Why Does the Check VSC System Light Come On?

The vehicle stability control (VSC) system helps with the traction of a vehicle in harsh climatic conditions. It works with the anti-lock braking system (ABS) to prevent the car from sliding by applying brakes on all wheels to stop the car from skidding further. The check VSC system light comes on when there is a problem with the VSC or ABS.

How Does the VSC System Work?

The VSC light is directly related to the VSC system. This VSC monitors and controls a vehicle’s steering stability. It steps right in when a car starts losing traction. It automatically applies the brakes on the wheels and reduces the engine power so the car becomes stable and the driver gets better control of the car. During this process, the VSC system works with the ABS to maintain the vehicle’s stability.

What’s the mechanism behind this action? Each of the wheels has an electrical sensor that communicates with the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) regarding the conditions of the stability and steering performance in bad weather. The performance factors include the wheel’s rotation speed and the vehicle’s horizontal and vertical motion.

The sensors get the information when there is an issue with traction. They then relay the information to the computer or electronic control units (ECUs). The ECUs analyze the information to determine the action needed to control the car’s traction with the VSC and ABS.

VSC system
The system helps the car to regain its control on slippery surfaces. (Photo Source: toyota)

Any issue with the traction and steering stability of the vehicle will trigger the check VSC system light. The VSC system helps a driver to control the vehicle during emergency cornering, skidding, and understeering. A great number of road accidents happen because the drivers lose control of the car in treacherous conditions such as rain, snow, fog, and on slippery, muddy roads. This system reduces the risk of these accidents to a great extent.


What Triggers the Check VSC System Light?

The VSC warning light on your dashboard indicates several issues related to traction. It could be a faulty steering angle sensor, malfunctioning wheel speed sensors, or a defective rotation speed sensor. A bad steering rack could also be the culprit. So, it’s important to check the VSC and ABS components when the check VSC system light comes on.

In some cases, the light comes on because it needs reprogramming. This is a simple problem that you can solve without breaking a sweat.

When you are driving in severe weather such as a blizzard, the snow can prompt the light since the ABS sensors misinterpret the snowy surface as a traction-losing condition. This can also trigger a ‘C1201’ engine error code.

Undoing the error code is not a complicated task. Go to a safe place or in your garage and wait for the snow to melt. The light is likely to turn off automatically after the thawing. But if it does not work, use an OBD2 scanner to fix the error code. Take the car to a repair shop if you don’t know how to use the scanner.

There is another process too. Turn the ignition switch to ACC (for accessories) and press the odometer until it shows mileage. Switch the engine off and then switch on again using the odometer button. This will make the check VSC system light go away.

If the light stays on or returns after a while, the car may have bad sensors or steering rack mentioned above. You should consult a mechanic for this problem and replace the sensors or components, as required.

Other Helpful Systems for Traction Control

There are a couple of other systems that work alongside VSC and ABS to maintain proper traction when low friction occurs.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) System

Toyota introduced this system in the 90s, which assesses the resistance between the wheels and the road. It works automatically and steps in whenever the vehicle’s control needs to be regained.

This technology provides impressive performance on a variety of slippery grounds. You can rely on it when driving on slippery roads and frozen water bodies.

Check VSC System
The way ESC technology works. (Photo Source: mycardoeswhat)

Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR) System

Another accident-reducing technology used with the VSC system is ASR. It works in collaboration with the electronic accelerator and ABS system. It sends signals to the ECUs when any tire loses traction during driving the car. The computer takes action by reducing power to the wheels so they cannot skid further.

Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) System

DSC is another system that does a wonderful job of keeping a car stable on the road. It is automatically activated depending on the friction between the tires and the ground. This system works by enhancing the traction of some wheels and letting others slip.