What Does Esc off Mean?

Are you driving and you suddenly notice the ESC off warning light on your vehicle’s dashboard? Are you wondering what might have caused this and how you can fix the problem?

If you have trouble finding answers to these, look no further because we have the answers you need and more.

This article answers some of the questions you might have such as What does ESC off mean, What causes the ESC off light to come on, and How can this problem be fixed. We also guide you through step-by-step information on how you can fix this problem yourself.

Let’s get started!

The Esc off light typically appears in a vehicle as a result of only two reasons, which are;

  1. When the ESC has been manually turned off
  2. when an error has been detected in the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system.

ESC Light Meaning

The ESC light refers to the Electric Stability Control (ESC) indicator light. This system works in collaboration with your vehicle’s Traction Control System (TCS) to help drivers control their cars in emergencies.

Although they are sometimes referred to as the same thing, the two systems (ESC and TCS) are not the same thing. Instead, they work in tandem.

The Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system offers more features than the Traction Control System (TCS), such as helping the vehicle stay stable in under-steering or over-steering situations.

Despite the fact that the Electronic Stability Control system is integral to the Traction Control System, not every car with TCS also has an Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system.

What Does ESC Do?

The Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system help keep the vehicle stable while you drive. It prevents you from losing control of the vehicle while making tricky turns and subsequently causes the car not to go off course while performing maneuvers on the road.

The ESC helps lower the risk of skidding, but it doesn’t necessarily stop your car from rolling over.

It won’t apply hard braking or drive your vehicle automatically. Its job is to detect a possible loss of steering control and use light braking to the car to enable the driver to make proper turns while driving.

Also Read: Check Fuel Fill Inlet (Meaning, Causes & Fix)

ESC Off Light Causes

ESC Off Light Causes

There are many causes of the ESC off light being on, but the most common cause is either it has been turned off manually, or the wheel speed sensors are faulty.

But there could be other factors to consider when the light is on. Highlighted below are four main reasons your car’s ESC indicator might be on.

1. The ESC System Is Turned Off

The Electronic Stability Control (ESC) can be turned off manually as manufacturers install an override switch in most vehicles.

As the ESC system affects drifting professional drivers can turn it off, and doing this causes the ESC off light to come on.

Before taking your vehicle to the auto repair shop, you look up either from your vehicle’s manual or online how to turn the system on and off, and you should probably give it a try.

You may be amazed at how easy and cost-effective this would be compared to taking your vehicle to an auto repair shop.

2. Faulty Steering Angle Sensor

The steering angle sensor is a sub-system of the ESC as it measures the angle the steering is turned to and at the same time the direction of the vehicle as it moves and sends the info in real-time to the ESC’s primary control system.

As you make a turn, the wheels that face the direction you turn will spin more diminutive than the ones facing the opposite direction. This principle, of course, is standard.

Nevertheless, when the steering angle sensor malfunctions or does not provide accurate information that they turn is normal to the Engine Control Unit, the ESC will think that one side of the wheels is slipping, causing the ESC off light to come on.

The others, on the other hand, might have perfect traction, resulting in an uncalled intervention by the ESC.

3. Faulty Wheel Speed Sensors

If the ESC off light is one due to a problem that is from within the system, there is an excellent probability of a faulty speed sensor.

The vehicle’s ESC system works by monitoring the speed of each wheel and adjusting the breaks to compensate for any speed differences in individual wheels.

On the other hand, if one of the wheel speed sensors is faulty, then the ESC system will have problems causing the ESC off light to come on.

To tackle this, you need to verify that all the wheel speed sensors are working correctly by connecting a scan tool and taking note of the individual sensor’s speed while you drive.

4. Faulty Wiring/Electrical Problems

In this case, the sensors might be okay, but wrong or broken electrical connections between the Engine Control Unit (ECU) and the sensors could be the cause of the ESC off light.

Although wiring could rarely be the problem, it could still happen as some part of the wiring is exposed, especially at the wheels where you have the wheel speed sensors.

Finally, whenever you are checking the sensors, you should always look at the power and make sure that the battery cells are okay.

Funny story, though, This mechanic, at one time, spent almost twelve hours troubleshooting an ESC system that errantly activates at high speeds only to find out that the cause was a dead cell from the battery.

The vehicle started and all but brought up issues in the ESC system. To this day, I’m still puzzled as to how it all happened – but don’t ever forget to check the battery while troubleshooting.

Is It Safe to Drive When the ESC off light is on?

Is It Safe to Drive When the ESC off light is on

Driving with the ESC off indicator lights on is generally unsafe. If you’re going on a slippery road or maybe ice and the light comes on while you’re kidding, there is nothing to worry about since the system works.

However, if the ESC off indicator light comes on when it shouldn’t or is always on (that is, when you haven’t manually turned it off), it isn’t a safe condition for you to be driving in.

That’s because your ESC system regains stability and turns on your Automatic-lock Braking System (ABS), and applies the brakes to individual tires. This means while you drive on the road, your brakes can start pumping on and off – even if you’re moving 85mph down the highway.

So, while you may avoid any problems, having the ESC off lights come one while you’re driving might result in a fatal accident.

Also Read: Service Battery Charging System (Causes & Fix)

Related Questions – What Does ESC off Mean?

Is it safe to drive with ESC OFF?

In most cases, it’s safe to drive a vehicle with the ESC off, that is, unless you are going on a slippery or icy surface where you need the ESC’s assistance, but under normal road conditions, it’s unsafe.

What Does Turning Esc off Do?

The ESC is used in lightweight vehicles as it helps avoid crashes, which also minimizes road accidents by up to 6%. So driving with the ESC light on is like driving without seatbelts or disabling airbags which is a not-so-bright idea.

What causes ESC light to come on?

Vehicles with ESC installed on them have an indicator light on the dashboard. When the ESC light is on, it means that your car is probably not under control. And if the ESC light continues to stay on, it’s likely that the ESC has a malfunction or has been manually turned off.

Should I Turn Esc Off?

The ESC is vital as it helps steer your vehicle in extreme road conditions. It is not recommended for you to switch off your ESC. But if you are a professional driver that knows what you’re doing, you can turn it off.

What’s Service Esc Mean?

Typically, the service ESC light indicator light comes on when the car loses control and stays on when a fault has been detected, or the system has been manually disabled.

How Do You Fix the Esc Light?

Suppose the ESC indicator light is still on even after replacing the battery. In that case, all that’s left for you to do is to take the car out on a short test drive and make sure to perform several left and right turns so that the system does a quick self-check, and once that’s complete, the ESC light indicator is meant to turn off automatically.

Does ESC help in the snow?

The ESC is possibly the single and most important weapon used in the winter season to combat skids. Yes, it does. At least when used with the proper tires (winter tires). The fact is, you can’t get anywhere fast on a snow-covered or icy road, as the excessive spinning of your tires would slow down your car, which could result in a loss of steering control.

Conclusion

We can now see why the ESC is so important and the dangers associated with driving with the ESC off.

So if this is your first time knowing about the ESC off indicator, now you know where it is located, and you can troubleshoot the system if the ESC off lights are always on when it hasn’t been manually turned off.

And if you feel that you’re not up for the task of troubleshooting, you can always drop by an auto repair shop to get professional help.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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