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Rock Sam

Rock Sam 1/21/2019

2016 BMW 535i Luxury 6 Cyl 3.00L


What is Traction Control and is it Safe to Drive With the Traction Control Light On?

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PartsAvatar Ca

PartsAvatar Ca 1/21/2019

What does TCS Light mean?

TCS Stands for "Traction Control System". The Traction Control System is controlling your wheels and make sure they do not slip on acceleration and on slippery surfaces. The most modern cars are equipped with the Traction control system. It's an updated version of the old LSD(Limited Slip Differential) system.

The traction control system is working together with the ABS(Anti-lock Braking System) and the engine control system. It monitors the speed of all your tires and if one wheel is slipping and rotating at another speed than the rest of the tire, the TCS system will reduce the engine power or slow down the other wheels with the ABS unit (Depending on the car model). It uses an ABS sensor and an ABS ring on each wheel to check the speed of each wheel. You can often find the TCS Light together with the ABS light because the systems are working together.

Possible causes of the TCS Light?

Flashing TCS Light on acceleration:

If your TCS Light is flashing on acceleration, it could mean that the surface is slippery and the wheels are spinning. Normally the TCS Light is flashing a lot when you are driving on snow/mud or ice. If your light is blinking and the engine is slowing down even if the surface is not slippery, there could be a problem with an ABS sensor on your vehicle. It could get the wrong values from one sensor and think the wheel is spinning but it's not.

Faulty Wheel Speed Sensor:

A set of wheel speed sensors at each wheel control the TCS and ABS (anti-lock brake system) to let your traction control computer know whether or not each wheel is rolling correctly or slipping in any way. Should the sensor detect slippage, it activates the TCS to reduce power to the affected wheel to let it regain traction, causing the light will engage for a short time.

A failing wheel speed sensor, or damages in its wiring, disrupts the connection between the wheel and TCS computer. This prevents the TCS working on that wheel, so the light will illuminate and stay lit until addressed. It may even turn on a "TCS off" light to indicate the system is not functioning.

Is it Safe to Drive with the TCS Light On?

It is only safe to drive with the TCS light on if it appears when you are losing traction: it means the system is engaging. Driving without traction control can make your vehicle susceptible to spinning out and sliding around on the road. It is best to keep your TCS in working condition and enabled in case hazardous weather pops up. This allows you to maintain control of your vehicle at all times.


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