ABS And Traction Control Light On – Meaning, Causes & Reset

When the ABS and traction control light on while driving, it can be concerning and confusing. This warning light is an indication of an issue with either the ABS or traction control system, both of which play an important role in maintaining safe driving conditions.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on what the ABS and traction control light means, the common causes of abs and traction control light on, and how to reset it.

Whether you’re a seasoned mechanic or a first-time car owner, this article will provide valuable information to keep you informed and prepared while on the road.

By understanding the ABS and traction control light, you can address any issues promptly, ensuring the safe operation of your vehicle.

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is a safety feature in vehicles designed to prevent wheels from locking up during hard braking, thus avoiding skidding and maintaining steering control. ABS works by continuously monitoring the speed of each wheel and rapidly pulsing the brakes to prevent them from locking.

The ABS system is made up of sensors at each wheel, a control module, and a pump that rapidly applies and releases pressure to the brakes. When the ABS system is triggered, the driver will feel a pulsing sensation in the brake pedal, indicating that the ABS is actively preventing the wheels from locking up.

ABS is especially important in slippery or wet conditions, where it can significantly reduce stopping distances and improve the driver’s ability to steer the vehicle.

Traction Control System (TCS)

The Traction Control System (TCS) is an advanced technology designed to improve a vehicle’s traction and stability. The TCS works by detecting the amount of traction each tire is receiving and, if necessary, reducing the engine power or applying the brakes to specific wheels to maintain maximum traction.

This helps the driver to maintain control of the vehicle in adverse driving conditions such as wet, icy, or slippery roads. The TCS also helps to reduce the risk of skidding and spinning out of control in these conditions.

The TCS is usually integrated with the ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and often uses sensors and electronic control modules to monitor the vehicle’s movements and adjust the power and braking as needed.

What Does ABS and Traction Control Light on mean?

When the ABS and Traction Control lights appear on your dashboard, it means that there is a problem with one or both of these systems.

ABS and TCS are both designed to help drivers maintain control of their vehicles, but they work differently. ABS helps prevent wheel lock-up during braking, while TCS helps maintain traction on slippery surfaces.

If either system is not functioning properly, a dashboard warning light will turn on, indicating that the ABS or TCS is disabled.

In some cases, the lights may appear together due to shared components between the two systems, such as wheel-speed sensors or control modules.

It’s important to address the issue promptly as ABS is a crucial safety feature, while TCS can be disabled without affecting the driving experience if necessary.

What Causes Of ABS And Traction Control Light On

Failure ABS Module

A failure in the ABS Module can cause both the ABS and TCL lights to come on.

Additionally, brake system malfunctions, such as an unresponsive brake pedal, can trigger the TCL light. These systems are interlinked and share the same control module and vehicle components, making it common for a malfunction in one system to affect the other.

If you notice either the ABS or TCL light illuminated on your dashboard, it’s important to have your vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic to diagnose and repair the issue to ensure the safety and proper operation of your vehicle.

Computer System Issues

The computer system in your vehicle plays a crucial role in the functioning of the Traction Control System (TCL). If the TCL light turns on and there are no external factors affecting the TCL, it is likely that there is an issue with the computer system.

This central computer, also known as the Powertrain Control Module (PCM), can develop errors or need to be reprogrammed to resolve any problems in its current programming.

When the TCL light is on and cannot be attributed to external factors, it is best to have the computer system inspected by a professional mechanic to identify and fix any issues.

Dirt, Mud, And Other Debris

The ABS and TCL warning lights can be triggered by dirt, mud, and other debris clogging the wheel speed sensors. Dirt and grime can also cause damage to the sensors, wires, and connectors, resulting in false signals to the control module.

To address this issue, it is recommended to clean the sensors and check for any visible damage. A pressure washer can be used to wash off surface dirt and debris, but if the sensor, wire, or connector is damaged, it will require repair or replacement by a professional mechanic.

Regular maintenance and cleaning of the sensors can help prevent this issue and ensure the safe and efficient functioning of the ABS and TCL systems.

Faulty Wheel Sensor

A faulty wheel speed sensor can cause the ABS and Traction Control Light (TCL) to come on. The wheel speed sensors monitor the rotation of each wheel and send signals to the ABS and TCL control module, which then adjust the brakes and engine power accordingly.

If a wheel speed sensor is not functioning properly, it can result in incorrect signals being sent to the ABS and TCL systems, causing the warning lights to come on.

Blown Fuse

A blown fuse can cause the ABS and Traction Control Light on. This is because a blown fuse can interrupt the electrical power supply to the ABS and TCL systems, causing them to malfunction.

If a fuse related to these systems has blown, it will need to be replaced to restore proper functionality. Driving with a blown fuse can result in reduced braking and handling capabilities, so it is important to address this issue as soon as possible to ensure the safety of your vehicle.

Faulty Steering Angle Sensor

A faulty Steering Angle Sensor (SAS) can cause the ABS and Traction Control Light to turn on. The SAS is responsible for measuring the angle of the steering wheel and sending this information to the vehicle’s computer.

When the SAS fails, the computer may not be able to accurately determine the direction of the vehicle, leading to activation of the ABS and TCL systems.

It is important to have the SAS repaired or replaced as soon as possible to restore proper ABS and TCL functionality.

Poor Wheel Alignment

Bad wheel alignment can cause the ABS and Traction Control lights to turn on. When the wheels are misaligned, the ABS system may detect a problem and activate the ABS light. Similarly, the TCL system may also activate if it detects a loss of traction.

The misaligned wheels can cause uneven tire wear and reduced handling capabilities, increasing the risk of an accident.

The solution to this issue is to have the wheel alignment inspected and corrected by a qualified mechanic. This will restore the proper operation of the ABS and TCL systems and improve the overall safety and handling of the vehicle.

Low Tire Pressure

Low tire pressure can cause the ABS and Traction Control Light to turn on. When tire pressure is low, it can affect the vehicle’s handling and stability, triggering the ABS and TCL systems to activate.

This is because the ABS and TCL systems monitor the speed of each wheel and detect changes in tire pressure, which can cause the wheels to spin at different rates and affect traction.

To solve this issue, check the tire pressure and inflate the tires to the recommended pressure level.

Low Brake Fluid Levels

Low brake fluid levels can cause the ABS and TCL lights to come on.

This happens because the ABS system relies on a sufficient level of brake fluid to function properly. When the brake fluid level is low, the ABS system may not be able to perform its functions effectively, causing the ABS light to illuminate.

The solution to this issue is to have the brake fluid levels checked and refilled as necessary.

If the low brake fluid levels are due to a leak in the brake system, it will also need to be repaired. Ignoring low brake fluid levels can lead to more serious and expensive problems in the future, so it is important to address this issue promptly.

A Weak Or Low-Voltage Battery

A weak or low-voltage battery can trigger ABS and Traction Control light on. Both systems rely on the Electronic Control Unit (ECU), which requires power.

If the car’s alternator is not working properly and the battery loses charge, it can cause an abrupt loss of power that sends incorrect signals to both systems, leading to the warning lights being illuminated.

It is important to regularly check the battery voltage and replace a weak or dead battery to ensure the proper functioning of the ABS and TCL systems and prevent other warning lights from coming on.

Traction Control Is Turned Off

The TCL warning light may be illuminated if the system is turned off manually, either intentionally or accidentally. This may occur when the vehicle is stuck in mud, ice, or other slippery conditions and the driver wants to be able to rock the car backwards and forwards to get unstuck.

To turn the TCL back on, locate the Turn Off button and activate it.

The warning light should then disappear from the dashboard, indicating that the TCL system is functioning properly and ready to provide traction control when needed.

Regularly checking the status of the TCL system and ensuring it is functioning correctly is important for safe driving.

How to Reset ABS and Traction Control Light

The ABS and TCL light can be reset by performing the following steps:

  1. Disconnect the battery: This will erase any trouble codes stored in the control module and reset the system.
  2. Reconnect the battery: Wait for a few minutes for the system to fully power up and initialize.
  3. Start the engine: Check if the ABS and TCL warning lights have gone out. If not, perform further diagnostics as outlined in the vehicle’s owner manual or take the vehicle to a mechanic or dealership for assistance.
  4. Drive the vehicle: If the lights stay off, test the ABS and TCL systems by applying the brakes firmly several times and making sudden steering inputs at low speeds.

Note: If the warning lights come back on after resetting, it is best to have the vehicle inspected and repaired by a professional.

How to Reset ABS and Traction Control Light With Tool

To reset ABS and Traction Control light with a tool, follow these steps:

To reset ABS (Anti-Lock Brake System) and Traction Control light with a tool, you need an OBD-II scan tool that is capable of communicating with the vehicle’s onboard computer.

Connect the scan tool to the vehicle’s diagnostic port, which is usually located under the dashboard near the steering column.

Once connected, turn the ignition on but do not start the engine.

Navigate the tool’s menu to select the ABS or Traction Control system, and follow the tool’s prompts to initiate the reset process. If the light remains on after the reset, repeat the process or consult the vehicle’s manual for further instructions.

It’s important to keep in mind that the process may vary depending on the scan tool and vehicle model.


Q: Is it Safe to Drive With ABS and Traction Control Light On?

A: Driving with ABS and traction control light on is not recommended as these systems are important for maintaining steering control and vehicle stability. It is advised to have the issue addressed by a professional mechanic.

Q: How Much Does It Cost To Fix A ABS and Traction Control Light On?

A: Cost to fix ABS and traction control light varies depending on the cause, vehicle, and location. Average cost is around $50-$1000. Get a quote from a mechanic.


So now you understand the meaning and causes of ABS And Traction Control Light on and also know that how to reset it.

It is important to address the warning lights as soon as possible. Ignoring them could result in a malfunctioning safety system, which may increase the risk of an accident while driving.

Therefore, it is recommended to have your vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic to ensure the ABS and Traction Control systems are working properly.