The traction control light is probably the most familiar dashboard sign you’ll encounter when driving, especially if you live in a place where it rains a lot. The light usually turns off on its own after a while, but in some cases, the traction control light won’t turn off.
If you see the TCL blipping on your dashboard, it generally means your car isn’t getting enough grip on the road. Apart from driving on slippery roads, the illuminated sign could be an indication of other problems, such as faulty wiring, a damaged steering rack, inadequate tire pressure, and aggressive driving.
But don’t be alarmed. Most of these problems can easily be solved. In this article, we’ll talk about why this dashboard sign stays lit and some common troubleshooting you can try to resolve the issue.
How Does The TCS Module Work?
The sole purpose of the traction control unit is to help you drive safely. It prevents the car from a skid or slipping by ensuring enough friction between the road and the wheels.
It primarily works by taking data from the sensors located at each of the four wheels and transferring that data to the powertrain control module. The computer then analyzes the acquired information to make adjustments in the wheel’s rotation, fuel excretion in cylinders, or braking.
Primary Causes for TCL Module Malfunction
We have already gone over the common reasons your traction control light could stay on. To avoid it in the future, you need to understand what caused this issue. In this section, we’ll discuss this issue in detail –
Not Enough Traction on Road
This is the most common reason why the traction light could turn on. In normal conditions, the TCL stays off but driving on gravel paths or sandy roads where it lacks necessary traction could cause this problem.
Moreover, bad weather, notably ice storms, rain, and snow, can seriously reduce road traction. Less traction will result in the over-spinning of one or more wheels. This will notify the Traction Control system to try to stabilize the car.
Speeding Or Cornering Too Fast
Driving too fast is never a good idea. If you try to accelerate too fast, the wheels may start slipping, causing the Traction Control to take over.
In recent car models, the Control System module has been used to make cornering safe and hassle-free. But, as we’ve said before, a sudden change in speed could make the car lose control. To prevent this, ease down on the gas pedal before turning.
The Tires Are Over-pressurized
The wheels cannot get enough grip if the tire pressure is too high. This could also affect the wheel rotation, which in turn, activates the traction light.
Moreover, driving with over-pressurized tires may result in fatal accidents. So, it’s a good idea to check your tires before driving.
Faulty Wiring Or Damaged Driving Sensors
Your car is packed with advanced sensors to make driving safe and easy. But, uncalibrated sensors could send wrong data to the computer, making it think the wheels have lost control.
But the problem could also lie in the car wiring. The wires in your car, especially the ones near the wheels, could easily be damaged. Faulty wires may confuse the computer. This can also turn the lights on.
The TCS Module Isn’t Activated
Illuminated TCL could also mean the TCS (traction control system) isn’t activated. Don’t worry; this isn’t a serious issue, and you can solve it yourself. Simply find the button and turn it on.
The Steering Rack Could Be Broken
A faulty steering rack could also activate the traction light. And a good steering rack makes driving easier. A bad steering rack puts too much pressure on the wheels, engaging the traction light.
A damaged rack could also pose other problems, such as significant power loss, rough driving, or dashboard problems.
Fixes for Traction Light Malfunction
Now that you know why the traction light could stay on, it’s time to fix that problem. Below are some common solutions you could try –
Take The Car Out for A Ride
The traction light could turn on if you had recently repaired your vehicle. Some maintenance, such as changing the battery or replacing the headlights or brakes, can cause this issue. If this is the case, there is no need to worry.
Simply drive your car for a few blocks, and the light should go away as soon as the system has checked the car’s stability.
Restart The TCS Module
The TCS module can be turned on or off using the ESC button on the dashboard. In some cases, you could have accidentally turned off the TCS.
To solve this, start your car and look for the “ECS,” “TCS,” or “DTC,” depending on your car model.
Once you have located the button, press it for 5-6 seconds. This should restart the following system. Check the dashboard to confirm the lights are off.
Check The Tire Pressure And Quality
Rotation speed varies between tire types, and this varying speed could set off the traction light. So, make sure you have installed the recommended type of tires on all four wheels.
To reset it, take your car to the workshop and have the tires changed.
Also, check whether your tire pressure is enough or not. As we’ve discussed before, proper tire pressure is really important to ensure a safe ride.
Furthermore, check if the lug nuts on the wheels are tightened to the manufacturers’ specifications.
Do A Mobile System Check
Most modern cars are equipped with an OBD2 port. This allows you to check the car’s system through your smartphone. Buy a premium OBD2 scanner and plug it into the port located under the steering wheel cabin.
Nowadays, scanners are equipped with an updated database that tells you exactly where the problem is.
Maintain A Steady Driving Speed
The traction control light may turn on if you drive too fast or take sudden sharp turns. The system will turn off automatically as soon as you slow down and drive within a safe limit.
Always remember to abide by driving rules; speeding will evidently lead to accidents.
Update The TCS Programming
If none of the mentioned steps do the trick, then the problem might lie in the TCS itself. Faulty sensors or ECU errors could lead to system malfunctions.
Unfortunately, you cannot fix this by yourself. But don’t worry; reprogramming the TCS unit isn’t very expensive, and a short trip to a workshop or dealership will easily solve this problem.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can you drive without turning on the TCS?
Yes, you can drive without turning on the traction control, but this is not advisable. This is an important safety feature that ensures your vehicle does not lose control under bad weather.
Keeping the TCS turned off won’t restrict you from driving. However, it will make driving unsafe.
- How much does it cost to fix a Traction Control Unit?
If a faulty control unit causes the traction light issue, then you might have to spend a hefty sum to fix the problem. Typically, replacing a broken TCS unit will cost anywhere between $800-$1200.
- Does Traction Control cause transmission problems?
A control in the traction control will not affect the transmission as both of them are unrelated. That said, some owners may face problems with shifting gears. Though it is fairly uncommon, a poorly installed TCS module can affect the driving experience in some cases.
- Can worn brake pads cause the traction light to turn on?
Though your brakes and TCS are different units, they work together. Worn-out pads will affect the wheel rotation drastically. So, in short, bad brakes can cause the traction light to come on.
Advancement in technology has increased vehicle safety by a great deal. And the Traction Control System is a complex and inseparable mechanism of your vehicle. This feature is designed to provide a safe and enjoyable driving experience.
The reasons behind an illuminated traction light are many, and it varies from vehicle to vehicle. Depending on the situation, fixing this problem could be as simple as checking the tire pressure or troublesome as changing the whole TCS unit.
We hope this article has helped you diagnose why your traction control light won’t turn off and that you don’t run into any problems in the future. Always remember to abide by the traffic rules and stay safe.