Chevy Service StabiliTrak & Traction Control: Symptoms & Diagnosis

The StabiliTrak Chevy system is a critical component of your car, giving you traction control whenever you are in a potentially dangerous situation on the road. Even with an increase in the number of cars with one type of traction control system (TCS), many people still have no idea how to use it. Confusion usually occurs when the service StabiliTrak Chevy light turns on, and you have no idea how to remove it.

As a safety precaution, you should never ignore the light when it appears. Doing so may expose you to danger, especially if you keep driving while it’s on. Please keep reading to know what the StabiliTrak system is all about, how it works, and methods of turning off the warning light. This article contains everything you need to know to use the StabiliTrak system and avoid endangering your life.

What Does StabiliTrak Mean?

What does StabiliTrak mean? When GM invented an electronic control system (ESC), it registered it under the name StabiliTrak. Therefore, StabiliTrak is an electronic stability system that keeps your steady, preventing it from slipping or skidding.

A popular ESC version is StabiliTrak Chevy from Chevrolet. It kicks into place when the sensors on the wheels detect variation in steering reaction and wheel location. The system can respond to both understeer and oversteer conditions, improving a driver’s safety. It is helpful for individuals who have little or no experience driving on slippery surfaces. The system detects when to assist the driver in applying brakes or adjusting the power in the wheels for a smoother ride.

How Does StabiliTrak Chevy Work?

StabiliTrak prevents spinning in the wheels by limiting the amount of power distributed to the vehicle’s wheels. Thus, it keeps the vehicle from skidding or spinning. Your vehicle moves in s straight line regardless of whether or not you are driving on a slippery road.

Modern vehicles have electronic sensors on the wheels, which work as part of the StabiliTrak system. The sensors help correct your vehicle’s direction, helping it move on the right path. Therefore, StabiliTrak is a vehicle maneuver system that keeps you on the road.

For example, if your car suddenly starts fishtailing, moving to the left, while the steering wheel and tires point to the right, the system can trigger the brakes on the outside front tire and straighten the car back on its track.

Sometimes, it is necessary to turn off StabiliTrak, especially when stuck in a snowstorm or muddy track. In such a situation, you need all the power your car can afford. Leaving StabiliTrak on would mean curtailing the vehicle from getting out of a sticky situation.

What Causes the Service StabiliTrak Chevy Light to Turn On?

The StabiliTrak system works together with the traction system, brake system, and steering wheel. However, it is not just these parts of the car that cause the service StabiliTrak to come on. The following are some common reasons for your car’s StabiliTrak light coming on.

  • ABS sensors
  • Faulty throttle position sensors
  • Defective fuel pump
  • Active Fuel Management (AFM)
  • Defective steering wheel position sensor
  • Brake switch
  • Tire pressure monitor sensors
  • E85 Fuel
  • Body control module

It is essential to watch for subtle signs such as your fuel tank going empty as that can cause the service StabiliTrak Chevy light to turn on. Knowing where to look eliminates the need for you to ask for help from a qualified technician.

Chevy Cruze: Service StabiliTrak Symptoms

Noticing the loss of StabiliTrak is hard, especially during everyday driving. However, during an emergency, you are likely to realize how uncontrollable your car might be. The following are some of the service StabiliTrak symptoms on your Chevy Cruze.

service StabiliTrak Chevy
  • Disabled Cruise Control: A malfunctioning StabiliTrak could be due to the disablement of the vehicle’s cruise control. Thus, it renders the car difficult to in an emergency.
  • Service StabiliTrak Warning Light: When your Chevy Cruze displays the “Service StabiliTrak” warning light, there is something wrong with the system. The cause could be any of the points listed above. So, it is essential to strive to rule out anything untoward.
  • Malfunctioning Traction Control: The traction control system (TCS) and StabiliTrak use the same sensors for different functions. While TCS helps maintain a wheel’s traction, StabiliTrak prevents the vehicle from sliding off the track. Thus, TCS failure is a sign of damaged sensors, which further indicates that StabiliTrak isn’t working quite as it should.

Be sure to take action whenever you notice any of these signs to avoid getting into an accident. If you cannot fix the problem yourself, take the car to the local dealership or repair shop as soon as you possibly can.

Chevy Silverado: Service StabiliTrak Symptoms

If you have a Chevy Silverado, you are unlikely to notice service StabiliTrak symptoms during everyday driving. Most of the time, it hits you that the StabiliTrak system isn’t working during an emergency. The following are the symptoms of service StabiliTrak for your Chevy Silverado:

  • Service StabiliTrak Warning Light On: The Chevy Silverado can warn you through a flashing light when the StabiliTrak system is disabled. So, the light turning in is a clear symptom of service StabiliTrak.
  • Loss of Cruise Control: Does your vehicle seem to have lost cruise control? Since cruise control is one of the functions of StabiliTrak, losing it means the system isn’t working as well as it should.
  • Failure in Traction Control: Your Chevy Silverado has two automatic safety systems – StabiliTrak and Traction control. These two systems rely on the same sensors to perform different functions. Therefore, if traction control breaks down, there is likely to be a StabiliTrak problem.

Chevy Equinox: Service StabiliTrak Symptoms

When your Chevy Equinox has a problematic StabiliTrak, you can notice several signs, many of which arise in an emergency. Under normal driving conditions, it would be hard for you to know if you have a terrible StabiliTrak system. The following are some of the symptoms for should watch out for:

1) Gear Shift Issues

If you notice a change in how your Chevy Equinox shifts gears, chances are your StabiliTrak system has issues. That’s because gear shift connects to the vehicle’s power, which is an element controlled by StabiliTrak. So, if the vehicle doesn’t appear to gain or lose power when you shift gears, make sure you check the StabiliTrak system.

2) StabiliTrak Light On

The StabiliTrak warning light appears like a vehicle with a trail of curved tire marks. The purpose of the light is to communicate important information about the functioning of StabiliTrak. Whenever you start the vehicle, it briefly shows you that Stabilitrak is installed and functioning well. However, when the light stays on for a prolonged period, it indicates a significant problem with StabiliTrak.

3) Loss of Cruise Control

You can only tell that you have lost cruise control in your Chevy Equinox in an emergency. That’s a clear sign that the StabiliTrak system isn’t working as expected.

4) Malfunctioning Traction Control

The traction control system (TCS) on a Chevy Equinox uses the same wheel sensors as StabiliTrak. If the sensors develop problems, none of the two systems can function normally. That’s why a malfunctioning TCS is one of the most apparent indicators that the StabiliTrak system isn’t working very well.

The StabiliTrak problems affecting the Chevy models above are universal to this car brand. Apart from Chevy Cruze, Chevy Equinox, and Chevy Silverado, they also affect Chevy Malibu, Chevy Impala, and Chevy Tahoe. So, if you have any of these car models, always watch out for the StabiliTrak symptoms discussed above.

Service StabiliTrak Chevy Diagnosis

Once you see signs that the StabiliTrak system in your vehicle isn’t working, you need to diagnose the problem. It is only by knowing the cause that you can fix the issues successfully.

In most cases, the service StabiliTrak turns on to indicate that the system isn’t working correctly, is getting a faulty signal, or has completely shut down. If the TCS light is also on, the StabiliTrak system is likely having issues. The following are the most common issues behind the StabiliTrak service warning light.

1) Faulty Input Sensor

A faulty input sensor could be the reason the service StabiliTrak light appears on your car’s dashboard. Since your car has sensors for the rate of turn, steering angle, and wheel speed, it is essential to determine the exact cause of the problem before taking action.

In this case, replacing the faulty sensors with a brand-new set is the only way to fix the problem. Your local Chevy dealer or repair shop can scan the vehicle, identify possible problems, and fix them promptly.

2) Damaged Controller

Possibly, your car has a damaged powertrain control module (PCM), the part of the engine that coordinates various functions, including the StabiliTrak system. Thus, a problem in the PCM may cause the service StabiliTrak Chevy light to come on.

However, you can’t know whether to blame a PCM fault without looking at other functions connected to it. Therefore, if you notice intermittent cylinder misfires, the check engine light on, and failure to start, the PCM is the most likely cause of the StabiliTrak issues. Without a well-functioning PCM, it is impossible to activate StabiliTrak, even with well-functioning sensors.

3) A Bad Connection

Regardless of the Chevy model you drive, your car has GM-LAN communication cables. It is a wiring harness with a plastic jacket extending to the transmission mechanism. Sometimes, these cables come into contact with the gearbox. Since most vehicles have a heat shield on the gearbox, excessive engine heat rarely affects the cables.

However, the heat shield might not last long, exposing the plastic cable cover to heat. With time, the cover becomes brittle and breaks to expose the cables. Due to this vulnerability, the GM-LAN communication channel is one of the biggest culprits in causing StabiliTrak issues. When the cables get grounded, no communication happens to and from StabiliTrak.

How to Reset or Turn Off Service StabiliTrak Light

Want to know how to reset or turn off service StabiliTrak light? The service StabiliTrak warning light usually comes on due to various reasons, as the information above indicates. Resolving the likely problem can restore the StabiliTrak system to normality and turn off the light. You could turn off the StabiliTrak warning light by pressing the system button next to it.

Ideally, you should start by diagnosing the reason behind the warning light. Unless you are a qualified mechanic, ask your local dealer to check your vehicle for you. Once you have ruled out or resolved all underlying causes, you can then go ahead and turn off the light, assuming it’s still on. Here is how to reset or turn off the service StabiliTrak light:

  • Step 1: Check that you haven’t pressed the StabiliTrak button manually and that the StabiliTrak system is not due to prevailing weather conditions. If that is the case, your StabiliTrak doesn’t have a significant problem.
  • Step 2: Turn your car’s handwheel clockwise and observe if it shuts off. If it does, then your car doesn’t need any service. Otherwise, be sure to carry on with the subsequent steps.
  • Step 3: Turn off the vehicle and wait for 15 minutes. After that, turn on the vehicle and check if the StabiliTrak warning disappears. If it does, your car doesn’t need additional service. However, if the light persists, contact a professional repair shop or local dealer to help you fix your vehicle.

How to Turn Off Service StabiliTrak Chevy Light?

If there is no major problem with your StabiliTrak system, the light could be on because of the loss of traction. The processes suggested below are helpful if the StabiliTrak light turns on while you are driving your vehicle.

1) Keep Driving for Several Minutes

The StabiliTrak warning light may turn on after you have changed your car battery. In that case, you don’t have a cause for alarm. Possibly, your car is in self-check mode. You can turn off the StabiliTrak warning light by driving the vehicle for a few minutes. Once the system resets, the light should automatically turn off.

2) Avoid Speeding

In a speeding vehicle, the StabiliTrak warning light turns on to warn you to slow down. High speeds push your vehicle’s stability program into overdrive as it struggles to stay in control of the car. Slowing down reduces the speed and relieves the stability program of extra effort to keep you safe.

3) Turn on StabiliTrak

Did you know that you can turn StabiliTrak on or off using the ESC button? Possibly, you pressed the button accidentally and triggered the Service StabiliTrak warning light. Thus, pressing the button once again can turn off the light. Start your car and press the ESC, ESP, or DSC button. Hold it for five or more seconds or until you turn off the light.

4) Install Tires of the Same Type and Size

Some tires on your vehicle may spin faster if there is a misalignment in their type and size. Once StabiliTrak senses an over-spinning tire, it turns on the warning light. Therefore, be sure to equip your car with the same-sized tires of the same type. Afterward, the tires spin uniformly and prevent the warning light from turning on.

5) Perform a Comprehensive System Scan

A malfunctioning stability system can trigger the warning light to turn on. If all the processes above do not work, ask the local Chevy dealership to scan your car’s system and identify the problem. A qualified mechanic can then fix the problem and return your vehicle’s operation to normalcy.

StabiliTrak and Traction Control Disabling Itself

Is StabiliTrak and traction control disabling itself? The chances are that your car engine is misfiring, as seen by the machine flashing lights on the dashboard. While it isn’t a significant problem initially, allowing it to persist can turn on the service StabiliTrak lights.

A flashing light indicates misfiring in the engine, causing unreliable speed. Consequently, StabiliTrak and traction control systems cannot work correctly. Therefore, a misfiring engine automatically switches off the two systems. Once you fix the misfire, the systems reset automatically.

However, it is important to investigate why the engine is misfiring. One possible reason is a loose spark plug. If you can’t diagnose the problem yourself, ask a qualified technician to do it for you. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to acquire a computer-generated number using a code reader before fixing the problem.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the cost of replacing a StabiliTrak system?

The cost of replacing a StabiliTrak system ranges from $80 to $190, including a labor cost of $30 to $50. However, if StabiliTrak issues result from a destroyed sensor, replacing it becomes necessary. In that case, the cost to install a new sensor is between $250 and $400. If you can’t place your hand on the cause for the StabiliTrak Chevy issues, investigate thoroughly and choose an appropriate course of action. If you have never repaired a vehicle, ask the nearest Chevy dealership for an assessment.

Can I drive with the StabiliTrak light on?

Yes, you can drive with the StabiliTrak turned on if it appears while on the road and in a dangerous situation. Turning off the light may make the vehicle spin out of control. If the light turns on for a different reason, first turn it off before you continue driving your car.

What causes traction control malfunction?

The leading cause of traction control malfunction is the build-up of dirt in the traction control and anti-lock sensors. This disrupts the proper functioning of the sensors, leading to traction control issues.

Why are my StabiliTrak and ABS lights on?

When you see your StabiliTrak and ABS lights on, the problem could be a failing ABS. That’s because the same control module operates the ABS and traction controls. Therefore, when one of the systems malfunctions, it affects the other one, making the lights appear together.

Where is the StabiliTrak button?

In any Chevy model, the StabiliTrak button is on the central console. If your vehicle has no controller, it likely doesn’t have StabiliTrak installed.

Conclusion

A service StabiliTrak Chevy warning is an indication that your vehicle needs attention. From the information above, the purpose of StabiliTrak is to prevent your vehicle from slippage, spinning, and skidding. When properly functioning, the StabiliTrak warning light stays off. However, when you notice it staying on for a long time, there is a problem you must fix. You can start by resetting the service StabiliTrak light. If that doesn’t work, your vehicle requires extensive scanning and repairs, which only a qualified technician can provide. Keep alert!

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