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When warning lights and messages pop up on your dashboard, they usually indicate a problem with at least one system in your vehicle.

A lot of these warning lights (e.g., check engine light and oil pressure warning light) are standard in most vehicles regardless of their year, make, and model. There are, however, some lights that you’ll only find in specific makes.

General Motors (GM) and Chevrolet vehicles, for example, have a “service StabiliTrak” message that can pop up under certain conditions.

A Closer Look at Chevy and GM’s StabiliTrak Feature

Before we talk about the meaning behind the service StabiliTrak message, let’s take a closer look at how this feature works.

The StabiliTrak system is GM’s enhanced version of the electronic stability control (ESC) system. Both rely on steering inputs to restore vehicle stability if the driver is unable to control the vehicle.

Generally, the StabiliTrak feature will operate under two conditions: oversteering and understeering.

Oversteering occurs when the vehicle is driven on a curve at extreme speeds. Under this condition, the vehicle can spin out of control, so StabiliTrak or the ESC system will engage one of the brakes (usually the right front brake) to correct the path.

Meanwhile, understeering occurs when the vehicle runs out of traction while making a turn. Under this condition, the ESC system or StabiliTrak will engage the right rear brakes to restore stability.

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How Does StabiliTrak Work?

StabiliTrak is designed to operate under conditions that have low traction, such as slippery roads and snow-filled streets.

StabiliTrak uses the steering wheel position sensor to check if the steering wheel and tires are aligned with the vehicle’s intended path.

If the system notices that the vehicle isn’t traversing its intended path, StabiliTrak will reduce engine power and apply brakes to individual wheels. This will help the driver regain control of the steering wheel.

What Does the Service StabiliTrak Message Mean?

An illuminated StabiliTrak service light means that the system will most likely be disabled until the issue is resolved. In short,  you won’t get any assistance from StabiliTrak when driving under low-traction conditions.

The message can appear for many reasons, including the following:

Can You Drive With a Service StabiliTrak Message on Your Dash?

Yes. GM and Chevy vehicles can run fine without it.

However, keep in mind that warning messages pop up for a reason, and you shouldn’t leave one unaddressed for too long.

A disabled StabiliTrak increases the risk of your vehicle spinning out of control when it loses traction, so be sure to resolve this problem as soon as possible.

Effects of Driving With a Disabled StabiliTrak System

If your vehicle’s StabiliTrak system has been disabled, you might notice the following changes.

Reduced Stability

The main purpose of StabiliTrak is to help drivers maintain vehicle control. If the system is disabled, you might have trouble driving your car on a straight path and notice increased body rolls when turning.

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Frequent Activation of the ABS

You might notice that the ABS is activated more frequently than normal if the StabiliTrak system is disabled. This is usually characterized by a pulsating brake pedal.

An activated ABS system whenever the wheel is turned is indicative of faulty front wheel bearings. This is a common issue found in GM vehicles. A play in the steering wheel can activate the ABS system without other issues.

An activated ABS system whenever the wheel is turned is indicative of faulty front wheel bearings.

Anthony Harlin, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

Performance Issues

Decreased engine performance is also a common consequence of a disabled StabiliTrak system. This is more of a safety precaution than an engine problem.

You might also experience some difficulty in turning or steering without StabiliTrak.

How to Reset the Service StabiliTrak Light

Before trying to reset the service StabiliTrak light on your own, make sure that all system issues have been resolved. Resetting the service message without fixing the problem will only cause the warning to recur.

But if you’re sure that the problem has been fixed and the warning is still on your dash, here’s how you can reset the message without using a scan tool.

Shut off the engine and disconnect the battery. Disconnect the negative terminal first.

Wait for a few minutes to let any residual electrical charge dissipate before reconnecting the battery.

Upon starting the engine, some systems will perform a self-check, which should turn off the service StabiliTrak light.

Common Issues With StabiliTrak

Before GM’s StabiliTrak established itself as one of the most efficient ESC systems out there, it faced a couple of controversies about its reliability.

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In 2020, a class action lawsuit was filed against General Motors due to claims that the StabiliTrak system in several 2010-2016 Chevy Impalas and 2014-2016 Impala Limiteds was faulty.

The plaintiffs argued that the faulty system caused their vehicles to pull to one side, jerk, stall, and lose power. They claimed that the issue was because of a bad wheel speed sensor wiring harness and that the automaker knew about the defect but ignored it.

After looking into the case, the presiding judge found that the issues were actually found in some 2007-2009 Impalas. Most of the complaints were vague or didn’t include symptoms that point to a faulty StabiliTrak system.

The judge later ruled that GM didn’t know about the defect, dismissing the case with prejudice.

This case, however, wasn’t the first instance StabiliTrak was deemed faulty.

In 2012, a service StabiliTrak warning message appeared on several models for no reason. These models included the Chevy Silverado and Equinox; the GMC Acadia, Sierra, Savana, and Canyon; and the Buick Enclave, Cadillac Escalade, and Cadillac SRX.

There were also complaints from some owners about the StabiliTrak message appearing on the dash within the first 5,000 miles their vehicles were driven.

Unfortunately, the issue remained unresolved even after replacing the steering angle sensor, which was deemed the reason behind the issue, according to dealerships.

About The Authors
Anthony Harlin, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician
Reviewed By Anthony Harlin, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

Technical Reviewer at

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.

CarParts Research Team
Written By Research Team

Automotive and Tech Writers

The 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's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

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.

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