- When the electronic stability detects control within the system, it operates the brakes to help steer the vehicle where the driver intends to go.
- Some ESC systems also reduce engine power until control is regained.
- The ESC functions when it detects a probable loss of steering control such as when the vehicle is not going where the driver is the steering which commonly happens when skidding during emergency swerves, oversteering or understeering or hydroplaning,
- During an optimum performance driving the ESC can function when it is not required, because steering input may not always be indicative of the intended travel direction
The ESC can intervene on any surface; It reacts and corrects skidding much faster and more effective than the usual driving, often before the driver is aware of any loss of control, which has led to some concern that electronic stability control to become confident in their driving habit. For this reason, the ESC systems alert the driver when they are activated, so that the driver's vehicle handling limits will be achieved. Some vehicles are equipped with dashboard indicator lights or alert tones while some allow the vehicle's corrected course to deviate slightly from the driver's commanded direction even if possible to more precisely match it.