Service Stability System [Causes and How to Fix this Warning Light]

The Service Stability System of a vehicle goes by different names. Sometimes it is called the Vehicle Dynamic Control, the Vehicle Stability Control, the Dynamic Stability Control, or the Electronic Stability Control. Whichever you call it, it always bothers us when this warning light comes on. So, what does it mean when the Service Stability System warning light flashes or flickers?

The Service Stability System is a computer system of your vehicle that detects when you seem to start skidding. It will automatically apply the brakes to allow you to steer in the correct direction safely.

Read on to learn more about your vehicle’s Service Stability System, including why its light comes on and how to fix it.

Service Stability System [Causes and How to Fix this Warning Light]

service stability system

Refers to the Vehicle’s Computer System That Detects Skidding

The Service Stability System refers to the computer system of your vehicle that detects when your vehicle tends to start skidding. It will automatically apply the brakes, allowing you to steer safely in the correct direction.

Compares the Steering Wheel Angle with the Actual Direction Where the Vehicle Is Going

This computer system works by comparing the steering wheel angle with the actual direction where the vehicle is going. It also takes into consideration the road speed of each wheel.

Automatically Adjusts the Brakes

If the system detects a lateral slip in the tires, it automatically adjusts the brakes. It also adjusts the throttle differential and/or the suspension to completely bring back the vehicle into line.

Works on Wet or Icy Pavements and Dry Ones

What’s great about this Service Stability System is that it works not only on wet or icy pavements but also on dry ones. Impressively, it is capable of detecting skids more quickly than you do. It is possible to correct your driving even without you knowing it.

Flashing Service Stability System Warning Light

So, how would you know if it did correct you? The Service Stability System warning light on your dashboard will flash or flicker as you drive. Some vehicles even emit a beep when this happens.

Does Not Enhance Car’s Performance

However, you should remember that the Service Stability System does not enhance performance. Most of all, it does not replace your safe driving practices.

An example of this is if you are forced into an extreme steering correction to avoid a deer that suddenly appears in front of you. If you violently maneuver the car, it will most likely exceed the system’s limits.

Not Capable of Increasing Traction

The Service Stability System is also not capable of increasing traction. At the same time, it does not make you corner faster.

Service Stability System Components

The Electronic Control Unit (ECU) is the brain of the Service Stability System. It also controls other vehicle systems such as the following:

  • Climate Control System,
  • Traction Control System, and
  • Anti Lock Braking System (ABS).

The Service Stability System consists of several sensors. These include the following:

  1. Steering Wheel Angle Sensor
  2. Wheel Speed Sensor
  3. Lateral Acceleration Sensor
  4. Yaw Rate Sensor
  5. Other Sensors

1. Steering Wheel Angle Sensor

The Steering Wheel Angle Sensor measures the position angle and rate of turn of the steering wheel. It is positioned in the vehicle’s steering column. It identifies where you want to steer.

2. Wheel Speed Sensor

The Wheel Speed Sensor refers to a type of tachometer. It is a sender device that reads the speed of a car’s wheel rotation. In essence, this sensor detects how fast your wheels are spinning.

3. Lateral Acceleration Sensor

The Lateral Acceleration Sensor measures the g-force from a turn and then sends information to the ECU. It detects how fast the vehicle is moving in a sideways manner.

4. Yaw Rate Sensor

The Yaw Rate Sensor detects whether the vehicle tends to spin around the vertical axis. It assists the Service Stability System in determining the driving-dynamic state of the vehicle. In essence, this sensor detects how much the vehicle is turning.

5. Other Sensors

Longitudinal Acceleration Sensor

There are Service Stability Systems that also feature a Longitudinal Acceleration Sensor. This sensor determines the forward and backward acceleration of a car.

This includes not only normal acceleration but also decelerating braking forces. This sensor sends information about road pitch.

Roll Rate Sensor

Another type of sensor is the Roll Rate Sensor. Some Service Stability Systems have this to enhance error corrections coming from the Wheel Speed Sensor, the Lateral Acceleration Sensor, the Yaw Rate Sensor, and the Steering Wheel Angle Sensor.

Service Stability System Light on Different Car Brands

Cadillac

The Service Stability System Light on a Cadillac is added to your vehicle’s anti-lock braking system.

It works by determining if your Cadillac loses directional control as you drive it. This system consists of several types of sensors. Some of which are the Yaw Sensor and the Steering Wheel Position Sensor.

When your Cadillac senses that you are losing directional control, it automatically applies brakes to specific wheels. This is in its attempt to correct the vehicle’s position if it seems to be sliding or losing traction.

Buick

Similarly, the Service Stability System light on a Buick flashes or flickers to alert you that it is currently working actively.

Your Buick might be sensing that you are in the wrong direction and that there is a risk of skidding. It will automatically apply the brakes to one or two wheels to help you steer in the correct direction.

The Service Stability System of a Buick has several types of sensors. But the most common cause for the system light to flash or flicker is when there is a faulty steering wheel position. 

What Does the Service Stability System Light Mean

service stability system cadillac

The Service Stability System has been around since 1983. But it was only in 2012 that all cars manufactured and sold in the United States were mandated to be equipped with this system.

There are different reasons why the Service Stability System light illuminates. These include the following:

  1. Your Vehicle’s Service Stability System Is Doing Its Job
  2. Service Stability System Malfunctions

1. Your Vehicle’s Service Stability System Is Doing Its Job

As we all know, when a warning light on our vehicle’s dashboard starts to flash or flicker, it tends to bother us. This is because we know that there’s something wrong with our car and it needs immediate attention.

Active Service Stability System

However, it is different in the case of the Service Stability System of a vehicle. When this system flashes or flickers, it is currently working actively. Suffice to say that it is doing its job efficiently.

When your car’s Service Stability System detects a risk of skidding, it will gently apply the brakes automatically. It will also guide you to steer safely in the correct direction.

Prevents the Risk of Skidding

When your vehicle does this, the warning light on your car’s dashboard will flash or flicker. This then indicates that it is assisting you in preventing the risk of skidding.

In some vehicles, the warning light flashes regularly. There are, however, vehicles in which the warning light flickers fast. Whichever manner it flashes or flickers, it is communicating the same thing.

Now, when the warning light flashes or flickers, what does it mean? It means that you have restored full control of the vehicle, and everything is in place. You will also notice that the Anti Lock Braking System light has come off too.

2. Service Stability System Malfunctions

A flashing or flickering Service Stability System Warning Light may mean it is doing its job efficiently. But it may also mean that the system is malfunctioning. In which case, you will notice the continuous flashing on startup.

The best way to address this is, first, to not panic. Next, make sure to bring your car to a service center or your trusted mechanic. This way, they will be able to address the issue immediately.

Again, what does it mean when your car says service stability system? The Service Stability System detects when your car starts to skid. Then, it gently applies the brakes to help you drive in the right direction.

What Causes the Service Stability System to Flash Continuously on Startup

If the Service Stability System flashes continuously on startup, it is malfunctioning. Since this system consists of different sensors, one or two may be faulty. It is even possible that more sensors are damaged.

Failing Wheel Speed Sensor or the ABS Sensor

In most cases, the wheel speed sensor or the ABS sensor is the culprit. In which case, you will also notice the ABS warning light illuminating. But it is not uncommon that they get faulty. Over time, they also get dirty, or their wires wear out. This occurrence, however, is easy to fix.

Faulty Steering Angle Sensor

Another issue triggering the Service Stability System warning light is when the steering angle sensor gets faulty.

Frequently Asked Questions – What Is a Service Stability System?

service stability system buick

Here are frequently asked questions about the Service Stability System of vehicles:

How Do I Know If My Car Has Stability Control?

Most vehicles are equipped with a Service Stability System. Some drivers are not aware of this because it goes by different names.

It is sometimes called the Vehicle Dynamic Control, the Vehicle Stability Control (DSC), the Dynamic Stability Control, the Electronic Stability Program (ESP), or the Electronic Stability Control (ESC).

The vehicle brands that call it ESC are the following:

  • Saturn,
  • Audi,
  • Chrysler,
  • Dodge,
  • Chevrolet,
  • Kia, and
  • Hyundai.

It is called ESP in such vehicle brands as:

  • Jeep,
  • Renault,
  • BMW,
  • Suzuki,
  • Sprinter,
  • Volkswagen, and
  • Mercedes Benz.

Mazda and Jaguar refer to their Service Stability System as DSC. BMW models also refer to it as DSC instead of ESP.

Other times, it is called StabiliTrak. This name is mainly used by vehicle brands, including:

  • General Motors,
  • Vauxhall,
  • Opel, and
  • Holden.

But StabiliTrak is a popular term, particularly for Buick and Cadillac vehicles.

What Does It Mean When the Car Says Service Stability System?

When the Service Stability System warning light illuminates, it may mean that there is a potential risk of skidding.

The system will automatically apply brakes and guide you to steer in the correct direction. The system is capable of detecting lateral slips in the tires. It helps you bring the vehicle back into line and put everything in place.

What Does It Mean When the Stability Control System Light Comes On?

If your vehicle is actively trying to maintain traction control, the Service Stability System warning light may switch on. If it continues to flash or flicker, the vehicle is still not under control.

It is also possible for the system warning light to illuminate for an extended period. In which case, the Service Stability System may be malfunctioning. It can also mean that the system has been deactivated manually.

How Do You Fix a Stability Control System?

If your vehicle’s Service Stability System continues to flash or flicker, try to drive it around for a few minutes. Make sure to make several left and right turn. During this time, the system is expected to conduct a self-check. It should reset the warning light on its own.

Why Is My Service Traction Control Light On?

Typically, a flashing or flickering service traction control light signifies that your vehicle is doing its job efficiently. It is guiding you to steer in the right direction.

However, it is also possible that your vehicle has damaged sensors or wires. If this happens to you, make sure to drive safely and bring your vehicle to a car care shop immediately.

Can You Drive with Stability Control Light On?

The electronic stability control extends to other systems such as the Anti Lock Braking System and the Traction Control System.

So, if the stability control light seems to illuminate continuously and unusually, it may malfunction. Driving your car with a malfunctioned electronic stability control is safe if the other warning lights are not flashing or flickering.

Is It Safe to Drive with Stability Control Light On?

Yes, it is safe to drive with the Stability Control Light on. This is as long as you drive safely. Make sure that you drive within the limits of your vehicle. The electronic stability control system does not enhance your car’s handling characteristics.

Can I Drive with Stabilitrak Light On?

It is safe to drive with the traction control system light on when you lose traction while driving. This means that the system is actively engaging. If such a system does not exist, your car will be susceptible to spinning out, skidding, or sliding around the road.

How Do I Clear the Service Stabilitrak Light?

You can reset the service StabiliTrak light in four easy steps. First, turn the handwheel clockwise. Then, turn off the engine of your car. Wait for about 15 seconds. Lastly, turn on the engine. Bring your vehicle to a car care shop or your local car dealer for assistance if it does not reset.

How Much Does It Cost to Service Traction Control?

If you need traction control switch replacement, the cost ranges between $99 and $111. As for the labor cost, it ranges between $47 and $59. The parts cost about $52. These figures, however, do not include other factors such as taxes, additional fees, location, and type of vehicle.

How Do I Turn off My Stability Control Light?

If your vehicle’s front wheels get stuck in mud or snow, there might be a need to manually turn off or deactivate the Traction Control and the Vehicle Stability Control.

That way, you can rock the vehicle to free it. You can turn off the Traction Control by pressing and releasing the Vehicle Stability Control button. This should turn the “TRAC OFF” light on.

What Are Symptoms of a Bad StabiliTrak?

A bad StabiliTrak has several symptoms. Some are losing power or shifting to limp mode, warning lights coming on, and hard shifting.

How Much Does It Cost to Service Electronic Stability Control?

Implementing electronic stability control on cars with anti-lock braking systems can cost about $50 per vehicle. Some vehicle owners may find it costly, but its benefits are significant. It can help reduce, if not eliminate, deaths and serious injuries caused by road accidents.

In Closing: Service Stability System Explained

To sum it up, the Service Stability System refers to the computer system of your vehicle that detects when your vehicle tends to start skidding. It will automatically apply the brakes, allowing you to steer safely in the correct direction.

This system consists of different sensors, including the following:

  • Steering Wheel Angle Sensor,
  • Wheel Speed Sensor,
  • Lateral Acceleration Sensor, and
  • Yaw Rate Sensor.

Service Stability Systems also feature a Longitudinal Acceleration Sensor and a Roll Rate Sensor.

If the service stability system warning light starts to flash or flicker, it should not make you panic.

It merely informs you that there is a potential risk of skidding, and the vehicle is helping you address it immediately. The system then stops flashing as soon as everything is back in control.

Read next:

How to Fix Service StabiliTrak?

Meaning of Stabilitrak Service Light

What Does It Mean When It Says Service StabiliTrak?