Q: What is ESC?

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Randomly, and for no apparent reason that I can connect, my car will throw a "service ESC, service traction" warning on my dash. It never stays on long, but when it's on it disables my cruise control. It comes on sometimes right when I start my car, sometimes when I'm braking, sometimes just cruising down the highway-and in all weather conditions. Normally o don't notice anything different in the driving performance either. My husband mentioned once he was exiting left on the highway and it pulled really hard to the left, but that only happened that one time. So I can't seem to figure out if the code is happening for a reason or is a wiring issue? Is there anything specifically I should check or look out for?

My car has 113009 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

ESC stands for "Electronic Stability Control." This is a system in your car that works in conjunction with the ABS (anti-lock braking) system as the traction control system. The traction control system monitors the steering stability of the vehicle and engages when loss of traction has been detected. This is done by the use of electronic sensors that communicate with the Power Train Control Module (PCM) regarding steering performance and stability in adverse weather conditions. The traction control system works by reducing engine speed and determining which wheel to apply brake pressure to in order to prevent the vehicle from sliding. The anti-lock braking system and the traction control system work together to maintain the stability of the vehicle. The computer uses this information received from electronic sensors regarding the rotational speed of each wheel, the horizontal motion of the vehicle, and the vertical motion of the vehicle to determine how to direct the traction control system or the anti-lock braking system to best control the vehicle when needed. When this warning indicator light comes on in the dashboard, this could be an indication of several issues such as faulty wheel speed sensors, a faulty steering angle sensor, a faulty rotational speed sensor or a problem with the steering rack. In some cases, the traction control system may simply need to be reprogrammed. I would recommend having a professional from YourMechanic come to your location to properly diagnose your traction control system.

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