The Story:

My nephew drives a 6-speed Chrysler Crossfire, and it’s a car that I’ve always really, really liked. I find the design to be nothing short of breathtaking. The boat-tail is such a unique styling element that it instantly differentiates itself from every other car on the road. Additionally, it actually has a ton of space. I feel that for a single person who needs to commute everyday this car is almost ideal. Deceptively quick for its time, the 6-speed makes it a pleasure to drive. The shifting is smooth and effortless and the clutch is one of the softest I’ve ever felt. The downside to this car, is that it’s a Mercedes.

That’s not a knock on Mercedes. They clearly make sumptuously designed luxury cars that the majority of the world lusts after. My problem comes from repairing the cars. I feel that the Crossfire has a sensor for almost anything you can think of. As such, while the car is a true driver’s car. Its unfriendly nature in regards to maintenance can dampen your experience. Changing the ABS sensor is one of those unpleasant moments.

To begin with the Crossfire has a stability/traction control system that pulls information from various sources. You have individual ABS sensors at the wheels as well as an ABS control module, plus a yaw sensor centrally located within the car. The yaw sensor is notoriously fidgety. My nephew had already been driving the car for some time with the abs light on, so we knew there was a problem. This was exacerbated though when one of the front wheels began to intermittently lockup. This actually is kinda scary… After digging around a bit all fingers pointed at the yaw sensor, which is not cheap. Luckily I was able to source a remanufactured unit for about $150. With the yaw sensor installed the car drove fine for a few months but then it locked up the wheel again. $#%@$@!

Before throwing any additional money at a yaw sensor we decided to replace the two front ABS sensors. We’re replacing the front ones since the wheel that continues to lockup is the front driver’s side wheel. Now, while I would normally check each sensor to see if they are functioning correctly, after 100K miles and given that they only cost $35 each we went ahead and changed them both. That being said, you can check the resistance of each sensor while spinning the wheel to see if they are indeed malfunctioning.

The Fix:

The process to change the sensor is actually pretty easy once you know what you’re doing. I would suggest that you start with the driver’s side first, as access is a bit easier. You’ll need to jack up that side of the car and remove the wheel. With the wheel removed you’ll see that there is a plug on the upper side of the wheel well towards the rear of the well. The plug will have two separate cables running into it. The trickiest part of this is loosening the plug. While most plugs have some sort of plastic retaining clip/tooth to hold it in-place, this design is completely different. If you look closely you’ll see a wire metal clip that surrounds the plug. You’ll need to lift the clip and remove it. The easiest way I found is to start by spraying some WD-40 on the clip. After pressing down on the wire a few times to make sure it is loose you can either try to pop it up from the side, or from the center. Either way the wire has to come off. Once it has been removed you can just wiggle the plug out. With the plug out you’ll notice that it is actually split in two. One side goes to the ABS sensor and the other goes to the brake caliper sensor.

The ABS sensor is located directly behind the dust shield. You really can’t see it if you’re looking at the brake assembly from the side, you’ll have to crane your neck into the wheel well. To remove the sensor there are two star-socket bolts that you’ll need to remove. For the life of me I have no idea why anyone would ever use a star-socket bolt, but it is what it is. They’ll be a little tight at first as the factory puts a tinge of loctite on the bolts. Once you break them free though they’ll come right out. The sensor actually goes under a small plastic bracket that holds the wires in-place. When installing the new sensor it’s a tad finicky to line everything up. Additionally, since you’ll have to reuse the original bolts (at least I did), it’s a good idea to put a couple drops of loctite, just in case. I couldn’t find a torque setting for these bolts, so just use some common sense and make it tight, but not hulk-level tight.

That’s it really. All you’ll have to do is put everything back together. Now, before working on the car I had disconnected the battery. I noticed when starting the car back up that the BAS ESP lights were on. This I learned is a common occurrence when you disconnect the battery on a Crossfire. Basically you’ll have to recalibrate the system by first centering the steering wheel, then turning the steering wheel from full lock to lock, and finally centering it again. Sure enough after doing that the light turned off.

The Result:

Since this repair my nephew says the car has been driving fine, although he does have a TPMS light on and says that the BAS ESP light go on intermittently. Most importantly though, the wheel has not locked uo again. Digging around a bit I’ve learned that in addition to the yaw sensor and the abs sensors, the air pressure sensors can also lead to a malfunction in the system. Since these sensors and batteries are currently 12-years old, he’ll be replacing these soon just to be on the safe side. Rating this little endeavor:

  • Anyone can do it!
  • You’re in too deep! Seek help!

Clearly a: “Anyone can do it!”. Hopefully after reading this you’ll breeze through the steps. The biggest issue I had was learning there was a metal clip. I couldn’t find that information anywhere. Plus, the Crossfire I was working on was quite dirty, so it was tough to see it in the first place. Hopefully you all don’t waste as much time as I did, good luck!

Useful Parts & Tools to Help you with this DIY Project: