The purpose of traction control systems such as StabiliTrak is to prevent vehicles from losing traction. Regardless of the road conditions, they stop the wheels from slipping, spinning, or skidding. Service StabiliTrak works in different ways, including reducing power to the wheels or braking spinning wheels. A typical vehicle has various sensors that detect variations in the wheel speed, thus knowing which wheel to control.
StabiliTrak does not interfere with your vehicle’s performance. An active security system prevents your wheels from skidding when you make a daring maneuver or accelerate the car. It is effective even on highly slippery roads. However, there are instances when you may have to turn off the StabiliTrak system. A good example is when your vehicle gets stuck in snow or mud. You need to know how to reset the service StabiliTrak light. Keep reading this article to learn about that and more.
What is StabiliTrak?
StabiliTrak is the registered name of the patented electronic stability control (ESC) by General Motors. GM designed StabiliTrak to stop a vehicle’s wheels and stop it from slipping, skidding, or spinning. When making a dangerous maneuver, the system takes grip of the vehicle’s wheels and adjusts its trajectory.
For example, StabiliTrak detects the problem and restrains the engine when driving down a steep hill. It then reduces the power on wheels and makes the vehicle move slower. StabiliTrak is available in two main types, including the following:
1) Service StabiliTrak Chevy
Service StabiliTrak Chevy by Chevrolet is a dynamic technology that activates when it senses differences in wheel steering reaction and location. Its purpose is to respond to understeer or oversteer conditions and improve your safety if you are driving on slippery surfaces for the first time. It also detects when you need assistance and applies brakes or adjusts wheel power for a smoother ride.
2) Service StabiliTrak GM
If you aren’t using the Service StabiliTrak Chevy, your vehicle must have GM’s StabiliTrak system. By applying the brakes, it prevents your car from slipping and changes its trajectory. It also detects when you have entirely lost control of the vehicle using engine RPM and steering angle data.
What’s the Meaning of Service StabiliTrak?
If you are wondering about Service StabiliTrak meaning, it simply indicates errors in the StabiliStrak system. Every standard safety-rated vehicle has this traction control system (TCS). The Service StabiliTrak warning may come from a malfunctioning input sensor, a miswired sensor, and a malfunctioning controller.
How to Turn Off StabiliTrak in Different Vehicles?
Turning off your vehicle’s traction system may disable some safety features, which means you have to turn them back on when you need to enjoy them. The process of turning off StabiliTrak varies from one manufacturer to another. Most vehicles have a StabiliTrak On/Off button with a car picture and wavy parallel lines underneath. Here is how to turn off your traction control on your car, based on the manufacturer:
Owners of Ford or similar vehicles have a simple process they can use to turn off StabiliTrak. However, depending on your vehicle model, the StabiliTrak sensor might not be located in the same place. Once you identify the StabiliTrak sensor, you have to do the following:
- Start by pressing the StabiliTrak button (found on the steering wheel) once and release it immediately.
- Press and hold the traction control button for some time before releasing it. That simple process is enough to turn off the traction control.
The process might not be as simple as that on other vehicle models, including those from Ford. You must find the location of the StabiliTrak vehicle in your car. Here is the process you have to use:
- The first step is to find the location of the StabiliTrak sensor on your vehicle. You also have to check your vehicle’s menu for steering wheel controls in the instrument panel.
- On the left of the steering wheel, look for a button with a black arrow and press it.
- Now you have to scroll down again to manage the settings. Select Accept to see additional options on the menu.
- Select Driver Assist on the new menu followed by OK.
- That should expose the Driver Control option, which means you have turned off StabiliTrak. The only thing that remains is to press OK, and that’s it.
2) Chevrolet and GMC
If you drive a Chevrolet or GMC, the process of turning off StabiliTrak is slightly different from that of a Ford. Here are the steps to follow:
- Step 1: Press the center button and wait for the mainboard button.
- Step 2: Press and hold down the button on the mainboard for several seconds until you activate the traction control.
- Step 3: Next, the vehicle displays a DIC message. If you drive a GMC Sierra, this should be clear to you.
- Step 4: As you start driving the car, wait for some time for the StabiliTrak to turn on automatically. That usually happens once your vehicle reaches at least 56 km/h.
For those who drive a Volkswagen or similar vehicle, the procedure might be slightly different. Here is the process of turning off the traction control.
- Step 1: At this stage, you have to convert the vehicle to accessory mode. Remember to keep the ignition in place. However, you should avoid turning the engine on for the time being.
- Step 2: Once you finish step 1, go through the lights until you reach the warning lights.
- Step 3: If you have no idea which one is the warning light, look for one whose button has a triangle. Press the button.
- Step 4: Once the warning lights come on, you can move to the next stage.
- Step 5: Press the accelerator pedals, going through each pedal one at a time. Repeat the process four more times until you have gone through the cycle a total of five times.
- Step 6: Pressing the accelerator pedal forces the vehicle to move forward for several feet. You should then be able to see the traction control come back on automatically.
Toyota provides the most straightforward process for turning off the traction control. The vehicle comes with a VSC button, which you can use to turn off StabiliTrak by pressing and holding the button for several seconds. That simple action is enough to disable the VSC and TRAC. You can know that this is the case through a message that says VSC OFF and TRAC OFF.
5) Dodge Jeep Y Chrysler, Fiat, or RAM
Like Toyota, these three vehicle types provide the most uncomplicated procedure for turning off StabiliTrak. Here is how you can go about it:
- Step 1: Press the ESC button and hold for six or more seconds.
- Step 2: The sound of a buzzer indicates that the StabiliTrak is off. In the instrument group, you should see the ESC OFF message.
How to Reset Service Stabilitrak Light in Different Vehicles?
When the StabiliTrak light turns on, it indicates a computer hardware or software failure. You can resolve the problem by pressing the traction control button on the steering wheel. Alternatively, you can follow the procedure prescribed by your car manufacturer. This is not any different from the steps described above.
However, before you reset the service StabiliTrak light, you should perform the necessary diagnostic checks. That’s because your system communicates problems only through the warning lights. Here are simple steps you could use to go through the process.
- Step 1: First, manually press on the StabiliTrak button, just in case it had been disabled due to prevailing weather conditions. Once you are sure that the system is on, move to the next steps.
- Step 2: Turn your vehicle’s handwheel clockwise and check if it shuts off. If it does, then your car doesn’t require additional service. However, if it doesn’t, go through the following steps.
- Step 3: Turn off your vehicle, hold on for 15 minutes, and turn on the car. Check if the DIC message has disappeared, indicating that your vehicle no longer requires repair. If the message lingers, contact a professional repair shop or your vehicle’s local dealer for assistance.
What Causes Stabilitrak Warning Light to Come on?
When you see the Service StabiliTrak warning light, the system on your car might not be working as well as it should. Probably, it has shut down entirely or is receiving a wrong signal. The following are some of the most common reasons for the StabiliTrak light turning on:
1) Faulty Connection
When the GM-LAN communication line is damaged, it may tamper with the Service StabiliTrak connection. GM-LAN communication cables by General Motors are wiring harnesses with a plastic jacket extending to the transmission mechanism.
Protecting critical gearbox components and the wiring requires mounting a heat shield on the gearbox. However, the plastic jacket might get exposed to intense heat, making it brittle, detached, and easy to break.
It is this vulnerability of the GM-LAN cable that may cause the StabiliTrak light to turn on. The cable is likely to melt in the sections where it comes into contact with the heat shield, exposing the metallic wires. That may disrupt the communication in the vehicle’s computer systems, including StabiliTrak.
2) Input Sensor
There could be a problem with the input sensor when you spot the StabiliTrak warning on the dashboard. While the problem might not be directly related to traction control, it could be the turn rate, steering angle, or wheel speed sensor. Once you identify the affected sensor, replace it to resolve the problem.
3) Faulty Controller
It is also possible that there is a problem with the powertrain control module (PCM), making the Service StabiliTrak turn on. Here is why. The electronic sensor at every wheel must communicate with the PCM concerning stability and steering to activate the StabiliTrak system. That’s common, especially in extreme weather conditions.
How to Fix StabiliTrak?
The Service StabiliTrak error message indicates the presence of a problem you need to fix. You can reset the service StabiliTrak light by going through the following steps to cycle primary engine ignition.
- Step 1: Stop and turn off the vehicle.
- Step 2: Wait for 20 seconds or more.
- Step 3: Start the vehicle and put it on standby mode. That should clear the notification.
- Step 4: If it doesn’t, ask your local dealer or a qualified technician for assistance.
How to Turn Off the Service StabiliTrak Light?
The reason why the Service StabiliTrak light is on is a loss of traction. However, the light may turn on without the presence of any traction problem, as discussed above. Regardless of the situation, you can reset the service StabiliTrak light by going through the following process:
1) Drive on for several minutes
One of the instances, when the stability light warning comes on is after changing the battery. There isn’t a huge problem – your car system is only performing a self-check. You can quickly resolve the issue by driving it for several minutes. While at it, turn your vehicle and right several times. The system should automatically reset the stability light back to normal.
2) Avoid Driving Too Fast
When speeding, the StabiliTrak light may flash as a warning that you should slow down. At high speeds, the stability program goes into overdrive to keep control of your car. Once you slow down to an average speed, the light turns off. Therefore, avoid driving beyond your city’s speed limits. While StabiliTrak can help you avoid accidents, it wouldn’t do that if you move too fast.
3) Turn on the Traction Control System
Regardless of the model, your vehicle has an ESC button that turns StabiliTrak on or off. When the StabiliTrak system is deactivated, the traction control light remains on. So, if you notice that the light is lingering on, you might have pressed the ESC button accidentally. After starting your car, look for the ESC, ESP, or DSC switch, press it, and hold for three to five seconds. When you check the dashboard, the light should be off.
4) Equip the Vehicle with Tyres of the Same Type and Size
When the tires on your vehicle aren’t of the same size, some of the wheels may spin faster, triggering the speed sensor. The effect is the Service StabiliTrak light turning on. As a precaution, you should equip your vehicle with tires of the same type and size. That would ensure that the traction lights never turn on. If they were on, then they would automatically turn off.
5) Carry Out System Scan
One of the reasons for the traction light turning on is a malfunctioning stability system. When you have tried everything else and don’t see a result, consult your local dealership or qualified repair shop to carry out a system scan. A technician can fix the problem and relieve you of any stress you might be having.
Stabilitrak and Traction Control Disabling Itself
The StabiliTrak and traction control often get turned off as a result of the engine misfiring. You can know that your engine has misfired when you see machine flashing lights. In the beginning, it isn’t much of a problem. However, letting things escalate for far too long may turn on service StabiliTrak lights.
A flashing light is a sign of misfiring in the engine. For StabiliTrak and traction control to work correctly, the engine speed should be reliable. So, a misfiring engine automatically turns off the two systems. Fixing the misfire resets the two systems automatically.
You only need to know and fix the reason for the engine misfire. For example, it could be due to a loose spark plug wire. If you cannot go under the hood to check for the problem, then have a qualified technician do it for you. If that doesn’t work, you must use a code reader to acquire a computer-generated number to fix the problem.
The Cost of Replacing the StabiliTrak System
You can replace your vehicle’s StabiliTrak or traction control system by paying anything between $80 and $190. The price includes labor costs ranging from $30 to $50, depending on the vehicle manufacturer.
Sometimes, your vehicle may experience Service StabiliTrak issues for a destroyed sensor. That may mean parting with anything between $250 and $400 to acquire a new sensor for your vehicle.
If a Service StabiliTrak warning light has no apparent cause, you should investigate thoroughly before choosing a course of action. Possibly, you may fail in bringing your vehicle back to speed. That would make it necessary to seek help from the nearest vehicle repair shop or dealer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I drive with the StabiliTrak light on?
What causes traction control malfunction?
Why are my StabiliTrak and ABS lights on?
Where is the StabiliTrak button?
The purpose of StabiliTrak messages is to help you know when your vehicle needs attention. It protects you from accidents caused by wheel spinning, slippage, or skidding. One of the reasons to reset the service StabiliTrak light is malfunctioning input sensors. It could also be that a controller problem interferes with power transmission to the wheels, preventing perfect surface traction. However, there are instances when you may want to disable StabiliTrak, including driving on slippery surfaces. Ensure you remail alert!