If you’re driving and the traction control light on your car’s dash begins to flash, it can be worrying. What does it mean? Is something wrong with your car?
When the traction control (TC) light flashes or remains on, it means your tires are losing contact with the road. Wet, icy, or dirty road conditions may cause a vehicle to lose traction, activating the traction control system to stabilize the vehicle and illuminating the TC light as a warning.
The good news is that in most cases, an illuminated traction control light simply means that the vehicles traction sensors are working correctly. The sensors have detected that the vehicle is losing traction with the road, and reduces power to the tire that is slipping.
This shift of power from the tire that’s slipping to the tires that are still successfully gripping the road allows you to safely continue driving in the right direction.
Without the traction-control system, you would run the risk of hydroplaning or skidding off the road.
Rest assured, if the TC light flashes intermittently then the system is working properly.
However, if the TC light is illuminated and stays on, then their could be a problem with the traction control system. Your car has a computer that monitors the vehicles systems to make sure they are functioning properly, and may of detected a problem.
Let’s dive more into the traction control system, and what you should do if you see a TC car light.
What to Do When You See A Flashing Traction Control Light
If you see a flashing traction control light, don’t panic. The TC system detects slippery road conditions, and is making adjustments in real-time to keep you safely on the road.
Take care of yourself by listening for any signals from your vehicle when driving on harsh winter roads – especially if the TC light is flashing on and off intermittently.
A flashing traction control light can be worrying if you don’t know what it means. However, in most cases, drive cautiously and the light will turn off as soon as the vehicle detects stable traction.
Can Low Tire Pressure Cause My TC Light To Come On?
Generally speaking, low tire pressure can cause your car’s traction control light to come on. If one or more of your tires is low on air, it will allow the center of the tread to collapse – becoming concave and trapping water rather than flowing it through the tread design. This results in hydroplaning.
Sudden temperature changes or a car sitting for long periods can cause loss of air pressure.
When your tires are properly inflated, they have better contact with the road, which gives you better traction.
However, if your tire pressure is low and you see a solid TC light, then this could be due to an issue with a bad wheel sensor.
To check for a bad wheel sensor, turn your car off and back on after a few minutes. Watch to see if the TC light comes on and then goes off when restarting the car. If it does, you do not have a bad wheel sensor.
However, if the TC light stays on after restarting the vehicle, the you may have a bad wheel sensor. Make an appointment at your local mechanic to have it looked at.
A bad wheel sensor also will trip the ABS warning light at the same time too, so keep an eye on that.
Also, check to make sure the TC system isn’t turned off. Most cars have a traction control button on the dash.
What Causes A TC Light To Stay On?
There are a few different reasons why your traction control light to stay lit. One possibility is that the system has been turned off by accident.
Most cars have a button to turn off traction system. It’s possible that this button was turned off accidentally. In this case, the TC light will turn off once you turn the system back on.
Another possibility for a solid or flashing traction system light is an issue with one of the sensors. If a sensor is dirty or damaged, it may not be sending accurate information to the car’s computer.
Is It Safe To Turn Off The Traction Control?
There may be times when you might want to turn off the TC system. For instance, if the vehicle is stuck in the snow or mud. Or the vehicle is parked over a patch of ice.
By turning off the traction control system, both wheels will receive equal power from the drive train. This makes it easier to dislodge from snow or mud, or get just enough traction to move off of an ice patch.
How Do I Turn Off Traction Control?
Look for a button showing a picture of a car with wavy lines underneath. Press this button to turn off the TC system. You should see a steady yellow light on the dash indicating the TC is off.
Can Worn Tires Cause Traction Control Lights To Come On?
Absolutely – worn tires are the main reason for a flashing traction control light. Because tires that are worn and have little tread depth, will slip while you try to accelerate.
Traction Control FAQs
Can Bad Alignment Cause Traction Control Light To Come On?
A bad alignment may trigger the traction control light to come on, as the vehicle is trying to adjust for traction.
Fact is, incorrect wheel alignment affects the overall stability of the car. If the traction control light comes and stays on for a while, this could mean you need an alignment.
Can You Drive With Traction Control Light On?
Generally it’s safe to drive with the traction control light on, but only when the roads are dry. Just make sure you turn the TCS back on before driving in rainy or snowy conditions.
But keep in mind, if the TC light is on due to a mechanical problem, you should have a mechanic test the traction system as soon as possible.
Because a lingering TC light means there is a problem, and the system will not engage properly putting you in danger of potential car accident.
The next time you’re driving on a slippery surface and TC light flashes, don’t panic! It means the system is working properly and will help you maintain control of your car. Just remember to keep calm and keep driving in the direction you were going.
A flashing traction control light can be worrying if you don’t know what it means. However, in most cases, it’s nothing to be concerned about and will resolve itself shortly.
However, if the light remains on after restarting your car or doesn’t go off after inflating your tires to their proper pressure, then you may have a more serious issue and should take your car to a mechanic to have it diagnosed.