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3 Things You Must Know About Your Car’s Electronic Stability Control Light

Updated: May 14, 2022

Oct. 30, 2021


What Is Electronic Stability Control?

Electronic stability control (ESC) is a revolutionary technology available in newer cars. It helps keep a vehicle headed in the right direction, and ultimately, reduces the risk of accidents and collisions due to oversteering or understeering.

What does ESC do?

ESC helps prevent a car from “spinning out” or “plowing out” due to the loss of road traction.

Spinning out, also referred to as oversteering, occurs when a driver enters a curve in which the curve is too extreme based on a car’s speed. In this instance, the driver may lose control of the vehicle, and the vehicle spins out of control.

Comparatively, plowing out, sometimes called understeering, can occur when a driver enters a curve while accelerating or braking, and the front wheels loose control due to reduced traction from ice, oil, or other road conditions. In any of these scenarios, a driver needs to correct understeering, or an accident or collision may occur.

ESC automatically applies brakes to individual wheels of your car, thereby preventing your vehicle from spinning out or plowing out. The technology cannot increase road traction, but it helps you keep your car under control during extreme maneuvers.


What Is ESC in a Car?

If your car has ESC, you may not even know the technology is in place. ESC works quickly, and as such, you may not feel the need to correct your steering when driving.

With ESC, speed sensors are in place on each wheel of your car. ESC also ensures that individual wheels of your vehicle can brake as needed.

In addition, ESC features a control unit that tracks your car’s steering wheel angle, along with rotation around your vehicle’s vertical axis. The control unit collects steering and rotation information, so it knows the direction in which you’re traveling. If the unit detects that your car is about to travel in a direction that differs from the one indicated by your steering wheel’s position, it automatically brakes the appropriate wheel of your vehicle. The result: you’re better equipped to maintain control of your car and avoid a spin out or plow out.

What Does Electronic Stability Control Do?

ESC helps you keep your car stable. It reduces the risk of losing control of your car when you make sharp turns or perform emergency steering maneuvers.

Although ESC can help lower your risk of spin outs and plow outs, it won’t necessarily stop your car from rolling over. It also won’t apply hard braking or steer your vehicle automatically.


What Happens If My Electronic Stability Control Light Stays On?

Typically, cars that have ESC have an indicator light on the dashboard. If the ESC indicator light switches on while you’re driving, it may mean one of several things.

In some instances, the ESC light switches on if your car is actively trying to maintain traction control. If the ESC light stays on, it means your vehicle is not under control. And if the ESC light stays on for an extended period of time, your ESC may be malfunctioning, or the system has been manually deactivated.

A malfunctioning ESC will stop working until any issues are fixed. If your ESC was manually deactivated, there is a button in your car that you can use to reactivate it. If you’re unsure about where this button is located in your vehicle, consult your owner’s manual.

Of course, if your ESC light turns on, you can keep driving your car. Keep in mind, however, that the ESC light may be an indicator that you are driving on a slippery road, and you may need to slow down to improve your control. And if you’re dealing with an ESC defect, you should bring your car to an auto shop to correct the issue as soon as possible.

Your Car’s Electronic Stability Control Light: 3 Things You Need to Know

If you’re driving your car and your vehicle’s ESC light is off, your ESC is working correctly. But you still need to know how to manage your car’s ESC properly. So, here are three things you need to know about your car’s ESC that will help you do just that.

1. There is a direct correlation between your car’s ESC and its anti-lock braking system (ABS).

ABS helps prevent your car’s wheels from locking up so you can steer your vehicle to safety in an emergency. Like any car’s braking system, ABS must be monitored and maintained regularly. If you encounter any issues with your car’s ABS, they may impact your vehicle’s ESC, too. Thus, if you have your ABS repaired, ensure your ESC is evaluated at the same time. This allows you to keep your ABS and ESC working in combination with one another when you drive.

2. ESC works most effectively when your car’s tires are properly inflated.

Underinflated or overinflated tires can impact your car’s ability to grip the road. They can also affect the performance of your car’s ESC. Generally, it helps to check your car’s tire pressure at least once a month. You can find the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle either printed on a sticker in your vehicle’s driver-side door jamb or your owner’s manual.

3. ESC is a requirement for all new cars.

If you purchased a car produced after Sept. 1, 2011, your vehicle comes equipped with ESC. Furthermore, ESC remains a requirement for all new vehicles.

Finally, ESC is a helpful technology, but you always need to prioritize safe driving, regardless of road or weather conditions. If you follow the rules of the road, you can limit the risk of spin outs, plow outs, and rollovers that can lead to accidents and collisions.

If you have any questions or concerns about the ESC system in your car, contact Hosea at Embury Mobile Mechanics or call 1(242)359-7231.

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