14 Reasons Why Traction Control and Abs Light is On

The ABS and Traction Control lights can come on when your car needs maintenance or wants to draw your attention to something wrong. Most of the time, they are not serious, but you shouldn’t ignore them. Why would the light for the ABS and traction control come on?

When the ABS and Traction Control lights come on, it is usually because a wheel or speed sensor is broken or because the ABS module has stopped working. The ECU stores trouble codes that an OBDII scanner can read, but you need a technician to test these codes to figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it.

Here are 14 causes for the ABS and traction control lights to come on:

  1. ABS module malfunction
  2. Computer issues
  3. Damaged fuse
  4. Defective wheel speed sensor
  5. Low tire pressure
  6. Faulty steering angle sensor
  7. Low brake fluid
  8. Broken steering rack
  9. Faulty pump and valve
  10. Wheel misalignment
  11. Dirt and debris
  12. Low voltage
  13. Limp mode
  14. Disconnected Traction control

When one or both of the warning lights light up, you should be ready to do some diagnostics at home or take your car to an auto repair shop as soon as possible. This guide explains why the ABS and Traction Control light might come on, how to solve the problem, and when to call a mechanic. Keep reading to find out more.


14 Reasons why ABS and Traction Control Light Up?

To fix the problem, you must know why the warning lights are going off. In this section, I will talk about what could make the ABS and Traction Control Lights come on, with short descriptions for each (associated trouble codes stored in your vehicle’s PCM/ECM/ECU):

ABS module malfunction

This is the most common and simplest reason why one or both warning lights might be on. There is a chance that the ABS controller simply failed to function. A brake system issue, such as an unresponsive brake pedal, could also have triggered the Traction Control Light. Since the ABS and Traction Control systems use the same control module and car parts, it is bound to happen.

Computer issues

Your car’s central computer system takes over the Traction Control system, which is a vital part of how it works. So, if your Traction Control Light turns off and you can’t find anything else disrupting the Traction Control System, it’s likely a problem with the computer system itself. The central computer, or PCM, can get errors or need to be reprogrammed to fix problems with its configuration.

Damaged fuse

If your ABS light is on, it could mean that a fuse has blown or that a wire between the controller and the sensors in the system is broken. When your car’s computer finds this problem, the ABS Light comes on. If a fuse blows, the PCM gets the message and turns on both the ABS light and the Check Engine Light to let you know something is wrong. When this happens, you should have your car scanned for codes to help figure out what’s wrong.

Defective wheel speed sensor

When the wheel speed sensor fails, the ECU gets a wrong reading and turns on the ABS light. If you think this is why your ABS light is on, ensure you have enough brake fluid, your wheel speed is not broken or dirty, and all your tires are the same size. If you don’t do this, this problem will occur, and your ABS light will likely come on. If the brake fluid and tires are fine, check the codes in your car’s brake control module to determine what’s wrong. If you don’t have a computer device, hire a professional mechanic to scan it for you.

Low tire pressure

Your car has sensors that constantly send data to the ABS and Traction Control system on how fast the wheels are going. When one of your tires doesn’t have enough air, the ECU thinks you’re going too fast. It might send bad or wrong data to the ABS or Traction Control, which turns on its warning lights as a precaution.

Faulty steering angle sensor

The steering angle sensor is in the steering column and is needed to measure the steering wheel’s angle, position, and how quickly it moves back to its original position. If its wiring goes bad, it will mess up the connection between the computer for the Traction Control System and the wheel. This will make the computer unable to compute and process data correctly, which will cause the Traction Control Light to come on.

Low brake fluid

One of the most important parts of your car is the steering rack, which gets the high-pressure hydraulic fluid and makes it easy to turn the wheel. If this breaks, it will be hard for the driver to control the car, especially on rough terrain. Even though it doesn’t happen often, this is one place car owners might want to check if the Traction Control Light is on.

Broken steering rack

This pump and valve system work with the wheel-speed sensor in your car. When this system stops working, each wheel gets the wrong quantity of brake fluid pressure, which messes up the anti-lock mechanism. You may also see a red warning light when your regular brakes come on. This means that your brake fluid is leaking or your brakes are worn out. Either root problem needs to be looked at immediately and needs fixing.

Dirt and debris

Dusty and salted surfaces can corrupt the traction control system on your four-wheeler, preventing it from working properly. In turn, this turns on and keeps on the warning light. The only way to reset the Traction Control Light and get the system to work again is to clean it yourself or have it done by a carwash. If cleaning doesn’t help, go to a local auto shop or parts store and ask for help.

Low voltage

Low voltage or a weak battery can make other warning lights, like the ABS and Traction Control lights, come on. If your car’s alternator isn’t working right, it could cause the battery to lose power and the car to stop moving. And since both the ABS and the Traction Control System depend on the ECU, which requires power to work, a sudden loss of power could send the wrong signals to both systems, making their warning lights go off.

Limp mode

The limp mode, also called “limp home mode,” is a safety feature built into cars that turns on when it detects strange readings or a broken electrical or mechanical part. For example, your car starts to act up and do strange things. When these problems happen, your dashboard’s warning lights, like the ABS and Traction Control lights, come on. Your car’s extra features are turned off or turned down, and the speed, transmission, and RPM are limited.

Turned Off Traction control

You could have turned off Traction Control on purpose because you rarely drive on slippery roads, you could be stuck in deep snow or mud and not need Traction Control to get out, or you could have done it by accident. If the Traction Control is turned off, the warning light will come on in either case. If you turn it off on purpose, the warning light shouldn’t come on as a surprise. Look in your service manual for how to turn it back on. If that doesn’t work, call a professional.

Getting the Traction Control fixed isn’t as important as fixing the ABS, which is considered more important. But these problems shouldn’t be brushed aside. Some cars don’t have limited-slip differentials because they have Traction Control instead. When it’s turned off, it’s hard to keep the tires from slipping.

These problems can be stored in the PCM/ECM/ECU as a pending, confirmed, or permanent code. To read the code and figure out what’s wrong, you’d need a more advanced OBDII scanner. They could also set off just one or both of the warning lights.

How You Can Reset the ABS and TCS Light

After figuring out what caused the ABS and Traction Control Light to turn on and tackling the problem, you have to reset the lights to make sure that your car’s safety features are working and ready to go off if you skid or slip again. Here are the steps for turning each of the warning lights back on:

TCS Light

The Traction Control Light (TCS) will go off when the problem that caused it has been fixed. This is similar to how the CEL light works. If your TCS light is still on after a repair, drive the car for a few minutes to give the car’s computer enough data to confirm that the traction is fine.

Since you can manually turn off the Traction Control Light if you need to get out of deep snow or mud, don’t forget to turn it back on when you’re done. Also, keep in mind that the TCS light stays on even when the stability control system is turned off, so make sure the other feature is also on.

For the wheel-speed sensors to work properly, all wheels must be the same size and type. This will stop the wheels from spinning at different speeds, which could accidentally turn on the Traction Control Light.

Since your vehicle’s stability program is linked to the Traction Control System, driving too fast will always turn on the TCS light. The warning light will go away if you drive slowly and keep control of the car.

If the first four steps don’t work to turn off your car’s TCS light, use an OBDII scanner to check your car’s system and make sure nothing is wrong. Take your car to a professional technician for a thorough scan to get the best results.

ABS Light

Holding down the brake pedal while disconnecting the positive line from the car battery will drain the vehicle’s electrical system, which is necessary for resetting the central computer or PCM/ECM. To get power back, plug the positive cable back in.  If this step doesn’t turn off the light for good, it should go off within a week.

If the light turns on after you’ve done step 1, look for worn-out ABS sensors and replace them by unscrewing the housing on the wheel hub, unplugging the wire, and plugging in new sensors. After you finish this step, make sure to restart the computer.

If the light stays on after you’ve done the first two steps, connect an OBDII reader to your car’s diagnostics system to find out why the light is on. Keep in mind that other brake parts could be setting off the light and may need to be replaced or fixed.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix an ABS or TCS Light

Since there are many different reasons why your light comes on, it’s hard to say how much it will cost to fix. The diagnostic test that a mechanic needs to do can cost anywhere from $60 to $1,000. It depends on where you are and who you choose as your mechanic. With a make-specific OBDII scanner, you can see the problem. Most complex systems work with an app you have to put on your smartphone or mobile device.

Best TCS/ABS Code Readers

OBDII scanners that can read codes to find out why the ABS and Traction Control Lights are on can be very expensive and differ from code readers you can purchase for $30 or less. So, it makes perfect sense to buy an OBDII scanner that will offer you your money’s worth and can do many different things. The following is a list of my top 5 recommendations:

  1. Innova CarScan Pro 3100/3150e/5210/5610
  2. BlueDriver LSB2
  3. BAFX Products Car Diagnostic Tool
  4. Ancel AD310/ BD310
  5. Autel AutoLink AL539/AL319/ AL519/DS808


The ABS and Traction Control lights come on when the car’s computer or PCM detects a problem, like a broken wheel sensor or other mechanical failures. These warning lights don’t mean anything bad by themselves, but if the main brake light is also on, it could mean there’s a bigger problem.

The following is a list of 14 possible reasons for the traction control and ABS lights to come on:

  • ABS module malfunction
  • Computer issues
  • Damaged fuse
  • Defective wheel speed sensor
  • Low tire pressure
  • Faulty steering angle sensor
  • Low brake fluid
  • Broken steering rack
  • Faulty pump and valve
  • Wheel misalignment
  • Dirt and debris
  • Low voltage
  • Limp mode
  • Disconnected Traction control

Even if these lights come on while driving, you don’t need to worry because your car’s brakes will still work. Just ensure to slow down and brake gently, so you don’t cause the wheels to slip. Having your OBDII scanner on hand is one of the best ways to deal with this situation. This helps to pull codes, figure out what caused them, and turn off the ABS and TCS lights. But if you can’t turn off the warning lights, take your car to a mechanic for a thorough checkup and repair.