Causes of a Traction Control Light Coming On

The traction control system helps keep a vehicle stable and in control when at risk of skidding or slipping. Most of the time, a traction control system works in conjuncture with the stability control system that helps maintain the steering capabilities of a car. 

Your traction control light (TCS) can become illuminated when the system’s sensors are not working correctly on one or more wheels. However, there can be multiple other reasons behind an illuminated TCS light which are explained in this article. Let’s review these seven reasons.

Faulty Wheel Speed Sensors

It is important to note that an illuminated TCS light means there is a problem in the TCS, and it is not working correctly. Every wheel has a speed sensor that continually monitors the wheel’s activity. When one of these sensors is not working correctly, the traction control system will be alerted. 

Bad Steering Angle Sensor

Just like the wheel sensors, your car also has steering angle sensors that monitor your steering direction. It ensures that the driver remains in control of their steering direction at all times and does not run into an accident. 

When this sensor is not working correctly, it compromises the steering responsiveness. Your traction control system and stability control system will detect this and illuminate the TCS light to warn the driver.

Bad Road Conditions

Road surfaces can play an essential part in how well your traction control system performs in a situation. Snowy, wet, or otherwise slippery roads can challenge the traction control system in maintaining enough control and friction. A challenging surface like this can alert the TCS and cause the TCS light to be turned on immediately. 

The only fix in such a case will be to get the car out of that road surface with extra care, as your TCS will not be assisting you. 

Faulty Steering Rack

The steering rack on your car is responsible for providing the right amount of steering responsiveness. It is connected with your steering wheel and causes the wheels to turn as intended. 

Not having it function properly can be detected as a danger by the traction control system. This is what causes your TCS light to come on, which can only be fixed with a professional’s assistance. 

Programming Issues

Sometimes the issue is not mechanical but a simple error in the TCS programming. While the TCS is a perfectly reliable and low-maintenance system, it can become faulty over time. Your TCS may not detect the wheel and steering activity properly, causing it to become illuminated on the dashboard. 

It's best to have it reprogrammed by the dealership or a certified mechanic for your particular car build and make. 

Limp Mode

Limp mode helps the driver keep the powertrain safe as the car is limped to the nearest mechanic. It is there to ensure that a driver does not get stranded on a remote road and can keep their vehicle moving. 

When the limp mode is on, it illuminates all the lights on the dashboard rather than any one particular light. This can cause your TCS light to turn on as well, even when there is no issue with the TCS itself.

Manual Override

Some modern cars come with the option to disable the TCS when needed. This can be a helpful feature when moving a car through snow or mud. Sports cars often have the option to have an unrestricted view when driving. 

However, your TCS light can come on when you restart your vehicle even though you had it disabled. In such a case, it is best to consult your owner’s manual to have it disabled the right way in such a case.