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How To Fix a Traction Control System

Traction Control car warning light symbol

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Traction Control Repair Is An Intermediate Task for Most DIYers. Here’s Everything You Need To Know To Fix Your Traction Control System at Home.

  • DIY Difficulty Level: Intermediate
  • Time Required: About an hour
  • Tools & Materials: The tools you’ll need to fix a traction control system will largely depend on what part of the system is malfunctioning.

What Is The Traction Control System?

The traction control system works to help your vehicle maintain control when accelerating in slippery conditions. It uses a wheel speed sensor that alerts the system when a wheel is spinning too fast. The traction control system responds by either limiting power to the wheel that’s spinning too fast or applying the brakes.

Is It Safe To Drive With Your Traction Control Light On?

It can be safe to drive with the traction control light on, but you’ll need to know why it’s on. If you see the light come on, it could be because the system is in operation. This will happen if you’re driving in slippery conditions. If the conditions are dry and the light comes on, it could be because of a problem with the system. If it is the only light that comes on, there is no need to panic. Find a place to pull over and turn off the car. Restart it to see if the light goes off.

If the TCS light comes back on, you’ll need to diagnose the problem. It is safe to drive the car in some conditions, but be aware that any slippery road conditions could cause your vehicle to lose control. Check to see if the ABS light also comes on. These two systems are connected, and both lights could mean a problem with the braking system.

While you can drive with the traction control system off, it is not always advisable. There are a few reasons for this. First, if you drive in slippery conditions, you won’t have the added safety it gives you to maintain traction. Second, if there is a fault in the system, the traction control could kick on randomly while you drive. This could alert the ABS to apply the brakes at a time when they are not needed, which could be dangerous.

When To Fix the Traction Control System?

There is no set interval for fixing or changing the traction control system. If the dash light goes on and the system is malfunctioning, the problem will need to be addressed.

There are a few things you can do when your traction control light goes on to see if you can get it to go off. First, just drive your car for a few minutes. If it doesn’t go off, check to see if the stability control system was accidentally deactivated. Look for a switch that says ESC, DSC, or ESP. Click and hold it to see if it goes back on.

If these don’t work, you’ll most likely need to have the system scanned to find out why it’s malfunctioning. If you have a scanner at home, do it yourself. If you don’t, you can take it to an auto parts store or a mechanic.

What Are Common Symptoms Indicating You Need To Fix the Traction Control System?

  • TSC dashboard light goes on
  • Traction control system won’t turn on or off
  • Loss of traction control features
  • Loss of the anti-lock brake system

Keep in Mind

The traction control system indicator light can mean many different things. It’s important to find out why the light is on and determine if it is a simple fix or if it needs a more significant repair. Since the traction control system and the ABS work together, you should also have the ABS checked while fixing the TCS. Please note that the majority of OBD2 code readers (including the FIXD sensor) is not able to read airbag, ABS, TPMS, traction control, or manufacturer-specific trouble codes.

How To Fix the Traction Control System

There are numerous components to the traction control system, so properly diagnosing the issue is crucial in saving time and money. A faulty traction control module is one of the most common problems with the traction control system. You can replace the module in a few steps, but you’ll first need to purchase a new module or you can usually find quality control units in low-mileage cars at the junkyard for less money. Make sure to research the one you need for your vehicle’s make and model.

Step 1: Disconnect the Battery

Whenever you work on electronic components in your vehicle, disconnect the battery, starting with the negative cable. You’ll need a wrench to loosen the nut in order to remove the cables. Once you have the negative cable off, you can remove the positive cable.

Step 2: Locate the Traction Control Module

Depending on the vehicle, it might be under the hood as a part of the ABS control module. For other vehicles, it could be in the trunk area or toward the interior of the vehicle.

Step 3: Disconnect the Traction Control Module

Unplug the electrical connectors. Be sure to take pictures along the way, or use masking tape to label all connections, so you can put everything back together correctly. Remove the screws that hold the module in place.

Step 4: Connect the New Module

Put the new module in the place of the old one and connect all the wiring and connectors that you unplugged from the original part. If you have an older vehicle, be careful with the plastic connectors because plastic can get brittle and break easily.

Step 5: Start the Vehicle

Reconnect the negative battery terminal and start up your vehicle. Watch for the ABS and check engine light will illuminate briefly and then go out. If the traction control system light is still on, it might take a few ignition cycles to clear any codes that are stored in the system.

Still Need Help?

Want an expert mechanic on speed dial who can walk you through DIY repairs and answer any questions? Try FIXD for just $19.99 and get a 2-week free trial of FIXD Premium, giving you access to our certified and friendly FIXD Mechanic Hotline, Vehicle History Report, and more!

FIXD Research Team

At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.

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About the Author

FIXD Research Team

FIXD Research Team

At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

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