Traction control light: meaning, causes, and how to reset

A dashboard warning light that indicates traction control is disabled and, in some cases, ABS is also disabled will typically illuminate when there is a problem with the system. Your TCS light performs a number of tasks. It first informs you when the system is running. Your traction control is engaged if the light flashes on and off while you are driving.

Traction control light

Everything is working as it should if your wheels are slipping and the light is on. In addition, when you first turn the key in the ignition, the light ought to come on and then go off. As long as the light goes out, there’s no any underlying issue, and this is just a system check.

When the TSC light remains on after the system check, that’s when you should be concerned. If it continues to illuminate, either you have turned off the traction control system in your car or it isn’t operating properly. Well, in this article, we will give well-detailed information on the meaning, safety, causes, and how to reset the traction control light.

Read more: Understanding TC meaning on a car

Ok, let’s get down to business.


What does the traction control light mean?

In the case that one or more of your wheels lose traction while you are driving, the traction control system aids in keeping you in control of your car. The traction control light often signals that the traction control system of the vehicle is in use, which means that your vehicle temporarily lost traction while navigating a sharp curve, traveling on wet roads, or anything related.

However, when the traction control light comes on, it may also indicate that the system has been turned off or that there’s an issue with the traction control system. You must exercise caution when driving when the traction control light is on.

This happens most frequently when the roads are icy, snowy, or have other adverse conditions. Your driving habits also have an impact on how frequently you’ll use your traction control system. The more recklessly you drive, the more traction control will be required to assist you.

Read more: Everything you need to know about a car ABS light  

Is it safe to drive with the traction control warning light on?

While driving with the traction control light on is typically safe, there are certain conditions where it is not. When the TCS light illuminates, which indicates that the system is functioning, only then is it safe to continue driving. Your car may spin out and slide around on the road if you’re driving without traction control. It is advised that you keep your TCS active and functional in case adverse weather approaches. By doing this, you can always keep control of your car.

Traction control light

Driving while your TCS light is illuminated can be risky. The risk of losing control of your car increases. Without the TCS, your car might not handle slick roads as well as it should. The TCS aids in controlling your car’s stability and traction. Therefore, the safest course of action if your TCS light stays on is to have a qualified mechanic check the system and, if necessary, replace the TCS module.

Read more: Is it safe to drive a car with the SRS airbag light on?

What causes the traction control light to come on?

Here are the most common reasons why your traction control light comes on:

  • The TSC system is turned off
  • Wheel speed sensors malfunction
  • Faulty steering angle sensor
  • Wiring damage
  • ABS malfunction

The TSC system is turned off

It’s possible that you might have inadvertently turned off the traction control system, which may be the reason why the light comes on. Look for the TCS switch or button, then switch it on or turn it on. However, if the traction control light remains on, there may be a faulty or broken traction control component.

Wheel speed sensors malfunction

A malfunctioning wheel speed sensor is by far the most prevalent cause of traction control issues in cars. Every wheel on your car contains a sensor that communicates to the ECM how fast it is spinning. Your traction system engages to correct the situation if one or more of those readings differ from what the other wheel speed sensors are providing. However, if the wheel speed sensor is malfunctioning or producing inaccurate readings, your traction control will start performing strangely, which will cause the light to come on.

Faulty steering angle sensor

The steering angle sensor is another crucial part of your traction control system. This is due to the fact that, as your car turns, the outside wheels will spin more quickly than the inside wheels. Your steering angle sensor informs your ECM of what is happening, and this is very normal. However, the traction control system will detect a fault, and it may activate while you are turning if the steering angle sensor indicates that you are still traveling straight when you are actually turning.

Wiring damage

The main computer in your car is connected to the speed sensors on each wheel by wires. Your vehicle will believe the wheels aren’t spinning at the same speed if these wires are corroded or damaged, which will result in the traction control going on. Your issue will be resolved by having these wires replaced.

ABS malfunction

Another possible cause of the traction control light illumination may be an ABS malfunction. The controller, pumps, valves, and speed sensors make up the anti-lock braking system. When a wheel is going to lock up, the speed sensors alert the ABS control module, and the controller controls the valves to produce the most braking power.

Some manufacturers now combine the operation of the traction control and ABS systems and classify their faults as the same malfunction. In that situation, your dashboard can display an illuminated TCS light.

Read more: What does the ESP light mean? (Causes and how to fix it)

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How to reset the traction control light

Here’s how to reset the traction control light:

  • Get an OBD-II scanner (purchase or rent).
  • Locate the diagnostic link connector (DLC) and plug it.
  • Erase or reset the TC light with the scanner.

Get an OBD-II scanner (purchase or rent)

Even if it’s just for minor repairs, an OBD2 scanner is a worthwhile purchase if you work on your vehicle. One can be bought online or at an auto repair shop near you. A less expensive device can be bought for $30 to $50, but a good OBD2 scanner will set you back several hundred dollars. If your car was made before 1996, you’ll need an original OBD device, not an OBD2. The OBD2 will, however, work with any car made after 1996. You might also consider renting one from an auto supply store as an alternative.

Locate the diagnostic link connector (DLC) and plug it

Consult your car’s owner’s manual to find the OBD2 device connection port. The majority of the time, it is on the left side, under the steering wheel. You might need to remove a panel from your dashboard to reach it, even though most vehicles only have a cover on it. Connect the OBD2 directly to the DLC port.

Erase or reset the traction control light with the scanner

On the OBD2 device. Put in the necessary details. The next step is to select “systems” or “control unit” to get a list of the various vehicle systems. To turn off the warning light and restart your TCS system, find the TCS or ABS system, then select “erase codes” or “reset codes.” Depending on your OBD2 device, you might need to utilize the model-specific key to read the codes. However, you can use the “auto scan” function to have your car automatically scanned to detect any issues.

Read more: Everything you need to know about ESP BAS light


What causes the traction control light to come on?

When traction is lost, such as during snowy or rainy conditions, many traction control systems may turn on the warning light. Usually, the light appears when the system steps in to keep traction.

What causes traction control to malfunction?

Traction control and ABS most commonly develop problems with the wheel speed sensors. These sensors are slightly sensitive because of their mild exposure to the weather. Dirt or other buildups may prevent the magnetic performance of the traction control sensors or anti-lock braking sensors.

Is it OK to drive with the traction control light on?

While driving with the traction control light on is usually safe, there are several situations where it is not. Your entire braking system could be impacted if the traction control, anti-lock braking system, and red brake warning lights are illuminated.

Does traction control affect the engine?

Traction control, in short, helps the driver keep the vehicle under control when the road is slick. At the most basic level, it reduces the engine’s power output to prevent a skid when it notices that one of the driven wheels is slipping.

Does traction control affect acceleration?

Anti-lock brakes and stability control help the car stop, while traction control helps it accelerate.

How do I fix my traction control light?

Quickly depress the gas pedal three times. Next, fully engage your engine and let it run for a minute. If there is no underlying issue with your traction control system, the TCS and ABS lights should reset and disappear.

Does traction control slow down the car?

The car is slowed down until it has enough traction by the traction control system engaging the brakes. The system in some cars transfers engine power to the wheels that are losing traction.

Does traction control use more fuel?

The computer will turn on the traction control system if one or more of the wheels receiving power begin to spin. In all other cases, the system is inert and has no impact on gas mileage. Even when traction control is activated, which happens rarely, gas mileage is unaffected.

Why does my traction control light stay on and my car won’t accelerate?

When the warning indicator light on the dashboard illuminates, there may be a number of problems present, including faulty steering angle sensors, faulty rotational speed sensors, and faulty wheel speed sensors, as well as a steering rack issue.

Where is the traction control sensor located?

It may be found underneath the hood of some cars or be a component of the ABS control module. The traction control module could be found inside or in the trunk of other automobiles.

That concludes this article, where we discussed the meaning, safety, causes, and how to reset the traction control light. We also looked at the frequently asked questions about the traction control light.

I hope you learn a lot from the reading. If you do, kindly share it with others. Thanks for reading; see you around!