The Traction Control System (TCS) in your vehicle is responsible for helping your vehicle maintain control by assisting with road grip in slippery conditions. If a wheel loses traction, the TCS will automatically engage to keep your car stable and headed in the direction you intend.
It works by using the same components as your Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) providing you with an extra margin of error which increases your safety. The system operates through a computer and a complex network of sensors, all of which must work properly to allow the system to do its job.
Unlike many other warning lights, the TCS warning light may illuminate to let you know the system has engaged and is working to keep you safe. However, if it comes on during normal driving conditions, it is most likely there is a fault of some sort in the system. This should be taken seriously and taken in for testing as this is an important safety system and should not be ignored.
There are many reasons that the warning light may come on in normal driving conditions such as a defective wheel speed sensor (part of the ABS system), and electrical failure or even a computer failure. Regardless, it should be repaired to keep you, your loved ones, and other motorists safe.
There are times when it may be in your best interest to turn off the TCS system such as when you may become stuck in mud or sand. You’ll want to turn off the system in order to let the wheels spin and generate some grip. This will allow you to rock the car back and forth gently by shifting between drive and reverse repeatedly. If done correctly, you’ll be able to build enough momentum to free yourself from a potentially expensive tow truck request to winch you out of your predicament.