Most cars, especially the most recently manufactured ones, are fitted with several safety systems that help to ensure your safety in every situation and under any driving condition. The StabiliTrak system is one of those vital electronic systems.
The StabiliTrak system functions like the traction control system; however, they differ in functionality. These systems are represented by lights on your car’s dashboard; that is why you must understand the light that signifies traction control, as well as the one that indicates StabiliTrak.
If you suddenly discover that the StabiliTrak indicator displays on your car’s dashboard, understanding how to turn off StabiliTrak will help you handle the situation. Find out what StabiliTrak means, how it works, and how to turn off the system from this article.
What is StabiliTrak?
StabiliTrak, like a traction control system (TCS), is an electronic stability control system that helps prevent a car from experiencing loss of traction. It engages sensors in ascertaining the position of the steering wheel and the vehicle tires and comparing them such that they move in the direction intended by the driver.
Sometimes, you may have to drive under poor road conditions, like driving in snow or ice. In that case, you may find your car fishtailing. Once the system notices that your car’s tires are slipping and losing traction, the StabiliTrak engages to correct the vehicle’s direction by maneuvering.
StabiliTrak is quite different from a traction control system (TCS); Traction control simply reduces the power that is distributed to each of the wheels of your vehicle so that they don’t spin unnecessarily. It helps to correct a situation whereby a wheel spins faster than the others by reducing the power distributed to that wheel and engaging the others at the same level.
Meanwhile, StabiliTrak goes beyond traction control; it ensures that the car moves in the right direction according to the direction the steering wheels and tires are pointing towards, irrespective of whether the car is fishtailing in the wrong direction.
So, we can say; there’s no StabiliTrak without traction control, but there could be traction control without StabiliTrak.
How does StabiliTrak work?
StabiliTrak works uniquely beyond the functionality of traction control. The Electronic Stability Control (ESC), especially in the case of GM, is an electronic system that ensures that you and your vehicle are safe under any driving condition.
The StabiliTrak system uses a couple of sensors like the steering wheel position sensor, throttle position sensor, tire pressure monitor sensor, etc., to determine the position of your vehicle’s wheels and tires. Then, the system compares their positions with the direction you intend to navigate towards; so that the steering wheels, tires, and eventually, the vehicle moves in the actual path you are pointing towards.
For instance, if your car starts to fishtail when you are trying to get off a bad condition of being stuck in the snow, and the car seems to be moving right while you’re pointing the steering wheel and tires towards the left; StabiliTrak will release the brake on the car’s outside-front tire so that the vehicle can regain strength to get back on balance.
Why Does StabiliTrak Light Come On?
The service StabiliTrak light is one of the numerous lights fitted into your car’s dashboard to easily communicate a challenge that you need to fix as soon as possible. The StabiliTrak light may come on in case of any of the situations stated below.
- Old or defective spark plugs
- Faulty steering wheel position sensor
- Defective throttle position sensor
- E85 fuel
- Bad fuel pump
- ABS sensors
- Brake switch
- Engine misfires
- Lifter failure
- Active fuel management
There is a connection between the components or things stated above and your car’s StabiliTrak system. A defection in one or more of them can trigger the StabiliTrak light to come on speedily. Once the light comes on, it is your responsibility to find a way to turn it off.
If the light comes on automatically and all the components that could trigger its display are intact, you may have to engage the manual process of turning it off. But if it is due to one fault or the other, you will need to consult a professional auto mechanic to fix the problem.
How to Turn Off StabiliTrak in Different Cars
Sometimes, turning off StabiliTrak is best for you as you drive. If your car gets stuck in mud or snow, one of the best ways to get out of the situation is to turn off StabiliTrak. Since StabiliTrak reduces the power distributed to your car’s wheels, it may not be ideal in helping you out of such a situation.
Since your car would need more power to get out of certain obstacles, it would be helpful to turn off StabiliTrak for the moment. The following are some of the ways to turn off Stabilitrak in different vehicles.
If you drive a Toyota vehicle, it is pretty easy for you to turn off StabiliTrak because of the VSC button; simply engage the following steps.
Step 1: Press the VSC button and hold on to it for a short period of time (just a few seconds).
Step 2: Wait for the “VSC and TRAC disable message.” Once you press and hold the VSC button, it will disable the VSC and TRAC altogether. After that, your dashboard screen would display a VSC OFF, as well as a TRAC OFF message.
Ford vehicles have a different way of turning off StabiliTrak. If you own a Ford vehicle, you can follow the steps below.
Step 1: Identify the StabiliTrak sensor location.
The StabiliTrak sensor can usually be located beneath your car’s instrument panel. If not, check your car manufacturer’s manual.
Step 2: Press the traction control button.
Press the traction control button near your car’s steering wheel for a moment and release it once.
Step 3: Press and hold the traction control button.
After the first attempt, press and hold the traction control button for a few seconds for the second time. Then, the traction control will go off and disable StabiliTrak.
Dodge, Chrysler, and RAM
If you own or drive a Dodge, RAM, or Chrysler, turning off StabiliTrak is quite similar to all these vehicles. To turn off StabiliTrak, do the following.
Step 1: Press and hold the “ESC” button for a few seconds, between 5 to 10 seconds.
Step 2: Wait to hear the buzzer; ready. Then, you will see ESC OFF displayed in the instrument group.
Chevrolet and GMC
Chevrolet and GMC StabiliTrak can be disabled the same way. To do this, follow the steps outlined below.
Step 1: Press the button at the center through the button on your car’s mainboard.
Step 2: Press and hold the button for a few seconds until the traction control disables.
Step 3: Wait for the DIC message to display. This is common for GMC Sierra. If you own one, you would understand this part easily.
Step 4: Wait for StabiliTrak to turn off. After the display of the DIC message, wait some more until the StabiliTrak disables automatically.
Some other vehicle makes, and models may have their unique ways of turning off StabiliTrak. If you drive any of the cars outlined above, you have the steps explained above to help you turn off StabiliTrak in your vehicle.
However, if your vehicle is not listed among the ones above, kindly check your vehicle’s manufacturer’s manual to find out where the button that leads you to turn off traction control and StabiliTrak is located.
How do you reset a StabiliTrak system?
If you are having a challenge with your car’s StabiliTrak, and resetting the system seems to be your only way out of the situation, use the following steps to get the problem solved.
Step 1: Turn your car’s handwheel clockwise. If the system shuts off, your vehicle does not require repair. Otherwise, follow the subsequent steps.
Step 2: Turn your car off
Step 3: Wait for about 15 to 20 seconds.
Step 4: Turn your car on.
After going through the steps above, the display is supposed to go off, and when this happens, you may not have to go for any repairs. But if the message remains, you should contact a professional auto technician to help you fix the problem.
What causes StabiliTrak to come on?
The StabiliTrak warning light is one of the several indicators that pop off when there is a challenge with one or more of the components connected to your car’s wheels and its safety.
Some of the issues that trigger your car’s StabiliTrak to come on are; defective steering rack, bad wheel speed sensor, defective rotational speed sensor, bad steering angle sensor, etc.
If your car’s StabiliTrak warning indicator triggers on, it would be best to take your vehicle to the nearest auto mechanic to check out what could be wrong and fix it immediately.
Can I drive with the StabiliTrak light on?
It depends. It would be okay to drive your car when the StabiliTrak light is on in a situation whereby you are losing traction as you drive; It is an indicator that the system is correctly engaging.
When you drive your vehicle without traction control, it will result in your car being susceptible to its wheels spinning out, as well as sliding unnecessarily. Ensure to pay attention to the StabiliTrak indicator in your vehicle to find out why it triggers on.
What does it mean when it says StabiliTrak?
StabiliTrak, especially in General Motors (GM), is referred to as Electronic Stability Control (ESC). It is a safety measure for cars that helps ensure that the anti-lock brakes are applied to slipping wheels in driving under poor road conditions, such as in snow or ice.
The brakes help reduce the slippage on the slipping wheels and distribute power to the non-slipping wheels to ensure a balance that allows you to keep moving on.
Can StabiliTrak cause a car to stall?
The straight and simple answer is “Yes!” StabiliTrak can make your car stall in a situation whereby the stability control system is malfunctioning.
For instance, if your get into a situation where your car starts fishtailing under a bad road condition and the stability control system cannot function properly to get the vehicle through the obstacle, your car may not have sufficient power to scale through the problem; therefore, it may stall and eventually go off in a moment.
Understanding how to turn off StabiliTrak will save you the stress of worrying and thinking of what to do when you suddenly find your car stuck under a bad road condition like snow, ice, or mud.
The traction control system (TCS) and StabiliTrak play vital roles in your safety while driving, but you may have to disable them in some cases so that you can get through certain obstacles. Diverse ways of turning off StabiliTrak have been discussed in this article.
Ensure to engage the method recommended for your vehicle to successfully turn off StabiliTrak in your car when the need arises for you to do so.