To fix a traction control system, restart your car or check the switches initially. If none of these work, try resetting your traction control system. Further diagnosis includes replacing and cleaning the wheel speed sensor. Depending on your car, you may need to replace the traction control or ABS modules.
Imagine suddenly your vehicle traction control light coming and you have no idea why. Should you be worried? Is it a problem? Regardless, it can be frustrating and a bit difficult to solve. And yes, your traction control light staying on is a sign that something is wrong and requires fixing.
So how to fix a traction control system?
With that clarified, now you should know how to go through each process. Go on through this article to find that out.
Traction Control System: Problems, Reasons & Fixes
The table below shows some of the common traction control system problems that you may find and also the reasons and fixes for each.
|Warning Light Stays On
|Malfunctioning Wheel Speed Sensor, and Faulty Wiring
|1. Reprogram Traction Control System
2. Replace Sensors
3. Fix Wiring
4. Replace the ABS System Control Module
5. Clean road debris from the wheel speed sensor
|Traction Control System Won’t Turn On
|Loss of Traction Control Features
|Malfunctioning traction control module
|Replace traction control module
Most of the problems can be solved by just replacing the respective components like the switch or the wheel speed sensor.
Problem 1: Warning Light Stays On
Reason 1: Glitch in the System
It happens occasionally from a glitch in the system. You may find it, especially after you turn on your car engine.
Solution 1: Basic troubleshooting
Firstly, check if you accidentally turned off the TCS or not. Drive your car a few blocks. Is it still there? If it is, then turn off your engine. Let it rest for a while and then restart it. If the traction light still won’t go off, you should start solving the problem.
Solution 2: Reset Traction Control System
Before trying any other solution you should try resetting first. If it does not work, only then you should try different options. Now, the following are the tools you will need to reset the traction control.
- On-Board Diagnostic 2 (OBD2) Scanner
Now, let’s get into the solution. Following are the steps
Step 1: Grab the OBD2 scanner and connect it to your car’s DLC (Diagnostic Link Connector) port. Please go through the user manual of your car to find this port.
Step 2: Turn the ignition in the “ON” position (not necessary to start the engine) and turn on the scanner.
Step 3: Next, input your car’s model. Although, you can use the Auto Scan option to automatically find your car model.
Step 4: Once your car model is selected go to “systems” and then “control unit”. You will find different vehicle systems.
Step 5: Now, select your vehicle system and find out your TCS/ABS system.
Step 6: Finally, select the ‘erase codes’ option. That will clear your warning light and reset the TCS system.
However, if it doesn’t work, it could be any other reason related to the sensor or wiring.
Reason 2: Wiring Issue
A bad wiring can be the reason for continued traction control light and loss of power. If the wiring connection next to the sensor is damaged then it will not get traction information properly.
Solution: Fix wiring
Look for the wiring issues. If you find any damaged wire then just replace it.
Tip:Always make sure to go through the wiring issues before you decide to spend money on anything else.
Reason 3: Faulty Wheel Speed Sensor
The wheel speed sensor’s performance influences the TCS. If the sensor malfunctions, it will not send the data properly to the system. Without proper data, the TCS light will stay on because there is no proper information about traction. Road debris or any dirt stuck in your sensor can make the sensor deliver wrong reading.
Solution: Clean or Replace the Wheel Speed Sensor
So, the solution is to replace the faulty wheel speed sensor. Here is how you should do this
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- ½ inch drive Breaker Bar
Step 1: Use a scanner to find out which wheel sensor is not working properly
Step 2: Jack up the car using the floor jack, and keep it in this position by using a jack stand.
Step 3: Grab the ½ inch drive breaker and attach a compatible socket to loosen the lug nuts of the wheel with the faulty sensor.
Step 4: After you get a clearer view of the sensors, just remove it using pliers.
Step 5: Bring the old sensor out and clean where it was located by blowing air or cloth. DO NOT RINSE IT WITH WATER.
Step 6: Now connect the new sensor and attach the wiring properly following the methods you removed the old one.
Step 7: Put the wheels back on and tighten all the nuts using a socket and ratchet.
Step 8: Remove the jack stand and lower your vehicle using the floor jack.
Step 9: Torque your wheels properly and then take it for a drive. Check if the light is still on or not..
Reason 4: Malfunctioning ABS System Control Module
Malfunctioning wheel speed sensors will disrupt your ABS system as well. But if the ABS control module itself is damaged then it fails to provide the required braking to stop the wheel spinning. This is when the light stays on
Solution: Replace the ABS System Control Module
Now how do you know if your ABS system is also damaged? Typically, your ABS light also remains turned on with the Traction control light.
Following are the methods to replace the ABS control module
Step 1: Firstly, disconnect the battery terminal. Start with the negative terminal first and then the positive terminal.
Step 2: Now, you need to locate the ABS module. Go through your user manual. It must show where your ABS module is located.
Step 3: Before you get to remove it, remember it might be connected to the solenoid. Whether it needs to be taken off together or separately depends on the car model. Check your user manual for that.
Step 4: Loosen the bolts connected to the module. Slowly remove the module. You have to remove it with the solenoid block if both are connected together..
Step 5: Use the new ABS module. Connect it with the solenoid block.
Step 6: Tighten the bolts of your ABS module and then connect back to the battery terminal. Start with the positive terminal first and then the negative terminal
Step 7: Start your engine and check again.
Even though we discussed the steps, it is recommended you consult a professional for this. Any problem or overlooked step can lead to major problems related to the braking system.
Problem 2: Traction Control System Won’t Turn On
Sometimes you need to turn off your traction control system. But what if you can’t turn it back on?
Reason: Damaged Switch
It typically happens whenever your traction on switches are damaged. It is just a switch issue and you can fix it by just replacing the switch.
- Check Engine Light Coming On suddenly
- TCS OFF light will be on.
Here is the solution for the problem-
Solution: Replace Switch
The solution here is to just replace the switch.
Following is the method of replacing the switch from the traction control system
- Pry Tool
- 13mm socket
- 11mm socket
Step 1: Disconnect the battery terminal first. Starting with the negative terminal.
Step 2: Find your traction control switch. It is usually on the dash panel. But you might also find it on your center console. Go through your user manual for that.
Step 3: Next you have to remove the trim panel near to the switch. This is to ensure that you can remove the switch easily.
Step 4: Now you will find the switch with its connectors. Carefully remove the connectors.
Step 5: So with the old one removed, grab the new switch and mount it properly. Plug it in with the connectors.
Step 6: Attach the trim panels back on.
Step 7: Finally, turn on your engine and check if the traction control switch is working properly.
Problem 3: Loss of Traction Control Features
If the traction control module itself is damaged then it won’t be able to put proper grip to your tires.
Reason: Damaged Traction Control Module
It could be due to your module getting damaged from prolonged use. Either way whenever that happens it fails to provide your wheels with the required traction despite correct data from the sensors.
Following are some of the symptoms of damaged traction control module
- Reduction in traction power
- Traction Control System won’t turn on or off properly
- Difficulty in braking or problem in the ABS system
Solution: Replacing Traction Control Module.
Step 1: Disconnect the battery terminal starting with the negative one.
Step 2: Go through your user manual to find out the traction control module location. It could be under the hood or around the trunk area.
Step 3: Now disconnect all the connectors of this module.
Step 4: Remove the Traction Control Module carefully and put a new one in its place.
Step 5: Finally, reconnect all the wiring and connectors to this module.
Step 6: Restore the battery connection.
Note: This is the least likely reason among the ones discussed here.
Cost to Fix a Traction Control System
In the following table you can see the estimated cost to fix the traction control system.
|Total Replacement Cost
|Wheel Speed Sensor Replacement
|$146 – $176
|$62 – $78
|$206 – $255
|Replacing ABS System Control Module
|$240 – $940
|$95 – $125
|$335 – $1065
|Traction Control Switch Replacement
|$43 – $55
|$38 – $70
|$81 – $125
|Reprogramming Traction Control Module
From the table, the ABS system control module costs the most to replace.
Is It OK to Drive With the Traction Control Light On?
It’s ok to drive if the traction control light is flashing. For example, on slippery or bumpy roads. This indicates that the traction control is doing its job of providing the right grip to the tires.
But if it stays consistently on while you are driving on any road, it indicates a problem. Hence, you need to fix it as soon as possible.
Whether you can drive with the traction control light on or not depends on the road conditions and you need to take this problem seriously. Any negligence from the driver can result in more dire issues related to the braking and traction system.
Will A Damaged Traction Control System Affect ABS As Well?
Yes, a damaged traction control will affect the ABS. When you are driving despite the TCS light staying on, you are putting the ABS at risk as well. This is because the two systems share the same control module. However whenever your ABS system is damaged, the ABS light will also turn on.
Can I Drive Without a Traction Control System?
Yes, you can drive without a traction control system but you shouldn’t. TCS helps you by providing traction to your wheels especially on slippery roads.Only turn it off when you are stuck in mud or snow. So, if your traction system is not working, you have to get it fixed as soon as possible.
What is the Difference Between TCS and ESC?
TCS only limits wheel spinning and ensures proper grip whenever you are driving through a slippery surface. ESC maintains your car’s maneuverability by preventing lateral skidding. So, in short ESC deals more with your car’s steering system whereas TCS deals with your car’s traction system.
So, this is how to fix a traction control system. Make sure to check whether the problem is related to the Anti-lock Braking System or not. Do not drive with a faulty traction control system especially if you face slippery roads constantly. With that said, hopefully, you can find a solution to all the traction-related problems.