ESC / ESP / DSC Warning Message or Light on Dashboard

By YOUCANIC on Aug 9, 2019

Stability System Problems, Causes, Solutions

In this guide, we explore possible problems that may trigger the stability control warning on the dashboard.

Traction control light may be labeled as ESC / ESP / DSC depending on your car manufacturer.

This guide applies to cars equipped with any of the following systems:

  • ESC - Electronic Stability Control
  • ESP - Electronic Stability Program 
  • DSC - Dynamic Stability Control 

Common Problems

If the stability control light is on, one of the following components could be the culprit. 

  • Brake light switch - A defective brake light switch can trigger the ESC light. This is a common problem. Easy to replace and inexpensive. 
  • ABS 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.
  • Low battery 

Troubleshooting Stability Control System

Below are a few simple things to check if your stability control light is on. 

Ensure stability control isn't turned off 

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. esp light stays on dashbaord

Read ABS Control System Codes

Do you have both ESC light and ABS light on? 

You will need to have the ABS OBD-II scanner to diagnose ESC and ABS 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.

If your vehicle is still under warranty, take your car to the dealer to have the ESC problem properly diagnosed.

There shouldn't be a charge to fix stability problems if the vehicle has an existing warranty. 

how to scan esc off light codes


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. 

Why are both ABS and ESC light on?

esp light and loss of power

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.

Why is my ESC Light Flashing? 

hyundai kia esp light warning problem

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 stability control? 

what does esp off mean

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.

Acronym Make 
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

Why am I getting ESC warning light on the dashboard? 

esp switch button location

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.

Would different tires trigger traction or ABS light to come on? 

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. 

Why am I getting stability light warning after changing the battery? 

esp light meaning

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 stability light on its own. 



Marjorie Jones…, 2019-05-02

My Esc light is staying and not flashing in my 2007 Kia Sportage.

Letasha Bridges, 2019-05-07

My service esc light stays goes on off bit never flashes??

Rosalie Ek…, 2019-07-29


Lyle Fletcher, 2019-11-20

My Astra Vxr esc light stays on all the time and mot garage won’t past mot

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