A faulty wheel speed sensor is the main culprit that causes the traction control light to come on and shake your car. If this sensor is defective, it sends the wrong signals to the ECU. As a result, the TCL comes on.
Besides, worn-out tires, wrong tire sizes, and problems with the ABS system are other culprits behind car shaking and traction control light issues. Luckily, we will break down each caveat that turns on the traction control light. So, keep reading.
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Traction Control Light On And Car Shaking [5 Easy Solutions]
If you don’t know the underlying reasons behind car shaking and the come-on of traction control lights, stick with this chapter till the end.
1. Faulty Wheel Speed Sensor
Wheel speed sensors are part of the traction control system. They detect the rotation speed of every wheel and the sensors produce a signal that ties in with the wheel speed.
Then, the ABS system uses the signal to determine whether a wheel is locking up or not during different driving conditions.
When a driver needs to brake instantly, pressure is released immediately in the brake system to prevent the vehicle from skidding. As a result, it will decrease the skidding distance which reduces the risk of getting into an accident.
If the wheel speed sensor is at fault, the abs light and the traction light will come on and abs may stop working. It could cause the front wheel to lock up during instant braking.
Road debris, open or shorted wires, brake dust, and broken trigger wheel teeth are the culprits that prevent the speed sensor from functioning.
Excessive rust may cause the metal to stick to the magnetic wheel speed sensor and foreign objects from the road hits and cause damage to the sensor.
Therefore, a wheel speed sensor can easily get damaged during the replacement of suspension components. For example, the wheel speed sensor may get faulty during strut replacement.
It happens because of the dropping motion of the strut when it becomes detached from the suspension.
This will cause the sensor wires to stretch and damage the wires. Consequently, the computer will lose communication with the wheel speed sensor.
Remove each wheel and check the wheel speed sensor carefully. Don’t forget to inspect the sensor and trigger wheel for dirt and debris. If there is dust and dirt, use water to clean and wipe with a dry shop rag.
Next, check for rust or brake dirt accumulation on the sensor. In this case, you should remove the sensor and clean the dirt buildup. Afterward, turn off the ABS light with a scan tool.
If the wheel speed sensor gets damaged, you must replace it with a new one. Now, you can ask- how can I understand which wheel speed sensor is at fault? Then, the following video will help you determine the sensor that gets bad:
We recommend you hire a certified mechanic to replace the damaged wheel speed sensor.
2. Wrong Size Tires
Apart from a faulty wheel speed sensor, installing the wrong size tires can also cause the traction control light to come on. If you install incorrect tires, it will not deliver the traction your vehicle requires or slips away from their places.
As a result, the wheel speed sensors deliver intermittent signals to the ECO, which lockups the wheels and turns the traction control light on.
Ensure all the tires you install have the same size. Also, make sure all the tire sizes match the original tire size. We recommend you bring your car to a mechanic to install the tires professionally.
3. Worn Out Tires
Yes, it’s true that worn tires cause the traction light to come on because one of the tires has lost its traction. The worn-out tire will spin faster than others by 10 to 15%.
And you know all the vehicles with ABS systems have sensors on every wheel. As a tire rotates faster than others, the wheel sensors will deliver wrong signals to the ECU, which causes the traction light to come on.
You should never drive a car with a worn-out tire. Otherwise, you could encounter a dangerous situation. Whenever you notice one of the tires gets worn out, replace it with the right size of tire that matches the original tire.
4. Issues With ABS System
The working principles of The ABS system and the Traction Control System are the same. That’s why if there is a problem with the ABS system, the TCS light will come on.
If the ABS control module is at fault, other similar options like TCS and stability control won’t work. Moisture, corrosion, and other external factors cause the ABS system to fail.
Before replacing the ABS control module, use an OBD2 scanner tool to determine whether it’s a problem with the ABS system or the wheel speed sensor. If it identifies a problem with the ABS system, you need to replace the ABS control module.
We recommend you leave this task for a professional if you are not mechanically inclined. Otherwise, you can do this by yourself to reduce the replacement cost. In this case, the following tutorial will help you:
5. Faulty Spark Plugs
In some cases, a faulty spark plug can cause the traction control light to come on. You will encounter this issue especially when the spark plugs cause misfires.
If the spark plugs get worn out or you install them improperly, they will misfire and encourage the traction control light to come on in rare cases.
Make sure the spark plugs are intact and don’t get damaged. If they wear out, you must replace the spark plug. Otherwise, you should check the wheel speed sensor or the ABS control module.
Is It Bad If Your Traction Control Light Comes On
It carries both good news and bad if the traction control light comes on. If the TCL is on, understand your car is working fine by maintaining proper traction on a slippery road surface.
And the bad part is- the traction control light indicates there is a problem with the wheel speed sensor or its wiring.
To keep you on the safe side, you must inspect your vehicle to figure out what causes the traction light to come on. Fortunately, we already mentioned what causes the TCL to come on and how you can deal with those issues.
Alternatively, you can take your car to a professional mechanic to inspect your car professionally.
2 More Traction Control Light-Related Problems
You can also encounter the following traction control light issues apart from those we mentioned above.
1. Traction Control Light On & Car Won’t Start
If you face this issue, we bet the traction control module is at fault. When your vehicle won’t start or it shuts off, the module takes time to reset it.
It allows you to drive your vehicle until the module detects the problem again. Once the traction control module identifies the issue, it will shut off your car.
We highly recommend you bring your car to a professional if the control module is at fault. Basic knowledge of cars will not help you fix this issue.
2. Traction Control Light On & Car Won’t Accelerate
Traction control greatly affects acceleration. It will let you drive your car slowly, not quickly.
Some people mistakenly think the traction control system will help keep your wheels on the ground and go quicker. But the reality is- that traction control limits the power to your wheels and slows down your car.
Every time your car shakes and the traction control light is on, you must deal with the issue immediately. Otherwise, you will encounter dangerous situations while driving your car with this problem.
So, follow the troubleshooting steps we mentioned to figure out the reason behind this problem and solve it. If you fail to fix this traction light issue, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional mechanic.
About John M
John contributed as a technical head at an automobile company just 2 years after his post-graduation in Automobile Engineering. He loves to lead a free life, so he left his job & started blogging. Now, he does research on every automotive problem, part & product and seeks a better solution & best products & shares his findings with his readers to help them as well as to minimize their struggle.