What Does It Mean When the “ESC Light” Comes on While Driving?

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Driving is usually a smooth ride, but sometimes, unexpected things pop up—like the “ESC Light” on your dashboard. What’s that about, and what should you do when it happens? In this quick guide, we’ll break down what the “ESC Light” means and how to deal with it.

What Does the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) Light Mean

What Does the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) Light Mean?

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) Warning Light means there is a malfunction in Electronic Stability Control which allows the drivers to take control of the steering.

But sometimes, it tells us that the ESC system is working properly to maintain stability and traction control.

The ESC system detects the loss of traction and applies the brake automatically to reduce and stabilize the skidding. It allows the drivers to take control of the steering fully. Some advanced systems also control engine power to provide full control.

In simple terms, ESC can detect the problem of steering loss of the driver. It may happen due to hydroplaning or poorly judged turns. Sometimes, slippery roads cause the problem. The light tells you about the condition so you can drive safely.

what would cause the esc light to come on

Many reasons can trigger the warning lights. Let’s discuss the main reasons.

Loss of traction or wheel slip

The most common reason to trigger the warning light is loss of traction or wheel slip. One or multiple wheels may lose control when you drive on slippery roads. The system will be activated to give you proper control, and the light will turn on.

Oversteering and understeering

The system will be activated when it experiences oversteering (rear-end slipping out) or understeering (front-end sliding). This mostly happens when you turn or maneuver aggressively, triggering the light.

Malfunctioning sensor

The ESC system depends highly on the wheel speed and steering angle sensors. Both sensors work to identify the individual wheel movement and your intention for direction. If any of these sensors fail to work properly, it may trigger the light to indicate malfunction.

Faulty ESC control module

The control module works like a brain in the system. It collects the data from the sensor and activates the system based on the data and interpretation. If there is a problem with the module, it may trigger the light. It also works with the Anti-lock braking system. So the problem with the ABS can cause the warning light as well. 

Low battery

Since the system runs on battery power, having low power can sometimes trigger the light. However, it will be fixed once you charge the battery.

Remember that if the light shows up for a few seconds while turning or driving in slippery conditions, it is common. But if the light stays on longer while driving in normal conditions, you have problems with the system. Consult the mechanic as soon as possible.

How to reset ESC light?

Resetting or turning off the ESC light does not fix your problem with the system. However, if it is showing due to road conditions, you should reset it. Follow the steps below.

  • Press the ESC off the light.
  • Hold it for ten or more seconds.
  • Release it, and the light should be turned off.

If the light is still on, there is a problem with the system, and you should consult the mechanic.

⚠️ Get to know your dashboard Warning:
||“Traction Control System” (TCS) Light On What to Do?

is it safe to drive with the esc light on?

Driving with the esc light on is risky since the traction control is not working, especially on slippery or hazardous roads. You need to take full control of the vehicle steering. If you can do that, driving will be safe. But if you are unsure, slow down the car, drive safely, and fix the problem as soon as possible.

In terms of oversteer or understeer, the system senses the failure of steering and ensures proper traction. But without it, you will not have that opportunity. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that half of fatal accidents can be prevented with this technology. So you carry the risk of 50% accidents with the warning light on.

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