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
One of the most common problems that triggers your stability control light to come is a dead battery or disconnecting the battery. Once the car is driven for a few minutes, stability control light should reset on its own.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
|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.|
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are both 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.
Why is my 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 stability control?
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|
Why am I getting ESC warning light on the dashboard?
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?
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.