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What Does the TCS Light Mean? (Traction Control System)

In Brakes by Magnus Sellén20 Comments

tcs lightYou are starting your car one morning and suddenly a yellow light named “TCS” appears on your dashboard. What does it mean? Will my car get damaged if I keep driving?

How much will it cost to repair it?

There are a lot of questions that are going through your head. But don’t worry, in this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the TCS light and learn what to do if it appears and how much it can cost to fix it.

What does the TCS light mean?

TCS Stands for “traction control system”. The traction control system is controlling your wheels and makes sure they do not slip on acceleration and on slippery surfaces. Most modern cars are equipped with the traction control system. It’s an updated version of the old LSD (limited slip differential) system.

The traction control system works together with the ABS (anti-lock braking system) and the engine control system. It monitors the speed of all your tires and if one wheel is slipping and rotating at another speed than the rest of the tires, the TCS system will reduce the engine power or slow down the other wheels with the ABS unit (depending on the car model). It uses an ABS sensor and an ABS ring on each wheel to check the speed of each wheel. You can often find the TCS light together with the ABS light because the systems work together.

What are the possible causes of the TCS light?

To find the possible causes of the TCS light, you have to keep some conditions in mind before starting your troubleshooting.

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Blinking/flashing TCS light on acceleration

If your TCS light is flashing on acceleration, it could mean that the surface is slippery and the wheels are spinning.  Normally the TCS light flashes a lot when you are driving on snow/mud or ice. If your light is blinking and the engine is slowing down, even if the surface is not slippery, there could be a problem with an ABS sensor on your vehicle. It could get the wrong values from one sensor and think the wheel is spinning but it’s not. To solve this problem, you have to read the trouble codes from the ABS control unit to see which sensor is failing.
On some car models, like some Ford models, the light should be flashing for 3 seconds when you turn the ignition ON.

Constant TCS light with an”OFF” sign below

If your TCS Light is ON constantly and it has a sign “OFF” below it, it means that the TCS system is shut off. A lot of cars have an ON/OFF button for the TCS system inside the car. Stop your vehicle and press the button to put the TCS system ON. If you can’t find the button, check your service manual for the location of the button. If the problem still persists, there could be a problem in the system and you have to read the trouble codes to see if there are any stored trouble codes.

Constant TCS light

A constant TCS light, often together with the ABS light means that there is a problem with the traction control system and there is a trouble code stored in the ABS control unit. The easiest way to solve this is to read the trouble code and see what the trouble code is saying. To read the trouble codes, you have to use an OBD2 scanner. You could either let your mechanic workshop read the trouble code memory or do it yourself. Remember that most cheaper OBD2 scanners can only read the engine control unit. To read other control units, you may have to get a more advanced diagnostic scanner.

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abs light

Common causes of the TCS light

  • Failed ABS sensor (most common)
  • Bad ABS ring/magnetic ring
  • Water infiltration to ABS sensor connectors
  • Wiring issues to ABS control module
  • Wiring issues to ABS sensors
  • Steering position sensors
  • Failed ABS control unit (rare)

Is it dangerous to drive with the TCS light on?

When the TCS light is on, it means that the traction control system is not working and it will be shut off completely. This will make your wheels spin freely on acceleration or slippery surfaces and if you do not know about it, it can cause serious accidents. I always recommend repairing your traction control system as fast as possible. The TCS light can also be caused by engine problems in rare cases and it can damage other parts of your vehicle if you keep driving with your car.

If your ABS light is on together with the traction control light, it means that you have no anti-lock brakes on your vehicle, which can be really dangerous if you have to panic brake.

Summary

  • TCS Stands for “Traction Control System”.
  • The traction control light can often be found together with the ABS light
  • The TCS and ABS system work together
  • When the TCS light is on, the function is shut off
  • TCS problems are often caused by a failed ABS sensor
  • Always repair your traction control system problems as fast as possible.

If you have any other questions about the TCS light or want to tell us of how you repaired your vehicle, comment below and I will answer your questions as fast as possible. If you have any other car questions, you are welcome to ask them at our homepage.

If you want to find more about dashboard signs, you can check out the article Dashboard Warning Lights.

20 thoughts on “ What Does the TCS Light Mean? (Traction Control System) ”

Comments
  1. 2011 Hyundai sonata`both abs and traction control lights on . How to delete these light on the dash

    1. Author

      You have to use an OBD2 code scanner and read the trouble codes to see why the light is flashing! Check for any broken wheel bearings or ABS sensors. But the easiest way is to read the codes with a scanner!

      1. My TCS light and the check engine light went on. Then my Carr started smoking. What’s could this mean? I pulled over…

  2. Halo..I am having a problem with my jetta 4 bora my TLC light is on constant,in front is different tires sizes can it be the problem?

  3. My mazda cx3 shows the yellow sign TCS off. What to do. Can I drive my car or what can I do

  4. I WAS IN A CAR ACCIDENT WOULD THAT CAUSE TSC PROBLEM HAD IT CHECK REPLACE TRACTION LIGHT ABS CONTROL MODULE GOING TO TAKE BACK IT IS COMING ON AGAIN

  5. Pls my AbS ,TCS and airbag on ford focus 1999 model is constantly on no matter the kilometers u cover plus odd sound while driving. What do I do? my mechanic is doing more about it. Pls help me

  6. The TCS light goes on when I go on a bump in my parking lot also the light blinks on drive I would stop and shut the car off then start it and is good to go what’s goin on with it I got a 2002 Honda Acccord

  7. 2003 Infiniti i35 just shut off on me the TCS off n slip came on what does that mean?

  8. For a zillion years before ABS and Traction Control Systems, cars performed just fine. They perform better with both in many conditions but if you turn off the TCS (presume you have this option/switch) and drive normally, you can put off repairs indefinitely. Obviously getting it fixed sooner than later is preferred, but if cash is short and repairs cant be made immediately, breath easy – you are not permanently damaging your vehicle while continuing to drive it .

  9. So I woke up one morning and started my Toyota Odessy and started out of my driveway and my TCS light came on and then my motor light came on . it took it awhile to go into 1st. Gear and it would never go into any other gears. My son said it does need a new motor mount on one side. Can that cause this problem. Or what is causing this please help me. I just parked it in my garage.

  10. Dear Sirs,

    Thanks to help me in my problem,
    first off all my car is Skoda Octavia 2010,
    when i start the engine and don’t moved nothing happened and when i start to move like 100 meter to 200 meter the TCS error light only and the engine be not stable,
    when i check it by VCDS program and check the ABS system found the error go to engine and when i open the engine error found error number 17549 and if i check the site of this error found as follow
    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Meas. Blocks
    Special Notes
    Uwe: I think this code is set when the airflow being measured (or otherwise calculated) by the ECU doesn’t make sense given other operating parameters such as RPM and throttle opening, manifold pressure, etc.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    kindly help me

    Regards
    Ahmed Saied

  11. Ok if the traction control is off should I leave it off? I was trying to figure out what it was for or do when I push it.

  12. Hello Sir. Am driving a Nissan Quest 2005. Once I start the car The TCS Off And SLIP LIght On always and the Acceleration will not work without even moving the car .. pls I need help

  13. Great works you are doing . I uses hyundai XG 350 2003 model and I must say the tcs and abs lights are both on . The problem am having now is that I went out with car and I noticed my movement was coming and going . Later the car will just be raising and not movin while in drive position and same with the reverse gear. The gear oil was checked and ok so I just had to fill more to it but still not working . Please what do you advice me to do because the oil is not smelling burnt.

  14. My Nissan quest 2009 shows TCS and SLIP on the dashboard and the car just goes off and would not start easily or not start at all. Kindly assist.

  15. Due to a very high demand and high ammount of comments, you have to wait for some time for your car questions to get answered. If you want to get fast answers from a certified master technician you can ask your questions here:
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