What Does Service Traction Control Mean? 

Traction control is one of today’s vehicles’ most important safety features. It ensures proper traction between the road and tires, which is especially helpful when driving in slippery conditions. When there is a problem with this function, the Service Traction Control light will illuminate the dashboard.

Service Traction Control is one of the warning lights on a vehicle’s dashboard. As the name implies, it indicates a problem in the traction control system, which means it is not working properly. Several problems can trigger the warning light, including the following: 

  1. Steering angle sensor failure 
  2. Bad wheel speed sensor 
  3. Issues with the anti-lock braking system 
  4. Wiring damage 
  5. Unfavorable road conditions 
  6. Active limp mode 
  7. Failing steering rack 
  8. Weak battery 
  9. Programming issues 
  10. Faulty module 

Read on to learn more about the meaning of Service Traction Control, including the reasons why the warning light is turning on and, more importantly, the best possible solutions. 

What Does Service Traction Control Mean? 

what does service traction control mean

Built-in Traction Control

Since 2011, it has been compulsory for all cars to have a built-in traction control feature. Nonetheless, there can be slight differences in how they work from one manufacturer to another.

But the essence remains the same: maintaining safe driving conditions by delivering the necessary traction. 

What Is Traction Control

To fully understand Service Traction Control’s meaning, you must be first familiar with traction control. In a nutshell, traction control is an active safety feature that detects when a wheel is losing surface grip.

After locating the issue, it automatically corrects the problem, ensuring that the vehicle remains stable. 

Most car dashboards will come with a Service Traction Control light. The specific appearance can vary from one vehicle to another. In most cases, it has two swerving lines with a car in the middle. The words Service Traction Control can also illuminate on the dashboard. 

Under normal conditions, the light is off, so the traction control is working properly. Once it lights up, it can indicate various problems. To be sure, the best thing to do is pull over and find out its causes. 

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What Causes Service Traction Control to Come on

While it can be different from one car to another, below are some of the most common things that can happen that will trigger the service traction control on a Chevy Cruze and other car models with such safety technology:

1. Steering Angle Sensor Failure 

The steering angle sensor is a crucial safety component in a vehicle. It is responsible for transmitting the rate of return of the steering wheel. It also ensures the right wheel angle. Any fault in the signal disables the stability control. Hence, it causes the Service Traction Control warning. 

Aside from the traction control light, several situations indicate problems in the steering angle sensor. For instance, you might notice that the steering wheel has excessive play. There can be an erratic movement in the steering wheel, which makes it more challenging to maneuver the vehicle. 

2. Bad Wheel Speed Sensor 

If things in your vehicle are working as they should, then the speed wheel sensors constantly communicate with the traction control system. This sensor monitors the speed of wheel rotation.

If it detects an issue that can make the drive unsafe, it triggers a warning, prompting the Service Traction Control warning light. 

Because of their location, wheel speed sensors are easily prone to wear. When they are damaged over time, you can see a Service Traction Control warning on the dashboard.

It suffers from mechanical stress due to dirt, grit, and other unfavorable conditions. It is crucial to replace the sensor when necessary. 

3. Issues with the Anti-Lock Braking System 

More popularly known as ABS, the anti-lock braking system is a safety feature that prevents the locking up of wheels.

When you suddenly brake, the vehicle may lose traction and skid. ABS can help prevent such from happening. It also releases the brake up to ten times a second to improve traction control. 

Several factors can cause a faulty anti-braking system. For instance, it can be because of the contamination in the sensors.

When the latter happens, dirt and grime will accumulate, preventing the sensors from working as they should. In turn, ABS will not function as you expect, and it can activate the Service Traction Control warning. 

4. Wiring Damage 

Your vehicle comes with a series of wires. They connect the components, including those crucial to properly functioning traction control.

Over time, these wires can be damaged or cut. It will prevent proper communication and hence, can activate the Service Traction Control warning light on the dashboard, even when there is no apparent problem.

Nonetheless, wiring damages are less likely to be an issue than faulty sensors. It is an uncommon cause but could be one of the reasons for Service Traction Control lighting up.

If it is the reason, the faulty wire is possibly next to the wheel speed sensor. It is often the most exposed to external elements that can speed up wear. 

5. Unfavorable Road Conditions 

While the primary function of traction control is to ensure safe driving on slippery surfaces, the warning light can be triggered if you are driving in unfavorable conditions.

For instance, such can happen when ice or snow is on the ground. These conditions can make it challenging to maintain the right traction. 

Driving on a difficult road can illuminate the service traction control and Stabilitrak service light. It means that the car is finding it hard to handle the surface.

In most cases, there is nothing much you can do about it. The best thing to do is to drive slowly so that you will stay safe. You can also pull over and wait for the weather and road to improve. 

6. Active Limp Mode 

The limp mode is a common feature in many vehicles that activate when it detects a problem in the engine and transmission control unit.

Once active, it reduces the car’s speed and turns off the air conditioning, among other non-essential functions. It can also trigger the Service Traction Control on a Chevy or other vehicles. 

Several factors can make the limp mode active, including:

  • Engine overheating,
  • Inadequate oil or fluid,
  • Transmission failure,
  • Damaged cables, and
  • Sensor issues.

The limp mode is not dangerous but indicates problems requiring attention. 

7. Failing Steering Rack 

A component of the rack-and-pinion steering system, the steering rack is a parallel bar in the front axle. It moves right and left as the steering wheel turns. It directs the front wheels in the right direction.

Some signs it has a problem include the following:

  • Jerky motion,
  • Loud noise, or
  • Difficulty turning the steering wheel.

An issue with the rack can also activate the Service Traction Control warning light. 

Several reasons can cause the steering rack to fail. Among others, a problem with the steering pump is the most common. It can also be a result of fluid contamination.

It deserves immediate attention as it will not only activate service traction control but also make you lose control of the steering wheel. 

8. Weak Battery 

The battery is one of the most important components of any car. It provides the power that the engine needs. When you have a weak battery, other parts can suffer.

Among others, one thing that can happen is that it can cause the warning lights to turn on even when there is no problem, including the service traction control. 

9. Programming Issues 

Like other functions in vehicles that computers control, the service traction control light can activate due to a programming issue.

You can resolve this by reprogramming the traction control system. Programming issues can be a result of wear, or it can also be because of manufacturer oversight or defective component, which brings us to our last point on this list. 

10. Faulty Module 

The problem can be because of the traction control itself. The module or computer controlling the system can experience an issue. Hence, it might not function accordingly. This means the warning light can appear on the dashboard, even when nothing is wrong. 

This problem is rare than the others mentioned above. It is often easier to spot any fault with the other components than the traction control module itself. Considering this possibility only once you have ruled out those mentioned on this list is best. 

It may not be faulty, but you might have turned it off. Take note that traction control is not a feature that is always on. A manual button will let you turn off Stabilitrak or traction control manually. So, ensure that such is turned on once you see the light on the dashboard. 

Again, what does service traction control mean? A Service Traction Control light means your car’s keeping the traction on a slippery road, or there’s an issue with the sensor. If there’s a sign of trouble, have a mechanic check your car.

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How to Fix Service Traction Control 

what does service traction control mean on a chevy cruze

Once you see the service traction control on Chevy Impala or any other vehicle, do not panic. The best thing to do is to pull over and find the root cause of the problem.

Below are some of the best things to do:

1. Replace the Faulty Components 

As earlier mentioned, one of the reasons why the Service Traction Control warning light illuminates is that some components are faulty. Start by determining the cause of the problem; from here, you can determine the specific component you need to replace. 

Among others, one that might need a replacement is the wheel speed sensor. A professional mechanic can do the job for you, which can cause $135 to $250. However, it can be a DIY task if you are confident in your skills. You need to buy the sensor, which will cost around $100. 

The anti-lock braking system is another part that can be causing the issue. To be sure, you need an OBD2 scanner to verify the cause. If it is the ABS module, its replacement can be up to $1,000 when done by a qualified mechanic or $800 if you fix it yourself. 

2. Reprogram the Traction Control System 

If the problem is with the traction control system itself, a quick fix is reprogramming. Many car owners, however, might not have the tools and knowledge necessary to do this.

The best thing to do is to go to a mechanic. The diagnosis of the problem can cost $100, and the labor can range from $50 to $100. 

Alternatively, you can also do it yourself. One tool that you will need is an OBD2 scanner. Plug it into the diagnostic link connector. Enter details about your vehicle and begin the diagnosis. Choose reset codes or erase codes. If it does not work, then you should find a mechanic to do the job. 

3. Drive at Better Road Conditions

Not only faulty components can activate the Service Traction Control warning. As earlier stated, it can also be because of poor road conditions. Hence, the solution can be as simple as driving on better surfaces.

If there is thick snow or ice, it is best to postpone driving unless you have a chain. If not, there is a higher chance of seeing the traction control light on the dashboard. 

4. Turn On the Traction Control Button 

Some people may not be aware that the service traction control warning can appear because the function is not active.

You must manually turn it on by pushing the traction control button. The location of the latter can differ depending on the make or model of the vehicle you have. 

Is Stability Control Same as Traction Control?

This is one thing that most people will find confusing. In most cars, activating or deactivating this feature will require pressing the same button.

At the same time, only one warning light on the dashboard can indicate a problem in both systems. Despite such, they work differently, even if they are both crucial safety features.

The biggest difference between the two is that traction control is more limited in terms of what it can do. It can only limit wheel spin. This contrasts with stability control, which can maneuver a car in the right direction to avoid accidents. 

Traction and stability control will work with a vehicle anti-lock brake system. They are components of an integrated system, which can provide a safer driving experience, especially in unfavorable road conditions. 

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Frequently Asked Questions – Service Traction Control

what does service traction control mean on chevy impala

When Should You Turn the Traction Control Off?

While traction control is an excellent feature, you do not always need to turn it on. For instance, one of the situations when it is better to turn it off, is when you are stuck in snow or mud. It should also be off when you are using chains or when trying to rock the car.

Can You Drive When the Service Traction Control Light Is On? 

Technically, yes, you can still drive. However, it is best to stay safe, so we recommend you immediately pull over once you get the chance. The failure of the traction control system can prevent proper wheels from spinning.

In turn, it increases the chances of losing control, especially on slippery roads. It can harm the surface of the tire and reduce engine performance.

How Much Does It Cost to Repair Service Traction Control? 

The Service Traction Control repair cost depends on several factors, such as the extent of the problem and your location. In most instances, it can cost anywhere from $80 to $100. Labor and material costs can differ depending on where you live. 

In Closing – What Does Service Traction Control Mean 

Today’s vehicles are equipped with an array of standard safety features, and one of the most notable is traction control.

It prevents skidding, especially on slippery surfaces. The Service Traction Control light will turn on when it is not working. It can also be caused by certain factors, such as the following: 

  1. Steering angle sensor failure 
  2. Bad wheel speed sensor 
  3. Issues with the anti-lock braking system 
  4. Wiring damage 
  5. Unfavorable road conditions 
  6. Active limp mode 
  7. Failing steering rack 
  8. Weak battery 
  9. Programming issues 
  10. Faulty module 

In most instances, you can fix the problem by replacing faulty components causing the warning light to illuminate. Alternatively, the traction control system might also need reprogramming. It can be as simple as turning on the traction control button if you forget to do so.