur even if you are not braking.

omarsmith wrote:in fact I don't remember the last time the ABS activated during a journey?
I don't see my ABS indicator light on a journey, only when the dash does it self test for the lamps.


I don't think you have a problem :D
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