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Summary
  • The traction control switch is responsible for activating or deactivating traction control.
  • Some signs the traction control switch has developed issues include a lit traction control light, inconsistent brakes, and a stuck traction control switch.
  • It typically malfunctions when the wheel speed sensors don’t work properly.

Among the different parts of the traction control system (TCS), the switch is known to break easily. A faulty traction control switch can be dangerous, so it’s important to replace it right away.

What Are the Symptoms of a TCS Switch Failure?

If you think your traction control switch is broken, then there are a few symptoms you can look out for.

Illuminated Traction Control Light

An illuminated traction control light doesn’t always mean there’s an issue. It lights up for a few seconds after you start your vehicle. It also lights up whenever the sensors detect a wheel spinning too fast to let you know that you’re losing traction.  However, if it doesn’t turn off after a few seconds, then you might need to check your traction control switch.

A faulty switch might cause the TCS to deactivate, causing the warning lamp to stay on. It might be dangerous to drive without this safety feature, so it’s best to replace the switch as soon as possible.

close up shot of a traction control switch
The traction control system allows the ABS to control your vehicle’s wheel spin when accelerating, and also lowers the engine power to stop your wheels from skidding when driving on slippery roads.

Illuminated Check Engine Light

An illuminated check engine light can be a sign of a faulty TCS switch. In most cases, the traction control light will turn on with the check engine light. To diagnose the problem, use an OBD-II scanner to read the error codes. A P0856 or P0858 error code means there’s an issue with your traction control system. It could be the wirings, connectors, or the switch.

Inconsistent Brakes

Some traction control systems are very sensitive, which means they’ll most likely apply brakes at the first sign of a wheel slip. While this is an important safety feature, it can also leave you stuck in rutted snow or mud. This is why it might be best to turn off your TCS if you’re driving on or get stuck on a snowy road.

However, if your TCS switch is faulty, you most likely won’t be able to turn off the TCS even if you press down on the switch. This leaves your traction control running in the background, suddenly applying brakes and reducing power even when you don’t need it to.

Stuck Traction Control Switch

A faulty traction control switch might get stuck in the pressed position. If you accidentally spilled coffee on your console, some of the drink might seep into the spaces around the switch. This can cause it to get stuck. Sometimes, removing the button and cleaning it is enough to fix it. In some cases, you’ll have to completely replace the switch.

What Is Traction Control?

A traction control system is a safety feature you’ll find on all cars sold in the US from 2012 onwards. It allows the anti-lock braking system (ABS) to control your vehicle’s wheel spin when accelerating. It also lowers the engine power to stop your wheels from skidding when driving on slippery roads.

Imagine you’re driving on a slippery road at 30 mph. Suddenly, one of your wheels starts to spin faster at 50 mph. The traction control sensors will detect this. Then, it will apply brakes on the speeding wheel until it matches your driving speed. While this is happening, the traction control light will turn on.

On some vehicles, you might feel pedal pulsation as the traction control uses the ABS system to correct the slip, causing the ABS light to turn on as well.

You may also feel pedal pulsation as it uses the ABS system to attempt to correct the slip. ABS light may turn on as well.

Anthony Harlin, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

What Does the Traction Control Button Do?

In some cases, driving with the TCS on can be inconvenient. If you’re traveling up a steep hill, through deep snow, or are stuck in mud, driving with reduced power isn’t a good idea. Luckily, you can deactivate the TCS on most vehicles by clicking on the traction control button.

Also known as the traction deactivation switch, the traction control button is a switch that lets you control the TCS. The design varies depending on the vehicle’s make and model, but it usually has a small icon of a car with wavy lines underneath.

Keep in mind that not all vehicles deactivate TCS that easily. In some cases, it can be really hard to figure out how to turn off traction control. Consult your owner’s manual if this is the case for you too.

illuminated dashboard warning lights
A faulty switch might cause the TCS to deactivate, causing the warning lamp to stay on.

Other Traction Control Switch FAQ

What Causes the Traction Control to Malfunction?

In most cases, the TCS fails because of faulty wheel speed sensors. These sensors detect when one wheel is spinning faster than others. If they fail, your car’s traction control won’t know when to reduce power and apply brakes. Found on each wheel, TCS sensors are often exposed to the elements. Dirt, water, and other debris will naturally build up and cover them.

If the traction control warning light stays on, it could also be because of bad wires and connectors. Use a scanning tool to read the error code and determine the source of the problem.

What Happens if You Turn Off Traction Control While Driving?

Turning traction control off while driving can be dangerous. Because you’re used to driving with it on, driving with the TCS off will most likely feel strange. This can increase your risk of getting into a traffic accident or stuck in a slippery environment. Your vehicle can also oversteer or understeer with the TCS turned off. To keep yourself safe, only turn the TCS off when the situation calls for it.

How Much Does a TCS Button Replacement Cost?

It depends on several factors, such as your car’s make, model, and the product’s brand. In general, a traction control switch can cost you $20 to $100.

Finding a New Traction Control Switch for Your Vehicle

A bad traction control switch can get you in trouble, so it’s best to replace it sooner rather than later. Otherwise, you might have to deal with dangerous problems like unresponsive brakes. On the bright side, replacing your vehicle’s traction control switch is easy with the help of CarParts.com.

The best part? You don’t need to leave the comfort of your home to shop here at CarParts.com. Simply search for the part you need, use our vehicle selector to view traction control switches that fit your ride, and adjusts the filters to find the right replacement.

We have a wide array of traction control switches sourced from the most trusted manufacturers in the industry and available in competitive prices. Order today, and get your new part in a few days, thanks to our fast and reliable shipping.

Stay on top of your vehicular repairs by shopping for a replacement traction control switch here at CarParts.com.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Tony Harlin is a Master Gas and Diesel Diagnostic Technician with over 18 years of experience. He works full-time at a large independent automotive shop as a driveability and repair technician working on all types of vehicles with a focus on diesels. ASE certifications include A1-A9, L1 and L2, as well as X1.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : Suspension , DIY Tagged With :
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Sourdough

TCS on my 2021 F350 (with RV attached) is problematic in even a light crosswind or a mild rain shower it shuts down my cruise control and all my dash lights go off ; very inconvenient at best. Is their a cure or should I just shoot it?

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