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Common Causes Of Traction Control Light Coming On

The traction control system’s (TCS) function is to provide driving assistance during unfavorable conditions such as slippery surfaces, rainy days, and rugged roads. Traction control light coming on is a safety concern because it indicates a problem with the system.

What Does The Traction Control System Do?

In modern vehicles, the TCS keeps track of stability and steering performance. It kicks in when the car is about to lose its traction on the ground. The TCS light will only turn on when there is an issue with the system that affects its function.

When your vehicle does not get stable traction on the road, the TCS light is likely to illuminate on the dashboard. It could be a flashing TC symbol or an illustration showing a car losing control. There is a possibility of the traction control light staying on until the problem gets fixed.

The Common Reasons For Traction Control Light Coming On

In most cases, the TC light comes on when you are speeding up. Amateur drivers may panic in this situation, but keeping a cool head will help you avoid any accident.

traction control system
Keep calm if the car loses traction while driving


Just be careful and focus on stabilizing the steering wheel as much as possible. The safety action to take is to slow down the car and take it to a servicing shop to fix the problem.

Here are some of the most common reasons that turn on the traction control light:

1. Malfunctioning Wheel Speed Sensor

The wheel speed sensors work with the TCS and the engine control unit, so there is a balance between the wheel speed and traction. The sensors monitor the rotation speed of the wheels and send signals to the TCS if anything is in disorder.

Each wheel has a sensor that alerts the TCS of any change so that it can fix that error. The car will lose traction when the sensors cannot send the right signals to the system. The light will turn on when something like this happens.

2. Defect With The Steering Angle Sensor

The steering angle sensor is a crucial system for measuring the steering wheel’s position and the rate at which it returns. You will find the sensor inside the steering column. That placement helps with the accurate measurement of the position and angle of the steering.

When the sensor is defective, it cannot compute and process information correctly. For this reason, the TC light may come on.

3. Poor Road Conditions And Bad Weather

Sometimes, bad weather and adverse road conditions are also responsible for turning on the traction control light. The TCS may not handle the traction efficiently when there is heavy rain, storm, snow, ice, or the road is muddy or rugged with potholes. In these situations, the light may come on indicating a problem with the system.

traction control light
Bad weather can trigger the TCS light

There is nothing to be done in these conditions except for slowing down the car or parking somewhere, waiting for the weather to improve. The light will automatically be turned off when the road or weather condition changes.

4. Computer Issues With The TCS System

There is a central computer system in modern vehicles that monitors and controls plenty of internal systems. The traction control system is one of them. If you find no apparent external cause that can affect the TCS, then the computer system itself could be the reason.

A malfunctioning computer system can significantly affect the performance of a vehicle because it communicates with almost all other vehicle parts. The problem could be a small one, and the system may need just the reprogramming. But you need to take the car to a certified professional for the proper diagnosis and fixing of the problem.

5. Faulty Anti-lock Braking System

A problem with the anti-lock braking system (ABS) can cause the light to come on only when the TCS shares the same control module and diagnostics system with it. As they are interconnected, an issue with the ABS will make the TCS light to be turned on.

traction control light staying on
A faulty ABS could be another reason

When you take the vehicle to a mechanic for fixing the TCS light issue, they should check the ABS too. This system is an integral part of automobile safety so any problem in it should be fixed immediately. The ABS locks the wheels when you push the braking pedal and it also stops the wheels from skidding.

The Bottom Line

The traction control light will automatically be turned off if this happens due to an external cause like bad weather or adverse road conditions. Otherwise, you need to take it to a servicing shop to dig up the main problem. A problem with the TCS will not affect any other car components or the engine. But it is likely to create safety hazards and make it risky when you drive in bad weather or poor road conditions.