The vehicle computer not only monitors the brake system and airbags, but it also helps move power from one tire to another in all-wheel-drive vehicles. For example, in an all-wheel drive vehicle, let’s say you become stuck in sand, mud, ice or snow and are trying to get out. One of your wheels is usually stuck worse than the others—it’s spinning but not getting any traction. The traction control system will move the power from the wheel that is spinning to a wheel that is not since the non-spinning wheel has greater traction. The traction control system allows power to be transferred so that you can gain traction, have greater control and get out of a situation where you may normally remain stuck.
Traction control also works during acceleration. An example of acceleration mode is when you turn a corner and the weight of the car shifts from one side to the other. The traction control system is going to move the power to the wheels with the best traction.
The Traction Control warning light will typically have the abbreviation TC or TCS. Many other models will use a symbol that looks like a car with squiggly lines underneath it. Many traction control systems will illuminate the warning light when the system detects a loss of traction such as in snowy or rainy weather. Typically, the light comes on when the system kicks in to maintain traction. It’s a good idea to read the section in your vehicle’s owner’s manual to familiarize yourself with how your traction or stability system operates so that you are not startled or confused when it illuminates.
As with any warning lights that come on, it is important that you seek professional assistance as soon as practical. If you are traveling and the weather is good, the need is not immediate in most cases. However, you do not want to place yourself in a situation where an accident could have been avoided but a warning light was ignored for too long.
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