The traction control TC and Anti-Lock Brake System ABS light both stay on for several reasons including low battery, blown fuse, programming error, improper tire pressure, and faulty wheel speed sensor. These lights can stay on for separate reasons too. The TC light can stay on due to a faulty switch, broken steering angle sensor, and yaw rate sensor. The ABS light can stay on due to a faulty ABS module and a low brake fluid.
You should fix these problems immediately to ensure the stability of the car. To know all the insights on the traction control light and ABS light on in your car, keep reading.
What Does The TC Light Mean?
The TC light on your car is an indicator of whether the traction control is activated or not. It also indicates any malfunction in the traction control system.
You might be thinking, what does traction control even mean? Traction control is a safety feature in cars. It detects whether one or more wheels are spinning at a faster rate than the others. If so, it will automatically reduce engine power and/or apply brakes to those wheels, to help restore traction and stability.
Traction Control Signs In Different Brands
Here’s what traction control light indifferent cars look like.
|Brand||Traction Control System Name||Traction Control Warning/Light Sign|
|Nissan||Traction control system or Vehicle dynamic control (VDC)||A car with a squiggly line underneath|
|Lexus||Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)||A car with a squiggly line underneath|
|Chevrolet Impala||StabiliTrak or Electronic Stability Control||Sign contains the letters TC with a slash over it|
|Chevrolet Trax||StabiliTrak or Electronic Stability Control||Sign contains the letters TC with a slash over it|
|BMW||Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)||a yellow triangle with an exclamation point inside. A circular arrow surrounds the yellow triangle/ DSC OFF|
Why Does The Traction Control Light Turn On?
The traction control light in your car can mean three different things.
The Traction Control System Is Engaged: When you turn on the car, the TCS engages, and the traction control lights lits up temporarily. Also, The traction control light or TC light in a car will come on when the system is actively working to improve traction and stability. Usually, you will notice the light is turned on during cornering or when the road is slippery. In this case, you will see the traction control light blinking, or flashing, and will go away after a few seconds.
When You Switch Off The System: When you manually turn off the traction control system, the traction control off light will come on.
When The System Malfunctions: If the traction control light lits up and doesn’t go away. It indicates something is wrong with the traction control system.
Summary:The TC light flashes for a while every time it engages and when you turn the ignition on. It doesn’t indicate any problem with your car. If the light stays on for a long time, it indicates a problem with the system.
What Does The ABS Light In Your Car Mean?
The ABS light on your car’s dashboard comes up briefly every time you turn On the car to notify you that the system is engaged. If the ABS light doesn’t go away, it indicates that something has gone wrong with the anti-lock brake system.
The ABS system uses sensors on the wheels to detect when a wheel is about to lock up. And then the system automatically adjusts the brake pressure to that wheel, allowing it to continue rotating.
This helps the driver to maintain better control of the vehicle and helps to avoid accidents.
ABS light can appear to be in different signs in different car models. In most cars, the light will be yellow or amber in color and will be labeled with the letters “ABS” or the words “Anti-lock Brake System.” The light may also have an exclamation point to indicate that there is a problem with the ABS system.
What Causes The Traction Control Light And ABS Light To Stay On?
If the traction control light or ABS light stays on, then the system has malfunctioned. Sometimes you may notice only one of the lights is on or sometimes, both lights can be on at the same time.
Also, even if you manually turn off the traction control or ABS system, the warning light will stay on if the systems malfunction.
The reasons behind these problems are more or less the same for all cars. Here is a quick overview of the problems and their solutions.
|Low/Dead Battery||Both ABS and TC light||Recharge/Replace your car’s battery|
|Inappropriate Tire Pressure||Both ABS and TC light||Inflate/deflate the tire appropriately|
|Blown Fuse||Both ABS and TC light||Replace the fuse|
|Programming Issue||Both ABS and TC light||Reset the ABS and traction control system|
|Wiring Damage||Both ABS and TC light||Replace the wiring|
|Faulty Wheel Speed Sensor||Both ABS and TC light||Replace the wheel speed sensor|
|Faulty Switch||TC light||Replace the switch|
|Broken Steering Angle Sensor||TC light||Replace the steering angle sensor|
|Broken Yaw Rate Sensor||TC light||Replace the yaw rate sensor|
|Bad Steering Rack||TC light||Replace the steering rack|
|Bad Wheel Alignment||TC light||Adjust the alignment|
|Faulty ABS Module||ABS light||Replace the ABS module|
|Low Brake Fluid||ABS light||Refill the brake fluid|
Reason 1: Low/Dead Battery
ABS and traction control both are electronic systems that are dependent on the ECU thus, are powered by the car’s battery.
If the battery charge is too low, it can cause the ABS and traction system to malfunction or shut down. And, it will result in the ABS and traction warning lights coming on. A weak or dead battery can also cause this issue.
If the battery charge is low, you will see the battery warning light also stays up with these lights.
Recharge your car’s battery and if that was the problem, the ABS and TCS lights should be gone.
If the battery warning sign, TCS, and ABS lights still stay on, check if the battery is in good condition. The following video might help.
On average, a car battery lasts around 3-4 years. If your battery is older than that, you should replace it to avoid getting low power from the battery.
Reason 2: Improper Tire Pressure
When four tires of your car are inflated differently, they signal different data to the ECM module. The ABS system and Traction control system get the wrong signal from the ECM. As a result, the systems can not function properly.
If your car’s tires are unevenly inflated, the tire pressure monitoring sensor TPMS sensor light should also be lit.
Identify which tire of your car has improper pressure and inflate/deflate the tire as required. After that, driving the car for more than 10 minutes at 50 miles per hour will reset the TPMS sensor.
However, if the TPMS/Tire Pressure light still doesn’t go off, you might need to reset the TPMS module. In most cars, the TPMS button is reset in the following way.
- Turn the ignition on, but don’t start the car.
- Locate the TPMS button in your car.
- Press the button and hold it until the TPMS light blinks three times. Then release the button.
- Start your car.
- Wait for 20 minutes and the TPMS light should go away.
You can also try to disconnect the battery positive terminal and put the car key in On position. Do not start the car. Press the horn to discharge the remaining charge present in the circuit. Reconnect the battery and start the car. This will reset your TPMS sensor.
Another method of resetting the sensor is to over-inflate the tires to above 3 PSI then completely deflate the tires. Then reflating the tires to normal/recommended pressure.
The procedure can be different based on your car model. So, check the owner’s manual for the specific process.
Reason 3: Blown Fuse
The traction control system and the anti-brake system sometimes use the same control module and fuse to control the electricity supply. If for some reason, there is a short circuit and the fuse is blown, both systems will stop getting power.
As both systems stop functioning, the traction control light and the ABS light will stay on.
Open the fuse box from the hood. The fuse box cover typically has the fuse signs or numbers written on it. Still, if you can’t locate the ABS or traction control module fuse, check the manual.
If the fuse is found blown, replace it and check if the lights still stay on or not.
Reason 4: Programming Issue
Sometimes, the programming in your car can get messed up and make the TCS light and ABS light stay on. If there is any programming error in the car, the check engine light will also stay on.
To know other reasons for the traction control light and check engine light to stay on, read this article: Traction control light and check engine light on.
Resetting the traction control will solve this problem. Let’s discuss how to reset the ABS and traction control systems in different car models.
How To Reset Traction Control Light On Ford/Lincoln?
Heads Up: In Ford cars, the traction control is called “AdvanceTrac”.
- Open up the hood while keeping your car turned on.
- Remove the negative cable from the battery terminal.
- Keep your car in this position for around 5 minutes, and then reconnect the negative cable again.
- Restart the car and the traction light should be gone after flashing.
This will reset both the traction control system and ABS.
How To Reset Traction Control Light On Hyundai/Kia?
Here’s the traction control resetting procedure for Hyundai/Kia.
- Insert the key into the ignition and turn it to the “ON” position without starting the engine.
- Press the gas pedal three times quickly.
- Start the engine and run it for one minute.
- Both traction control and the ABS light should be gone.
To reset the ABS of Hyundai/Kia, follow these steps:
- Disconnect the negative cable from the battery. And then the positive one.
- Try to drain all the residue charge from the battery by turning the lights on or honking the horn.
- After around 15 minutes, reassemble the battery cables back and charge the battery. Then the ABS system should be reset.
How To Reset Traction Control Light On Honda/Acura?
- There is a 16-pin OBD2 connector under the steering column. You have to remove the panel to access that.
- Turn the ignition key “ON” by keeping the engine off. Press the gas pedal. Keep it pressed while performing the third step.
- Take a paperclip and straighten it out. Insert one end of the paper clip into the top right slot or slot no. 9 of the OBD2 connector. And the other opening of the paperclip should go into the bottom row, the fourth slot from the left or slot no. 5.
- Release the brake pedal and observe the traction control light blink repeatedly for a while and go away.
For resetting the ABS, follow the same process. Except, instead of slots 9 and 5, stick the paperclip to the 9 and 4 openings of the OBD2.
How To Reset Traction Control Light On Volkswagen/Audi?
Heads Up: The traction control system and Anti-lock Brake System are combined into a single EPC (electronic power control) system by both Audi and Volkswagen. So, following this resetting procedure will reset both the traction control system and ABS.
- Start the car in the parking position.
- Keep the car running for one minute then turn it off.
- Start the car again. This time, While the engine starts, floor and hold the gas pedal for a few seconds. Then the warning light should go away.
How To Reset Traction Control Light On Tesla?
Here is the traction control resetting process on Tesla:
- On the steering wheel, you will find two scroll wheels. Hold down both of them until the display is turned off.
- Wait for 2-3 minutes while the system restarts
- Check if the TCS light is turned off or not
- If the light is still on, explore the Controls Menu
- Select the Safety & Security option
- Tap the Power Off option
- The programming in Tesla will be rebooted and all the electrical systems will be checked. After that, the warning lights should be gone.
How To Reset Traction Control Light On General Motor cars?
Car brands under general motors, such as GMC, Chevrolet, Buick, and Cadillac do not recommend and offer any official method to reset the traction control. If you own a car of this brand, take it to a certified mechanic to reprogram the vehicle, and then the light should go away.
You can reset the ABS system for these cars in the following way.
- Put your car key in on position but do not turn on your vehicle
- Push the gas pedal 3 times
- Wait for a few seconds
- Start the engine.
Now the ABS is reset.
Reason 5: Wiring Damage
Wiring that connects the sensors to the ABS or traction control system can be damaged sometimes. As a result, the ABS and TCS systems don’t get proper data to function and show warning lights.
There can be two types of wiring damage.
- If the external wiring harness that is connected to the sensor is damaged, you can quickly identify it while inspecting the sensor. For the inspecting procedure, follow steps 1 – 4 to access the wiring. If the cables are torn or worn out, replace them.
- If the internal cable is damaged, it is very complex to repair it. So, you might not be able to do it on your own. Troubleshoot the other reasons associated with the “traction control and ABS light staying on” issue. If nothing works, take the car to a mechanic.
Reason 6: Faulty Wheel Speed Sensor
Wheel speed sensors are connected to the ABS, traction control, and the engine of your car through ECU. These sensors send signals to the traction control and ABS unit whenever there is an uneven change in the wheels’ speeds. So that the TCS can adjust the speed of the respective wheel(s) to regain traction.
If the sensors are broken, they can’t send signals to the TCS and ABS. And then the TCS and ABS keep showing the warning light.
If your ABS light and traction control light stay on together, it’s most likely that the wheel speed sensor is damaged. In Jeep cars, in this case, ESP, BAS, ABS, and traction control light will be lit together.
You have to replace the faulty wheel speed sensor. Here’s how to replace the wheel speed sensor.
- 0.5-inch drive breaker bar
- Jack stand
- Adjustable socket wrench
- New wheel speed sensor
Step 1: Prepare The Car
Use a lug nut socket and a 0.5-inch drive breaker bar to loosen the lug nuts of your car’s wheel.
Use a jack and jack stand or a lift to raise the car. And after that, remove the wheel.
Step 2: Locate The Sensor
The wheel speed sensor is typically located on the rear-end housing, steering knuckle, near the brake rotor. Check your vehicle’s service manual for the specific location of the sensor on your car’s brand and model.
Step 3: Remove The Sensor
Use an adjustable socket wrench to remove the bolts holding the sensor in place. Remove the wiring harnesses as well. Carefully pull the sensor out of its location. Be extra careful not to damage any of the wiring or connections.
Step 4: Identify The Faulty Wheel Speed Sensor
There are 4-wheel speed sensors in the car. You have to remove all of them and identify which sensor is faulty. To identify which sensor has gone bad, follow the video given below.
Step 5: Install The New Sensor
Insert the new sensor into place and secure it with the bolts. Torque the bolts to the specifications listed in the service manual.
Step 6: Connect the wiring
Connect the wiring to the new sensor and make sure it is securely in place.
Step 6: Reassemble
Once you are done with the replacement process, assemble everything back including the tire.
Reminder: This is a general guide and the specific steps may vary depending on the model of your car. Always refer to the vehicle’s service manual for specific instructions.
If you are not comfortable changing the wheel speed sensor by yourself, take the car to a nearby mechanic shop.
Cost: On average, a wheel speed sensor costs around $140 and $170 depending on the quality and car model. The labor charge for replacing it may cost around $60 to $80.
Reason 7: Faulty Switch
If the traction control off switch is faulty like jammed or broken, the light can stay on. The switch is responsible for turning the traction control on/off.
If the switch is faulty, it might be unable to turn on or off the traction control properly. As a result, the light will stay on.
Try to turn off the traction control and see if the button works or not. If the button doesn’t work, you need to replace it. Here’s how to replace the traction control switch.
- Pry Bar
- Socket wrench set
- New traction control switch
Note: Turn off all the switches in your car and disconnect the negative cable for the battery before starting the process.
Step 1: Locate The Traction Control Switch
Locate the traction control off button in your car. The button to turn off the traction control on a car usually has a sign with a car on a squiggly road, such as in Jeep, Subaru, Nissan, and BMW.
In some cars, the traction control off button can be labeled “TC” with a diagonal line through it.
So, where is the traction control button?
In most cars, you will find the button at the left of the steering wheel on a panel with some other knobs and switches. For example, Chevrolet cars. Most of the time, the traction control off button will be around the trunk release buttons.
In some cars, the switch can be on the steering or in the middle of the dashboard as well. For example, in Ram 1500 II, the button is in the middle of the dashboard.
Step 2: Remove The Trim Panel
Depending on your car, you may have to remove the different panels to remove the traction switch. For example, in some cars, you have to remove separate switchboard trim to take out the traction switch. But in some cars, you may need to remove the panel trim.
Take a pry bar and remove the suitable panel.
Step 3: Remove the switch
Use a socket wrench or pliers to remove any bolts or clips that are holding the switch in place. Carefully disconnect any electrical connectors that are attached to the switch.
Step 4: Install the New Switch
Place the new switch carefully into the proper position. Reattach the electrical connectors carefully. Use the socket wrench/pliers to replace any bolts or clips that were removed. Make sure you buy the compatible switch for your car model.
Step 5: Reassemble and check
Assemble all the components back and turn the engine on. Check if the new traction control switch works or not. Depending on the model, you may need to reset the traction control system in order to adjust the new switch.
Cost: Depending on the car mode, a traction control button may cost you around $50 to $100.
Reason 8: Defective Steering Angle Sensor
The steering angle sensor is responsible for detecting the angle of the steering wheel and sending the information to the traction control module.
If these sensors are broken, the car will oversteer or understeer than you intended it to. And you will notice the check engine light flashing and the traction control light on in your car.
You have to change the broken steering angle sensor. Here is the steering angle sensor replacement process.
- Socket set
- Adjustable wrench
- New steering angle sensor
Step 1: Disconnect the negative cable from the battery to prevent any electrical issues while working on the car.
Step 2: Pull open the dash panel. Remove the steering column by unscrewing the mounting nuts to access the sensor. How you do it all depends on the car brand and model.
Step 3: Locate the steering angle sensor, which is typically located on the steering column or near the steering rack depending on the car model. Check your car’s user manual to get the location.
Step 4: Unbolt the old steering angle sensor by using a socket. Carefully unplug the wiring harness and take the sensor out.
Step 5: Install the new sensor by bolting it into place and plugging it into the wiring harness.
Step 6: Reassemble everything back and reconnect the battery.
Once you have replaced the steering angle sensor, the traction control light should be gone.
Cost: Depending on the quality of the sensor and the labor charge in your area, you may need to spend around $150 and $500 for a steering sensor replacement.
Reason 9: Broken Yaw Rate Sensor
The yaw rate sensor is also known as the lateral acceleration sensor or a side-to-side acceleration sensor. It measures the rotation of the vehicle around its vertical axis, also known as yaw. This sensor sends this information to the car’s computer and traction system.
When this sensor is faulty, the traction control system can’t get the proper reading about the yaw rate of the car. As a result, it notifies of its dysfunctionality.
You need to replace the faulty yaw rate sensor with a new one.
Based on the car model, yaw rate sensors can be under the floorboard of the front seat. Its main focus is to assess the center of gravity of the vehicle. Check your owner’s manual to find out the location of this sensor in your car.
After that, you need to remove all the components that are covering the yaw rate sensor including the floorboard. After accessing the sensor, you can remove it by using a compatible socket wrench and install the new one instead.
The following video might help you with the whole process for BMW cars.
Cost: A yaw rate sensor may cost around $600 to $650 depending on the car’s model. And if you replace it in a mechanic shop, the labor charge can be around $90 to $120.
Reason 10: Bad Steering Rack
The steering rack is responsible for simultaneously rotation of the wheels when you rotate the steering wheel. When the steering rack is faulty, it makes the steering wheel hard to turn. Or sometimes, the wheel gets hard to turn.
The traction control system detects the steering is hard to turn. So, it notifies something is wrong in the system by flashing the warning light.
The steering rack needs to be replaced. The replacement process of the steering rack is extremely complicated. So, it’s better to have it done in a mechanic shop. Still, if you want to give it a try by yourself, the following video might help you.
Cost:The replacement cost of a power steering rack including labor charge can be from $800 to $4000, depending on the car.
Reason 11: Bad Alignment
Bad wheel alignment can cause the traction control light to come on as it can affect the car’s handling and cause uneven tire wear. This can cause the TCS to activate and regain stability.
Also, When the wheels are not properly aligned, it can cause the car to pull to one side. As a result, steering will be difficult and the traction control system will activate.
If you don’t fix the misalignment issue, the traction control light will stay on.
Fixing the wheel alignment is a sensitive issue. So, you should take the car to a mechanic. If you still want to fix the alignment by yourself, the following video might help.
Reason 12: Faulty ABS Module
An ABS module is a computerized component that controls the ABS system.
If the ABS module is damaged, it may not be able to properly interpret the input from the sensors. As a result, it can’t send correct signals to the brakes. This can cause the ABS light to stay on. When the ABS module is faulty, you may hear a humming noise from it.
The faulty ABS module needs to be replaced. The ABS module is usually found in the engine compartment, secured with bolts and screws. You have to remove the negative cable from the battery before taking out the module.
The ABS module replacement is a complex procedure that included removing the brake lines and other components. So, it is recommended to have a professional mechanic perform the replacement.
If you still give it a try by yourself, here’s a video that might help.
Cost:Replacement of an ABS module can cost you around $900 to $1000.
Reason 13: Low Brake Fluid
The brake system relies on the brake fluid to transfer the force from the brake pedal to the brake calipers. If the brake fluid level is low, there may not be enough fluid to provide the necessary pressure, which can reduce braking performance.
As a result, the ABS light will send a signal that the brake isn’t working properly. If the brake fluid is low, the brake fluid warning light will also come up.
You need to check and refill the brake fluid reservoir. Your car may require a different amount of fluid and different fluid types depending on the car model and engine. So, for accurate specifications, see the owner’s manual of your car.
Notice: Please keep in mind that the replacement and repairing processes described here are general procedures. Your car may have a different method to repair the traction control and ABS system issues.
So, it’s recommended to check your car’s service manual for more specific instructions.
Summary:If the light stays on while you are driving, it indicates certain problems including faulty wheel speed and steering sensors, a broken steering rack, etc. You should repair these problems as soon as possible. If you are not experienced with car repair, consult a mechanic.
Can You Drive With The Traction Control Light On?
Yes, technically you can drive with a traction light on. However, it’s not recommended to do so. It increases the risk of accidents associated with the loss of traction while driving on a slippery or wet surface.
If you are still not convinced, read this article on what happens when you drive with the traction control light on.
Can You Drive With The ABS Light On?
Although it’s technically possible to drive with the ABS light on, it’s not recommended at all in any situation.
When the ABS light is on, it means the anti-lock brake system is not working properly. As a result, if you brake hard, the wheels may lock up, which can cause the vehicle to skid or lose control.
Summary:You should not drive with a faulty traction control system or anti-lock brake system for your own safety.
When Should You Turn Off The Anti-lock Brake System?
You should never turn the ABS off as it is an important safety feature. When not necessary, the feature stays disengaged anyway. Moreover, In most cars, there is no function for turning off the ABS anyway.
How To Turn Off Traction Control?
To turn off the traction control, locate the specific button for turning the system off. The button can be signed differently and in a different location based on the car model. Push the button and the traction control system should be disengaged.
To know the process of locating the button in detail and other ways to turn off the traction control, read this article on how to turn off traction control.
Here’s a reminder: even if you disengage the traction control button, the TCS will be engaged again when you restart the car.
What Can Damage The ABS Sensor?
The main reason for an ABS sensor to damage is dirt and metallic dust which is accumulated over time. The ABS sensor is located in the wheel hub which is easily exposed to this dirt. Also, internal short circuits and excessive wheel bearing clearance can also damage the ABS sensor.
How To Turn On Traction Control In Your Car?
The traction control automatically turns on whenever you turn on the ignition. However, if you have kept the TCS turned off for some reason and want to re-engage it, press the same button you used to disengage it.
Is Traction Control Part Of ABS?
No, the traction control is not a part of ABS. Both systems are safety features in your car that work especially on the slippery road to ensure better control of the wheel. They also share some common sensors, like the wheel speed sensor. However, these two are different systems.
That’s everything you had to know about the Traction Control Light and ABS light On in your car. If the lights stay temporarily, you don’t need to worry. But you should immediately take action in case the warning lights stay on.
Also, no matter if your car has a control system, you should still drive carefully.
Now, it’s time for me to go. Have a great day!