Modern vehicles come equipped with numerous features and warning systems to ensure the safety and proper functioning of the vehicle. One such feature, primarily found in GM vehicles, is the StabiliTrak system.
This advanced technology is designed to assist drivers in maintaining control of their vehicles, especially in slippery and challenging driving conditions.
However, like any sophisticated system, it is normal for StabiliTrak lights to illuminate. This light indicates the requirement for attention or a reset.
If you receive this alert in your vehicle, you must understand what it means and how to reset it.
In this article, I have explained the StabiliTrak warning light’s meaning, causes, symptoms, and resetting method.
What is the StabiliTrak System?
The StabiliTrak system is a proprietary electronic stability control (ESC) system developed by General Motors (GM).
It monitors and controls the vehicle’s brakes, traction control, and engine torque to help maintain vehicle stability and prevent rollovers.
The system uses different sensors to measure the vehicle’s speed, yaw rate, steering angle, and individual wheel speeds.
If the system detects a loss of control, it can automatically apply brake pressure to individual wheels and reduce engine torque to assist the driver in regaining control.
The StabiliTrak system is a standard feature on all GM vehicles and is considered to be one of the most effective ESC systems on the market.
According to some studies, the ESC systems can reduce fatal rollovers by up to 80%.
What Does the StabiliTrak Light Mean?
The StabiliTrak light is a warning indicator that illuminates when the StabiliTrak system detects a malfunction.
It is an electronic stability control system that controls vehicle stability and prevents rollovers.
When the warning light illuminates, it indicates that either the system is actively working to restore vehicle stability or a serious problem with the system requires attention.
However, if the light remains steady, it indicates that something is wrong with the system, and it must be repaired or reset as soon as possible.
What Causes the StabiliTrak Light to Come On?
There are several problems that can cause the StabiliTrak light to come on.
The following are the most common causes of StabiliTrak light illumination:
1. Throttle Position Sensor (TPS)
This sensor monitors the position of the throttle.
If the TPS is faulty, it sends the wrong data to the StabiliTrak system.
Therefore, StabiliTrak malfunctions and causes the warning light to illuminate.
Symptoms of a Faulty Throttle Position Sensor
- Decreased power
- Hesitation during acceleration
- Uneven idle
- Reduced fuel economy
- Check engine light or StabiliTrak warning light on
2. Faulty ABS Sensor
This sensor controls and monitors the rotational speed of each wheel.
If an ABS sensor is faulty, it causes the system to malfunction.
As a result, the system illuminates the StabiliTrak warning light.
Symptoms of a Faulty ABS Sensor
- The ABS warning light illuminates on the dashboard.
- Increased stopping distances
- Loss of stability control or traction control
3. Faulty Wheel Speed Sensor
This sensor monitors the rotational speed of each wheel.
When the sensor becomes faulty, it sends incorrect data to the StabiliTrak system and causes the warning light to illuminate.
Symptoms of a Faulty Wheel Speed Sensor
- The traction control system does not work properly.
- Illuminating ABS light
- The speedometer does not work correctly.
- ABS does not work properly.
- The brake pedal pulsates when braking.
4. Faulty Steering Wheel Position Sensor
This sensor monitors the position of the steering wheel.
The failure of the steering wheel position sensor can also cause the warning light to illuminate.
Symptoms of a Faulty Steering Wheel Position Sensor
- Illuminated traction control light.
- The steering wheel feels loose or unresponsive.
- The electronic stability control system does not work.
5. Faulty Brake Switch
The brake switch signals when the brakes are applied.
If the brake switch is faulty, it causes miscommunication with the system and causes the warning light to illuminate.
Symptoms of a Faulty Brake Switch
- Brake lights don’t come on when pressing the brake pedal.
- Cruise control doesn’t work.
- Brake lights stay on all the time.
- In some cases, the StabiliTrak warning light illuminates.
6. Faulty StabilTrak Control Module
If the StabiliTrak control module fails, it causes a variety of problems.
When StabiliTrak problems occur, the system illuminates the StabiliTrak warning light.
Symptoms of a Faulty StabiliTrak Control Module
- The service StabiliTrak light is on.
- The vehicle is skidding or losing control more easily than usual.
- Reduced engine power.
- The traction system is not working correctly.
7. Problems in the Active Fuel Management System (AFM)
The AFM is a system that deactivates half of the engine’s cylinders when they are not needed.
Typically, it helps to improve fuel economy.
But in some cases, this can cause problems with the StabiliTrak system.
This is because AFM can cause the engine to run rough and lead to vibration.
The StabiliTrak system takes the vibration as a malfunction and illuminates the warning light.
8. Using E85 Fuel
E85 fuel contains 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol.
Although E85 fuel is used in many vehicles, it can sometimes cause problems with the StabiliTrak system.
This is because the E85 fuel sometimes causes the engine to run leaner, leading to misfires.
As a result, the StabiliTrak system illuminates the warning light.
These are the leading causes for the StabiliTrak warning light to illuminate.
However, electrical malfunctions, software issues, traction control malfunctions, low brake fluid, and wiring problems can also cause the warning light to illuminate.
Here is a video that demonstrates how low brake fluid activates the StabiliTrak light:
How to Reset Service StabiliTrak Light?
To turn off the StabiliTrak warning light, you can press the gas pedal, use a diagnostic tool, or turn the steering wheel in the appropriate direction. These are the three primary methods.
Let’s discuss these methods.
Method 1: Pressing the Gas Pedal
Follow the steps given below to reset the StabiliTrak warning light:
- Make sure the vehicle is turned off.
- After a few minutes, turn the key “On” by inserting the key.
- Don’t start the engine yet.
- Now, within 3–4 seconds, press the gas pedal four or five times.
- If the warning light turns off, it means the system has been reset.
In this case, you do not need any repairs and can usually drive your vehicle.
Method 2: By Turning the Steering Wheel
This method mostly works on GM vehicles but is not guaranteed to work on other vehicles.
The steps are as follows:
- Park the vehicle in a safe location and turn it off.
- Turn the steering wheel all the way anticlockwise or left.
- Wait 20–30 seconds, then start the vehicle.
The warning light should turn off.
Method 3: Using a Diagnostic Tool
You can use an OBD-II scanner to reset the warning light.
Here are 6 steps:
- Connect the OBD-II scanner to your vehicle.
- Turn on the ignition.
- Ensure that you only turn on the ignition, not the engine.
- Now, access the StabiliTrak system by following the scanner’s instructions.
- After accessing the system, select the “reset codes” or “erase codes” option and reset it.
- Restart the vehicle and verify whether the service StabiliTrak light is off or not.
Disconnecting and reconnecting negative battery cables can also reset the warning light.
These resetting methods work on almost all vehicles, including GM, Ford, Toyota, Hyundai, etc.
Note: Resetting the service StabiliTrak light does not address the underlying issue that is causing the malfunction.
So, if the warning light appears repeatedly, you must identify the exact problem and fix it, or you can take your vehicle to a repair shop to address the problem.
How to Fix Service StabiliTrak Light?
If the Service StabiliTrak warning light returns frequently after a reset, it indicates a serious problem that requires professional repair.
In this case, you must find out the exact problem and solve it to fix the warning light.
First, check the brake fluid level and fill it if it is lower than the required level.
If the brake fluid is at the correct level, you should consider other necessary components that could be causing the warning light.
The most common underlying issues that can cause the StabiliTrak light to come on include:
- Throttle position sensor and its body assembly
- ABS sensor
- Faulty wheel speed sensors
- Faulty steering wheel position sensors
- Faulty brake switch
- Faulty traction control module
- Incorrect tire pressure
- Issues with active fuel management
- Electronic and wiring problems
To diagnose and address the sensor and other internal issues, you should take your vehicle to a professional mechanic.
The mechanic can use specialized technologies to identify the faulty sensor quickly.
This will save you time too.
If any sensor is faulty, replacing it is the best option to avoid further issues.
Stop using E85 fuel in your vehicle.
Follow the owner’s manual when choosing fuel for your vehicle.
The video below may provide you with additional information to help you fix the StabiliTrak problem in your Chevrolet vehicle:
How to Prevent Service StabiliTrak Warning Light?
Follow the given instructions to avoid the StabiliTrak warning light from coming on:
1. Keep Tires Properly Inflated: Low tire pressure causes the StabiliTrak to malfunction and illuminates the warning light. So, check regularly and keep the tire pressure at the recommended level. You can follow your owner’s manual for tire pressure. However, I recommend keeping the tire pressure 1-2 psi higher than the recommendation to get the best performance.
2. Check and Service the Brakes Regularly: Worn or damaged brakes cause the warning light to illuminate. So, inspect and service the brakes regularly.
3. Keep the Vehicle Properly Aligned: A misaligned vehicle can also cause the StabiliTrak system to malfunction and illuminate the warning light. So, check the vehicle’s alignment regularly, especially after any major repairs or modifications.
4. Keep the Software Updated: Sometimes, the software problem causes the warning light to illuminate. So, update the software to the latest version to avoid the problem.
5. Avoid Driving in Hazardous Conditions: Driving in hazardous conditions, such as snow, ice, and rain, typically increases the risk of the StabiliTrak system malfunctioning. If possible, avoid driving in risky conditions altogether.
6. Ensure Regular Maintenance: Regular maintenance keeps your vehicle’s internal components operating at peak efficiency. Therefore, problems like the service StabiliTrak warning light cannot occur.
In addition, avoid aggressive driving, sudden changes in direction, and heavy DIY modifications to prevent StabiliTrak warning lights.
How Much Does It Cost to Fix Service StabiliTrak?
The cost to fix a service the StabiliTrak warning light problem depends on the underlying cause of the problem.
Generally, most repairs will cost between $100 and $250.
To give you an idea of how much it costs to reset the StabiliTrak warning light, here are some examples:
- Faulty wheel speed sensor: $220-$260
- Faulty steering wheel position sensor: $170-$210
- Faulty brake light switch: $60-$120
- Software problems: $100-$200
- Throttle position sensor: $150-$500
- Low tire pressure: free to fix
Note that these are the estimated costs, but actual costs may change depending on your vehicle’s make and model, the repair shop’s location, and the problem’s severity.
Can I Drive with StabiliTrak Light On?
I don’t recommend driving with the StabiliTrak light on.
StabiliTrak is an electronic stability control system that assists in maintaining vehicle stability and preventing rollovers.
If the StabiliTrak light stays on, it means the system is not functioning properly and cannot provide assistance in the event of a skid or loss of control.
In this case, driving short distances with the warning light on is okay, but planning for long trips or driving in challenging conditions is not recommended.
The service StabiliTrak light is a warning indicator that should not be ignored.
If the light comes on repeatedly, even after resetting, it is important to identify and resolve the underlying issue.
If the problem is serious, you should have it serviced by a professional mechanic.
Driving with a faulty StabiliTrak system is risky because the faulty system is unable to assist in the event of a skid or loss of control. For a trouble-free driving experience, follow the StabiliTrak warning light prevention tips mentioned above.