Traction Control Light Turning On? Here’s How You Fix It

by Petra CameronApril 8, 2022

An illuminated dashboard usually indicates something wrong, and maintenance is needed. However, in the case of traction control lights, they usually just mean the system is working properly. However, that is not always the case.

What causes the TCS light to turn on?

Slippery road conditions cause traction loss, causing your tires to slip, causing them to slip. When the TCS is on, the system will notify you by a flashing light on your dashboard. What are the signs that it isn't working properly or something wrong?

The first thing we should learn about traction control is how it works. In addition, we will discuss a few common causes that may lead to it appearing, and if that is the case, we will show you how to turn it off.

What Is Traction Control And What Does It Do?

It was rear-wheel-drive performance cars that introduced traction control in the early 1970s. Traction control, however, didn't become mainstream until 1987. In 2012, TCS was mandated on all passenger vehicles after Toyota and Mercedes were the first to offer it.

Initially, traction control was a standalone feature in select cars. In most cars today, stability control is a standard feature. There are many names for it, including ESC, ETS, TCS, and DTC.

Wheels are equipped with speed sensors to control traction. As soon as one loses traction, the system alerts the driver that they are spinning too fast. A wheel's power is limited, or brakes are applied according to how the system reacts.

Try this if you haven't noticed the system at work. On a wet or icy day, look for a secluded parking lot. Turn on the system, and hold the gas for two or three seconds after a complete stop. Typically, the wheels will slip as soon as the RPMs climb.

In addition, traction control will keep your car facing straight. By removing your hands from the wheel and repeating the above method, you notice that you do not spin sideways.

On the other side, make sure you’re in a secluded parking lot with no people or obstacles. Repeat the process, but with the system off. You will notice RPMs climb, keep climbing, and your car will turn sideways.

Common Reasons The Traction Control Light Might Illuminate

The following are a few scenarios when you may notice that the TCS light is on when it isn't supposed to be on.

  1. Faulty Wheel Speed Sensors

After reading our explanation of traction control, you should understand how it works. You need to understand why a faulty wheel speed sensor may cause it to malfunction. If one of them isn't working properly, it will likely lead to a TCS light displaying. They're responsible for alerting the system when there has been a loss of traction.

Options For Replacing A Wheel Speed Sensor

You can have a professional determine which of the sensors is out and replace it for about $135-$250. If you want to do it yourself, you can do it for about $100.

An OBD2 scanner can usually tell you which wheel it is if you decide to do the replacement yourself. So, you should be fine with something between $20 and $100. A local parts supply store is likely to be able to read your vehicle's code for free as well.

  1. ABS System Malfunctioning

ABS and TCS systems often share many of the same components. Consequently, if you have an issue with your ABS, the traction control light may come on. This means you will likely see both a TCS and an ABS light.

Replacing An ABS Control Module

This issue may be related to either a faulty ABS control module or a faulty wheel speed sensor. With an OBD2 scanner, you can find out which one is malfunctioning. A mechanic will charge you around $1,000 to replace the control module, or you can do it yourself for about $800. 

  1. TCS Needs Reprogramming

In some cases, you may need to reprogram your traction control light if it shows up when it shouldn't. This is a random occurrence that happens from time to time.

Reprogramming A TCS

A TCS system can be reprogrammed by a professional. It is probably best to take it to a qualified mechanic. The repair shouldn't take more than an hour. An estimated diagnostic fee of $100 is expected, and a labor fee of $50-$100.

Why Is The Traction Control Light Coming On?

The TCS is probably just doing its job, so you should feel lucky your car is equipped with it. You don't want to ignore an important safety feature if there is a problem. If you are not skilled at working on vehicles, the best thing you can do is bring it to a professional who can take care of it.

Are you interested in learning more about cars and their maintenance? Head over to the KeepDriving website and check out our blog post on how much is a multicar insurance discount.

Social Media Manager Petra ensures the team looks as good online as we do personally, or that's what she says when asked. Aside from maintaining our online presence, she also mentors young professionals through our social media management team.
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