ESC / ESP / DSC Warning Message or Light on Dashboard
On vehicles equipped with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) also referred as ESP or DSC, a warning message or light may come on indicating that the system has been disabled.
If your ESC, ESP or DSC light stays on when driving, there is a malfunction detected by electronic stability control and the stability control has been disabled.
In the majority of cases, the problem is caused due to issues with the ABS module. It is common for additional lights to come on, such as ABS, when the ESC light is on.
This is a list of common problems that can cause the ESC light to go off or malfunction.
- Brake light switch. A defective brake light switch can trigger the ESC light. This is a common problem. Easy to replace and inexpensive.
- Bad wheel speed sensor. Clean or replace the ABS sensor.
- ABS, ESP, ESC, DSC module malfunction. Needs to be properly diagnosed.
- Steering angle sensor. The sensor may require calibration.
What should you do first?
On your dashboard, there is an ESC button that may have been pressed accidentally. If that's the case you can manually turn the ESC light off.
- Start the car.
- Find the switch that says ESC, ESP or DSC on the dash and press it for three seconds.
- Look on your instrument cluster to see if the light turned off.
ESC Light and Check Engine Light
Do you have both ESC light and check engine light on at the same time? The Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Engine Control Unit (ECU) which triggers the check engine light are two different systems.
These two systems are not directly related. If both lights have turned on that means that you have more than one problem on your car.
How to troubleshoot ESC
You will need to have the proper tools in order to diagnose ESC light problems. Most simple OBD-II code readers are not able to communicate with the ABS module. Use a diagnostic scanner such as Autel MD802 or Launch Creader to scan the multiple systems on your car via the OBD-II port.
Steps to troubleshoot ESC system
|Step 1: Plug in the scanner on the OBD-II port under the dashboard.|
|Step 2: Turn ignition to ON position. Do not start the car.|
|Step 3: Access the ESC and ABS menus and read fault codes.|
If your vehicle is still under warranty, you may want to take your car to your dealer to have the ESC problem properly diagnosed. There shouldn't be a charge to fix ESC problems if the vehicle has warranty coverage.
ABS vs ESC
The Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) is activated only when you apply the brakes. ESC monitors the wheel speed of all four wheel and the position of the steering wheel and may engage at any time during driving when it notices that the vehicle is skidding such as during a hard turning.
ABS and ESC light on
You may notice that both ABS and ESC lights have turned on at the same time. That's because the ESC system depends on the ABS module to function properly. Therefore if there is a problem with the ABS module ESC will not function either.
Even if you turn off the ESC, the ABS and brake system will continue to operate normally unless the problem is the ABS system.
ESC Light Flashing
Under normal operation, the ESC light should only be on when you start the car for a couple of seconds and then turn off. If the ESC light is flashing when driving that typically, that means that the system is engaged and it trying to keep the vehicle under control.
It doesn't mean that there is something wrong with the ESC system. It means that you may be going too fast and should slow down. ESC will flash if you are going through a corner too fast.
The light turns off under normal driving conditions .
Does my car have ESC?
Most cars have ESC installed but it may be called something different on your make. Electronic stability control (ESC), may also be referred to as electronic stability program (ESP) or dynamic stability control (DSC). Here is a partial list of what ESC is called on different makes.
|ESC||Hyundai, Kia, Chevrolet, Dodge, Chrysler, Audi, Saturn|
|ESP||Mercedes-Benz, VW, Sprinter, Suzuki, BMW, Renault, Jeep|
|DSC||Mazda, BMW, Jaguar|
|StabiliTrak||General Motors, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall, GM|
ESC is meant to avoid accidents but it will not be able to prevent all of them. Don't drive too fast. Follow speed limits and drive according to the road conditions. Excessive speed while turning and abrupt maneuvers can still result in serious accidents.
Changing Tire Sizes
If you install different tire size on the front vs. the back you may cause the ESC to malfunction. ESC may also come on when you are using a spare tire that is a different diameter than the rest of the tires on the car.
ESC Light After Battery Replacement
If the ESC light stays on after you replace the battery, don't panic. All you need to do is drive the car for a few minutes and make sure to make several left and right turn. Once the system does a self check it should reset the ESC light on its own.