What is Traction Control?
Traction control uses wheel speed sensors to detect when one driven wheel is spinning faster than the other wheels. In this condition, the ABS activates on the slipping wheel to slow its speed. Once the slipping wheel slows down, it is able to grip the road again and the brake on that corner of the vehicle is released.
Sometimes, the ECU will also reduce engine torque in addition to using the ABS system to apply the brakes.
1) Bad Wheel Speed Sensors
Wheel speed sensors are connected to your traction control system and engine control unit. These sensors are responsible for detecting the speed in which your wheels are rotating. Each wheel has its own sensor.
If the rotation speed of any wheel changes unexpectedly or unusually as you’re accelerating, the wheel speed sensors will detect the change and notify the traction control system.
But if the wheel speed sensors are not working, the traction control system will not be notified. Then your vehicle will lose traction, causing the traction control light to come on.
2) Bad Steering Angle Sensor
The steering angle sensor calculates the angle of the steering wheel and the rate in which it is being turned. The sensor is positioned in the steering column so that it can track the angle and rate precisely.
This sensor is typically used by the stability control system to detect the direction the driver intends to go. If the sensor goes bad, you can expect the traction control light to come on.
You may notice stability control issues with a bad clock spring.
3) Bad Road Conditions
If the road conditions are too severe, your traction control system may not be able to handle it. For instance, if you live in a location with a lot of snow and ice on the ground, then the roads are going to be difficult to maintain traction on.
If the traction gets to be too difficult, then your traction control light may illuminate on the dashboard. There isn’t much you can do other than getting your vehicle to a better area with safer roads.
Consider buying winter tires if you don’t have them installed already. Winter tires are much better suited for slick road conditions than your standard all season tire. If you have the space, you can buy a second set of wheels and swap them over whenever you need to.
4) Bad Steering Rack
The steering rack is attached to your steering wheel and is an important part of the power steering system. It receives the high-pressure hydraulic fluid that is necessary for making it easy to turn the steering wheel.
Part of having good traction is having smooth steering that is easy to control. So, if you have a bad steering rack, it will be harder to steer your vehicle on a rough road. This will cause your traction control light to possibly come on.
5) Programming Issues
There may be a circumstance where the traction control system must be reprogrammed because it is having issues with its current programming. Sometimes these programming errors can happen as time goes on. Other times they are a result of a manufacturer defect or oversight.
If the traction control system ever has this problem, the traction control light will come on. Only a certified mechanic who specializes in your make and model vehicle will be able to fix the programming issues.