Traction Control Warning Light (TC or TCS Light)

1. Temporary Loss of Traction

Some TCS lights come on when there is rainy or snowy weather and then disappear. When this happens, it means the system is activated due to low-traction road conditions (ice, snow, or rain) and is assisting the vehicle with maintaining traction. It may even flash briefly if you momentarily pass over a slick spot on the road. TCS intervention can be so subtle you might barely notice it. It is a good idea to read the owner’s manual that came with your car to ensure you know how your TCS works and to know what to expect in these conditions.

Is it safe in this situation? Yes. The most important thing to remember here is that the TCS light coming on, and often flickering on and off while it’s activated, means the system is functioning properly. You should still drive with caution on wet or slippery roads, but seeing the light in these circumstances indicates your traction control system is working.

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Can I Ignore These Warning Lights?

You should never disregard the warning if one or both the ABS and TCS lights come on. It is especially unsafe to drive if both indicators are lit, along with the red brake warning light, as this signifies a serious problem with your braking system. For either scenario, find a safe place to pull over if you are on the road, then do a quick vehicle restart to see if the lights will reset. This step should help you rule out if it is only a fluke that triggered the warning lights. However, if it comes back on, do not continue driving but call a mechanic and get a system diagnosis instead. If the need to continue driving is urgent, make sure that you do so gently while avoiding hard braking or acceleration, as these could trigger wheel slippage.

Is it Safe to Drive with the TCS Light On?

It is only safe to drive with the TCS light on if it appears when you are losing traction: it means the system is engaging. Driving without traction control can make your vehicle susceptible to spinning out and sliding around on the road. It is best to keep your TCS in working condition and enabled in case hazardous weather pops up. This allows you to maintain control of your vehicle at all times.

Driving with your TCS Light on can be dangerous. You increase the potential of losing control of your vehicle. The TCS helps control the stability and traction of your vehicle, so without it, the vehicle may not handle slick roadways as it should. If your TCS Light remains on, your safest course of action is to have a certified mechanic perform a system inspection and TCS module replacement if necessary.

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Welcome to Off-Roading Pro. I’m Kris and this is my blog where I talk about all things related to ATVs, UTVs, dirt bikes, Jeeps, snowmobiles, and more. I love to explore earth’s natural terrain and share my experience. Let’s ride!

Common Reasons The Traction Control Light Might Illuminate

Reason #1 – Faulty Wheel Speed Sensors

Reason #1 – Faulty Wheel Speed Sensors

If you have read through our explanation of how the traction control system works. Then you should know why a faulty wheel speed sensor can cause it to malfunction.

Since they’re in charge of alerting the system when a loss of traction has occurred, if one is not working correctly, it’s likely to cause the TCS light to appear.

Options For Replacing A Wheel Speed Sensor

Your choices include having a professional determine which sensor is out and having them replace it for around $135-$250. Or, you can swap it out yourself for a little over $100.

If you do decide to replace it yourself, you can usually figure out which wheel it is by using an OBD2 scanner. You shouldn’t need anything fancy, so a $20-$100 unit should suffice. You can also take your vehicle to a local parts supply store, and they will likely read the code free of charge.

For instructions on how to replace a wheel speed sensor, watch the video below.

Reason #2 – ABS System Malfunctioning

Many times, the ABS and TCS systems share a lot of the same working parts. For this reason, if there’s an issue with your ABS, it may cause the traction control light to appear. In this case, you will likely not only see a TCS light but an ABS light as well.

Options For Replacing An ABS Control Module

Most likely, this issue stems from either a faulty wheel speed sensor or a bad ABS control module. Again, using an OBD2 scanner, you can determine which is acting up.

If it is the control module, you can either take it to a mechanic for a cost of around $1,000 or replace it yourself for about $800. 

Check out the video below for instructions on how to swap out an ABS control module, though, you should know it’s for a 2005 Chevrolet Blazer.

Reason #3 – TCS Needs Reprogrammed

If your traction control light keeps coming on when it’s not supposed to, it might just need to be reprogrammed. There’s no specific reason this occurs, chalk it up to chance.

Options For Reprogramming A Traction Control System

There aren’t many options for reprogramming a TCS system yourself. Sadly, if this is the issue, you’ll have to take it to a certified mechanic.

Thankfully, the job itself should take no longer than an hour. You can expect to pay a diagnostic fee of about $100, and an additional $50-$100 for labor.

TCS Light Causes

The most common cause of a TSC light is that the s

The most common cause of a TSC light is that the system is turned off or a faulty wheel speed sensor. But while those are the most common problems, they aren’t the only things that could lead to a TSC light.

Below we’ve highlighted the four most common reasons your vehicle’s TSC light might be on.

1. TSC System Turned Off

Did you know that you can turn off your vehicle’s traction control? While the specific steps to do it for each vehicle are slightly different, almost every vehicle allows you to do this. While it usually only helps you when you’re trying to drift, it’s one of the most common reasons this light stays on.

Look up how to turn your vehicle’s traction control on and off. Give it a shot. If the light goes away, that was your problem, but if it doesn’t, keep reading.

2. Faulty Wheel Speed Sensors

By far the most common reason that a vehicle’s traction control system starts acting up is because of a faulty wheel speed sensor. Each of your vehicle’s wheels has a sensor that reports how fast it’s spinning to the ECM.

When one or more of those reading don’t match what the rest of the wheel speed sensors are reporting, then your traction kicks onto to remedy the situation. But if the wheel speed sensor is offline or reporting faulty readings, then your traction control is going to start acting up.

3. Faulty Steering Angle Sensor

Another critical component in your traction control system is the steering angle sensor. That’s because as your vehicle turns, the outside wheels are going to turn faster than the inside wheels. This is completely normal, and it’s your steering angle sensor that lets your ECM know what’s going on.

But if the steering angle sensor reports that you’re still going straight while you’re actually turning, the traction control system will register a fault, and it could kick on while you’re turning.

4. Faulty Wiring/Electrical Issues

While wiring and electrical issues are less likely than a faulty sensor, it is still a distinct possibility. That’s because even if all the sensors are working correctly, it won’t matter if the wires that transmit that signal are corroded or broken.

The most common location for faulty wiring is right by the wheel speed sensor since those wires are often exposed to the elements. Always rule out faulty wiring or deeper electrical issues before dropping a ton of money on new sensors.

How to Fix a Faulty Traction-Control Light

If your TCL comes on during good weather, there’s no need to panic. Find a safe place to pull over and restart your vehicle. If an anomaly triggered the light, it should turn off once you have restarted your car.

If the light stays on after you’ve restarted your vehicle, it’s time to take it to a trusted mechanic who will be able to read the vehicle’s computer and identify any issues that need to be addressed. As you’re driving to your mechanic, remain cautious and avoid any hard acceleration that could result in your tires skidding. 

If the TCL is accompanied by your anti-lock braking system light and the red brake-warning light, your entire braking system has been affected and your car is no longer safe to drive. Have your vehicle towed to the repair shop instead of driving it there yourself.

Is it dangerous if your TCS light is on and you keep driving?

The TCS light is coming on means that your traction system needs your attention, and the traction system is one of the most critical systems of the car.

TCS light being on indicated that your traction system is going to be completely shut off, so your car has the chances to be harmed in many ways.

The spinning motion of your wheels will be hindered, they will start moving freely on the slippery surfaces, and the risks of accidents will be increased.

Not only that, but the surface of tires and the performance of the engine will be damaged as well.

If both of the lights are on, the traction control as well as the ABS, you will have to get them checked immediately.

If you don’t do that, you will not be able to apply brakes quickly in case of emergencies, this risking accidents and injuries.

How useful is the TCS light

According to tests, the traction control system is actually effective when dealing with the idea of reducing the slip of wheels, when low friction surfaces are involved.

However, the traction control system can be seen to work more effectively in the four-wheel drives than the front wheel ones.

According to the same study, the engines that make use of cutting the power to make the wheels more stable than the brake systems of the car.

The effectiveness of this system in reducing the risks of accidents and injuries has not been studied too well so far.

However, when we combine this system with Electronic stability control and the ABS, then the risk of any car accidents is reduced by 50%.

Are there any limitations of traction control?

Just like any other safety feature, the traction control system has its limitations. If full benefits are to be availed, then a driver must know how to interact with the system.

The drivers must know that driving under safe conditions is critical; if going outside is not very important, then it should be avoided in harsh weather circumstances.

limitations of traction control
limitations of traction control

Aggressive driving should also be reduced, like tailgating and speeding. All these habits work against the benefits that the traction control system is trying to bring.

One cannot totally rely on the traction control system to avoid any crash. That is because the traction control is not responsible for reducing the stopping time.

The vehicles that do not have traction control, their speeds are reduced as soon as they start driving on slippery roads.

But this is not the case with the cars that have traction control. They can increase their speeds, and thus ending up speeding more than the limits that are safe for them.

So it is important to watch the way you drive, because the safety features that are there in the car, you cannot rely completely on them.

Disadvantages of TCS

This system is mostly beneficial for any vehicle you are driving, but sometimes it becomes harmful to use as well. Here is how.

If you have your car placed in a standstill position in sand or snow, and you drive it, the engine will end up deducting too much power for the traction control system.

The wheels will start slipping and to stop them; the engine will expend energy. Movement on such roads thus becomes a mess.

In many models, however, there is an option that allows you to switch this system off when such circumstances arise.

In some of the cars, the complete deactivation of the system isn’t possible. However, they do have a setting for icy or snowy conditions for increasing the wheel spin.

You can adjust the system according to the vehicle that you own, and the conditions that you are driving under.

Driving with the TCS light on

Since traction control is highly critical for driving, if the TCS light turns on it should not be ignored. Failure in the TCS can hamper your wheels from properly spinning and cause you to lose control over the vehicle on slippery roads, which harms your tires’ surface, engine performance and raises the risk of accidents. Issues related to the TCS or ABS can lead to the failure of brakes. So if the TCS and ABS lights come on, you should immediately have your mechanic inspect them.

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