Hey, Why Is My Car's ESC Light Active?

Hey, Why Is My Car's ESC Light Active?
Electronic stability control (ESC) Utilizes the anti-lock brake system to control the vehicle when the driver may lose control in a low traction situation. Such as when the vehicle is driving or accelerating and the wheels break loose the ESC kicks in within milliseconds faster than anybody could react and applies braking and reduction in power to the slipping wheel to try and maintain traction so that the vehicle does not slide out of control.

Is Your Car's ESC Light On?

The ESC light appears because the car is activating traction assistance at that very moment. Now, if this is happening out-of-context (like, it’s constantly lit all the time), there might be a wheel sensor issue, a tire alignment problem, or a faulty anti-lock brake module.

Your car's ESC light flashing is not something to ignore. Instead, it warns that something may risk your vehicle's integrity. To ensure your safety on the road and prevent symptoms from worsening, you must learn the reasons behind the warning and what to do about it.

At the first sign of a flashing ESC light, we recommend communicating any concerns with a technician for professional assistance. Catching potential problems early on can save you time and money in the long run.

Let's Get To The Bottom Of It!

  • Q: Are your vehicle's tires spinning when accelerating on slippery roads?

    You might also notice a "check engine" light on the dashboard.

    The steering angle sensor tells the anti-lock brake and traction control systems which way the car is going and how fast it's turning. If the readings from the sensor are wrong or unstable, the ABS and ESC systems may turn on at the wrong times or even turn off completely if the problem is serious enough. Consequently, the vehicle is prompt to slip depending on road conditions.

  • Q: Are your tires locking up when you brake on slippery roads?

    You might also notice the ABS, "Check Engine," and ESC lights on the car's dashboard.

    The ABS prevents your tires from slipping while braking or accelerating, helping you to control your vehicle in harsh driving conditions. If the ABS isn't working, it'll turn off, and your brakes may lock up on slippery roads.

  • Q: Is the ESC light the only warning you see on the dashboard?

    You might also notice a "check engine" light flashing on your car's dashboard, indicating a deeper problem.

    The ESC has an on/off switch that you can activate for specific driving conditions. If the switch is not functioning or there's a problem, the ESC warning light will stay on steadily.

  • Q: Do you have tires of different sizes or tread patterns on your vehicle?

    Notice if your vehicle's braking and acceleration are slippery on wet roads. In addition, you might also notice a "check engine" light on the car's dashboard.

    Tires with similar rolling distances are essential for vehicles with electronic stability control; each tire's length when spinning should be equal. Unfortunately, different tread designs and tire brands have different rolling distances, even if they're the same size. Also, worn tires have various measures than new ones. Using mismatched tires confuses the wheel speed sensors, triggering traction control or anti-lock brakes even while driving straight. This may also disable the ABS or ESC systems.

All related issues checked?

Find Professional Help

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Hey, Why Is My Car's ESC Light Active?

Vehicle Health Inspection Proof

Explore the following typical inspection results that show a potential cause for the symptom and select the one you believe is similar to your vehicle's issue.

Faulty wheel speed sensor

This image shows a faulty wheel speed sensor. In this case, a failing wheel bearing damaged the sensor.

A customer reported a noise coming from their vehicle's left front wheel. The noise started as a hum but got louder and felt like a rumble. A week ago, the ABS and traction control lights also appeared on the dash.

The mechanic test-drove the vehicle and found the ABS and traction control lights on the dashboard. The left front wheel's noise got louder when doing a right turn.

During a vehicle health inspection, the mechanic found a loose wheel bearing on the left front wheel, making a loud noise. They fixed the wheel bearing and replaced the wheel speed sensor and tone ring, which had been damaged.

After repairs, the mechanic used a scan tool to ensure the speed sensor worked adequately. The ABS and traction control systems are restored and can work with the electronic stability control (ESC) system.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it

Typical Fixes to Address the Cause(s)

The following chapters bases themselves on experiences from our auto repair shop; we'll describe related problems' causes and fixes.

"Understand how the Electronic Stability Control system works." fixes "Confusing dashboard ESC light icon"

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Sometimes a problem is more challenging to describe than it initially looked like. If you are not sure your problem is described by this article, please find below similar vehicle symptoms, which might describe better the issue you are experiencing.

Other things your auto repair shop might talk about:

Dynamic stability control. Electronic stability program. Engine power. Stability control light.

Is ESC Light
Your Issue?