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Service traction system, service ESC

How to fix Service traction system, service ESC warning lights on a GM vehicle

If you get a service traction system warning light or service ESC warning light on your GM product, be aware that GM has issued several service bulletins to address the problem, depending on the year, make, model of your vehicle.

What does Service traction system, service ESC warning mean?

The traction control system monitors wheel rotation and detects when one

wheel is spinning faster or slower than the others. If the service traction controlwheel is spinning faster, that’s indication of slipping due to ice, snow, sand, etc. The traction control system then tries to correct the spinning situation by reducing power to that particular wheel or applying the brakes to that wheel in an effort to gain more traction. The warning light indicates a problem somewhere in the system. For example, if a wheel speed sensor fails or provides intermittent information, the traction control system will set a trouble code and disable the system since it can no longer rely on the data coming from all the wheels. Depending on the vehicle, the traction control system can initiate the shutdown of both the traction and stability control system and vice versa.

The service ESC refers to the vehicle’s stability control system. The stability control system monitors the vehicle’s actual direction as compared to the driver’s intended direction based on steering wheel inputs. For example, if you’re rounding a left curve and turn the steering wheel to the left, but the yaw sensor detects the vehicle moving to the right, it makes a determination that you’re in a skid condition and will reduce power and operate the brakes at each wheel to try and correct the vehicle direction. The electronic stability control (ESC) works in tandem with the traction control system, comparing wheel speed sensor data along with the steering wheel angle sensor and yaw sensor. A failure of any one of those sensor, will trigger the disabling of one or both systems and the setting of the Service traction system and service ESC warning lights.

How to fix Service traction system, service ESC warning messages

As I said earlier, GM has issued several service bulletins to correct the problem. One fix is to examine the magnetic ring on the wheel bearing to clean off any metallic debris that might

wheel bearing hub unit showing the magnetized speed sensor ring

Clean the Nitrile rubber ring

interfere with the wheel speed sensor’s ability to read a reliable wheel speed. See this post to understand that fix.

ABS light on, TRAC off, Stabilitrac

Another fix for Service traction system, service ESC warning messages on Chevrolet Malibu

GM has also developed new software to correct the problem. For example, GM Document 3512448 #PIC5878: Unexpected Stability Control Activation dated (Jun 24, 2013) Unexpected Stability Control Activation pertains to 2008 – 2012 Chevrolet Malibu

This bulletin addresses a situation where a Malibu owner notices a brief or intermittent ratcheting or grinding sound coming from the front of the vehicle when going 20-30-MPH through banked turns. The noise is generated by the ABS pump motor. This also may cause a flashing StabiliTrac light and throttle reduction.

Worse yet, even though the warning lights are activated, the system doesn’t store any trouble codes. You can duplicate the problem by driving at reasonable speed on slightly banked turns. This is caused because the ESC system is capable of detecting banked turns, and even though all sensors are working properly, the system thinks you’re in a skid situation.

GM warns dealers NOT to replace the braking or ABS systems to correct the problem. But they have issued a software fix (TIS2WEB), called a “calibration.” The update will eliminate the throttle reduction for banked turns.

©, 2016 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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