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In this day and age, most modern cars will have an integrated traction control system as part of their infrastructure. The traction control system in simple terms monitors the stability and steering performance of your vehicle. By keeping track of the ways in which your car grips the road and draws across its surface, this control system can find potential errors and fix them when needed.  It is an essential part of vehicle safety and enables you to maintain control when you drive.

When the traction control system is working efficiently and you are retaining control the light won’t come on, however, if it does you know that there is something that needs fixing. The light might be a flashing TC symbol, or a picture of a car losing control. It can usually be seen the dashboard cluster of your car.

In most cases the light will go on whilst you are accelerating. While this can be a little frightening, it’s important to remain calm and focus on driving slowly and getting to a place of safety where you can stop comfortably and call your mechanic. This system is ultimately created to ensure safety in difficult driving conditions like heavy rain, snow, ice, or badly paved roads.  Since all parts of your vehicle are connected the traction control light going on is usually indicative of a problem elsewhere, or with the computing system itself.

Below are some of the top reasons for your traction control system light coming on. When this happens it’s important to get the issue fixed by a certified mechanic who knows about TCS and your particular car.

Faulty Steering Angle Sensor

The steering angle sensor in your car is a super important system and is able to measure the position of your steering wheel and its rate of return. The sensor is housed within the steering column so that it can accurately gage position and angle of your steering. However, if this system is faulty and is unable to correctly compute information correctly, your traction control light might come on.

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A Broken Wheel Speed Sensor

Your wheel speed sensors are connected to the TLC system and the engine control unit and when it is working properly, they are in constant communication. The wheel speed sensors check how quickly your wheels are rotating and if something suddenly changes it will alert the TLC system. Each wheel has an individual sensor and any change will be communicated and the traction control system will fix the error. However, if there is a problem with the wheel speed sensors then this message will not be communicated, and your car will start to lose traction. When this happens the TC lights will illuminate and signal a problem.

Bad Conditions on the Road

When there are bad conditions on the road (like snow, heavy rain, potholes, storms, or ice) your TCS might not be able to efficiently handle them and the light might come on to indicate problems with your traction control. Unfortunately, in these situations there is not much that can be done. The best thing you can do is slow down and stop at a place of safety until the bad conditions subside. If they get really bad it is always best to call for help. Rather be late and safe, than not. When the road conditions improve your traction control system light should go off.

Problems with the Anti-lock Braking System

Sometimes the Anti-lock Braking System and the Traction Control System share the same internal diagnostics system and control module. Thus, if there is an issue with the ABS system the TC lights might come on to indicate a problem. If this is the case, you will have to get the ABS system checked out by a mechanic.

The ABS is super important for vehicle safety and if there is a fault you have to get it fixed swiftly. The Anti-lock Braking System stops your wheels from locking when you brake (which could cause damage and harm) and also stops your car from skidding as you drive.  If there is an issue with this system, it could lead to dangerous situations and thus it is always important to check it out.

Computer Issues with the TLC System

Sometimes the problem could be with the tracking control system computer system itself, rather than an external cause. If all other reasons have been ruled out, it’s time to fix the system itself to ensure that it is properly communicating with all the other parts of your vehicle.  Sometimes it will just need to be reprogrammed. Remember to always take your vehicle to a certified professional who is knowledgeable on your particular make and model.

The traction control system’s lights thus indicate problems with other parts of your vehicle, bad road conditions, or a problem with the internal computing itself. If you aren’t driving in bad conditions and the light keeps coming on it’s important to fix the problem quickly to avoid potential harm.

NB: Remember to get your car seen to by a professional if the traction control system is illuminating. While it might not cause serious damage to your car if the system is faulty, it can create safety hazards and could put you at risk when driving in snowy, rainy, or uneven road conditions. When it comes to vehicle safety, it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry!

Sources:

  1. Is it Safe to Drive With the Traction Control (TCS) Light On? – YourMechanic
  2. How Traction Control Works – HowStuffWorks

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