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Is it Safe to Drive With the Traction Control (TCS) Light On?

TCS Light

The traction control system (TCS) helps a driver maintain control and stability of the vehicle if it loses grip and starts to skid or slide. The TCS automatically senses when a wheel loses traction at any time, and can be triggered automatically as soon as this is detected. Loss of traction most commonly occurs in ice or snow, so the TCS shifts power from the wheel that is slipping to the wheels that are still gripping the pavement well.

There are different cases for your TCS Light to come on. When you discover that the TCS Light is on, here are some things to look for:

  • Some TCS Lights come on when there is rainy or snowy weather and then goes away. When this happens, it means the system is activated due to low-traction road conditions (ice, snow, or rain) and is assisting the vehicle with maintaining traction. TCS intervention can be so subtle you might barely notice it. It is a good idea to read the owner’s manual that came with your car to ensure you know how your TCS works, and so you know what to expect in these conditions. The most important thing to remember here is that the TCS Light is coming on, and often flickering on and off while it's activated, means the system is functioning properly.

  • If the TCS light comes on once and goes away, there may not be a problem. The TCS may not be operating like it should, but it is not bad enough that the Light is fully illuminated at all times. Or you may have momentarily hit a slick or wet spot on the road. Keep an eye on the Light and if it begins to flash when you clearly have traction, it's recommended you get a mechanic to inspect the traction control system. It's always better to have a small repair done sooner than a more extensive repair completed if and when the system fails completely.

  • If the TCS Light comes on and stays on without flickering, or if your vehicle has a TCS Light that reads "TCS off" and stays on, it means the system is no longer working. If there is adverse weather, there will be no traction control available. When this happens, make sure to use extra caution while driving. Once you get to your destination, contact a mechanic so they can inspect and repair your traction control system. Note that some vehicles allow you to manually turn traction control off, in which case the "TCS Off" Light will also illuminate. Only experienced drivers should do this at their own risk, as it greatly increases the likelihood that the car will skid or slide.

  • Driving without traction control can make your vehicle susceptible to spinning out and you could possibly slide around on the road. It is best to keep your TCS in working condition and enabled in case hazardous weather pops up. This allows you to maintain control of your vehicle at all times.

Driving with your TCS Light on can be dangerous as you have an increased potential of losing control of your vehicle. The TCS helps control the stability and traction of your vehicle, so without it, the vehicle may not handle like it should. If your TCS Light remains on, your safest measure is to have a certified mechanic from YourMechanic, come visit you for a traction control system inspection and TCS module replacement if necessary.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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