Service StabiliTrak Message [Causes and How to Fix]

You’re not alone if you’re unsure what “Service StabiliTrak” means and what it entails for your car.

The Service StabiliTrak warning on your dashboard shows that the StabiliTrak System, a type of traction control that comes as a standard safety measure in all cars, has malfunctioned. An input sensor, a malfunctioning controller, or a broken connection are all possible causes of the Service StabiliTrak message.

The StabiliTrak System’s on-and-off process and underlying issues differ from model to model and vehicle to vehicle.

Read on to know more about StabiliTrak and what you can do if your dash displays the Service StabiliTrak warning.

What Is StabiliTrak? Service StabiliTrak Overview

service stabilitrak

The Service StabiliTrak message shows that the StabiliTrak System, a type of traction control found in all cars as a standard safety feature, has malfunctioned. Some of the possible causes are as follows:

  • An input sensor, 
  • A malfunctioning or faulty controller, or 
  • A bad connection. 

The StabiliTrak System’s underlying issues and on-and-off processes may differ among vehicles.

It’s crucial to understand StabiliTrak’s role in driving and overall safety before we begin to untangle the meaning behind the Service StabiliTrak message.

StabiliTrak is originally given to General Motors’ Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system, which is a sort of traction control and standard safety feature present in all GM vehicles. Since then, the term “StabiliTrak” has come to apply to the traction control systems (TCS) found in a variety of vehicles, including Toyota, Ford, Chevrolet, and Volkswagen.

The TCS recognizes whether a car’s wheel is slipping and whether to apply the anti-lock brakes to the slipping slide using a sensor or a series of sensors. The vehicle’s power is subsequently shifted to the non-slipping side, allowing the driver to continue driving.

It’s important to understand that while all Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems are a type of traction control, not all traction control systems (TCS) are ESC systems. The sole purpose of traction control systems is to keep the wheels from spinning.

ESC systems, on the other hand, can actively change the steering of the vehicle.

GM Service StabiliTrak

For example, GM’s StabiliTrak uses the brakes to limit wheel slip and modify the direction of the vehicle. It can even pinpoint the precise moment when the driver lost control of the vehicle.

Because of this early detection, the system can quickly combine engine power and brake pressure to avoid an accident.

Chevy Service StabiliTrak 

Chevrolet’s StabiliTrak system, on the other hand, is controlled by a steering wheel position sensor. This sensor compares the position of the steering wheel to the actual steering response of the vehicle.

Depending on what the Chevrolet StabiliTrak system detects, you can adjust the brake or engine torque. This way, the driver maintains control of the vehicle and keeps it on the road.

The easiest way to check GM cars’ electronic control system, including the Service StabiliTrak message, is by using a car diagnostic tool. Take a look at the FOXWELL NT510 Elite OBD2 Car Code Reader on Amazon to see its great reviews and price: 

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Why Does StabiliTrak in Action Matters?

StabiliTrak’s significance in keeping drivers safe is sometimes underrated, but it takes the spotlight in unfavorable roads and bad weather, especially in winter. When driving on ice or snow, the risk of losing traction when turning around a corner is significantly higher.

The driver may attempt to move the vehicle in a specific direction, but the vehicle doesn’t follow through. StabiliTrak and other ESC systems come to the rescue. StabiliTrak detects the attempt, applies brakes to the wheels that require them, and the car comes to a halt.

When StabiliTrak detects oversteering in a Chevrolet car, it applies brakes to each wheel individually if needed. The outer front brake is then used by StabiliTrak to get your vehicle back on track.

When StabiliTrak detects understeering, it engages the inside rear brake. As a result, the car is aimed in the correct direction.

Because StabiliTrak detects and responds faster than most drivers, the system has the potential to literally save lives. This claim is backed up by evidence. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in 2015 that the vehicles’ ESC systems could save roughly 1,949 lives.

All cars made after 2012 must include a traction control system as a standard safety feature, according to federal regulations. That way, you may rest assured that your trip through dead woods and snowy landscapes will be safe.

But what happens if the StabiliTrak system malfunctions? What proof do we have? The Service StabiliTrak message comes into play at this point.

The Service StabiliTrak Message Is Not Just a Simple Error 

The StabiliTrak sensor is usually faulty when the Service StabiliTrak message appears. However, the Service StabiliTrak message could be caused by something else in some cases.

The flashing StabiliTrak light, sometimes, maybe accompanied by the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) or the traction control (TRAC) warning light. When those lights come on, it means the ABS and TRAC systems have been disabled as well. Therefore, you’ll need to adjust your driving style accordingly.

Service StabiliTrak Message vs. StabiliTrak Initializing Message

Not all StabiliTrak-related messages, however, are doom and gloom. These two messages may appear to be identical at first glance, but be cautious! The implications are extremely different.

The StabiliTrak Initializing Message

To begin with, the StabiliTrak Initializing message is a common occurrence. This is most likely due to your vehicle’s StabiliTrak system failing to initialize. The reasons for this can range from incorrect tire size to poor road conditions.

You shouldn’t be concerned if the Service StabiliTrak message appears on your dashboard. Your automobile is fine. Persistent StabiliTrak Initializing messages, on the other hand, could be a symptom of an underlying problem.

It is advised to take your vehicle to the nearest service center or auto dealer in your area in this scenario.

The Service StabiliTrak Message

A Service StabiliTrak message, however, indicates that something is wrong with your vehicle. Sometimes, a simple power cycle may be enough. You can pull over and turn off your engine if you own a Chevrolet. Wait for around fifteen (15) seconds before restarting your car.

Feel free to cruise and ride if the message has disappeared. Otherwise, you should probably look for a service center in your area.

The Service StabiliTrak message, on the other hand, has no clear cause. The following section discusses the most common causes of the Service StabiliTrak message on your dashboard.

The Most Common Causes of the Service StabiliTrak Message  

1. Input Sensor

The Service StabiliTrak message shows on your dashboard for a variety of reasons. It’s possible that the malfunctioning sensors are for wheel speed, steering angle, or rotational speed.

A simple and quick replacement of the faulty sensor in your vehicle model at your nearest service center should suffice.

what is service stabilitrak

2. Malfunctioning or Faulty Controller

A damaged powertrain control module (PCM) could be to blame in this scenario. When each wheel’s electronic sensors communicate with the PCM about stability and steering performance, the StabiliTrak system works. This is especially critical in inclement weather.

3. Bad Connection

A damaged GM-LAN communication line can cause the Service StabiliTrak connection to fail. A GM-LAN communication line, a plastic-covered bundle of wire that reaches all the way to the transmission, is standard on all GM vehicles.

In order to protect the wiring and sensitive transmission components, a heat shield is fastened to the transmission.

However, as the plastic cover ages and is exposed to heat for an extended period of time, it might become brittle and break away. The GM-LAN communication line is thus vulnerable. A section of the GM-LAN line may also be pushed against the heat shield, causing the plastic cover over the wire to partially melt.

Body Control computer communication, as well as the StabiliTrak System, can be disrupted by the GM-LAN wire grounding. Although the Service StabiliTrak message might show for a variety of reasons, wiring and grounding issues could be another possible cause.

Fixing a Faulty StabiliTrak

How do you fix StabiliTrak?

A malfunction is indicated by a StabiliTrak message. A basic power cycle of your vehicle’s engine can sometimes fix a StabiliTrak:

  • Pull over and turn off your car;
  • Wait for at least 20 seconds;
  • The message should be gone when you restart the car; and
  • If it isn’t, seek servicing.

To learn another approach to fix the Service StabiliTrak message, watch the video below by Kickin’ it with Lalo. On GM 07-13 vehicles, his method works. In this video, Lalo shows how he used a 24-inch Duralast DW424B Switch to the Starter Battery cable as a quick and inexpensive fix:

StabiliTrak Is Better Turned Off Sometimes

Though StabiliTrak or traction controls act as safety features, they do so at the expense of performance. When you and your vehicle are in a particularly sticky circumstance, reduced power may not be ideal.

No one likes to be caught in the middle of a snowstorm or on a muddy hill, for example. An extra boost is sometimes the best method to escape out of an icy and murky hell. Depending on the vehicle and model, there are many ways to disable StabiliTrak.

Let’s now look at how to turn off StabiliTrak.

Turning Off StabiliTrak in Different Vehicles

For further information on how to disable StabiliTrak in various vehicles, see the sections below:

1. Toyota

In Toyota vehicles, turning off StabiliTrak is significantly easier thanks to the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) button. It’s as simple as pressing/holding the button for a few seconds.

This will turn off the VSC as well as the traction control (TRAC). The dash will flash messages or indicators like “VSC OFF” and “TRAC OFF” after the process is complete.

2. Ford

In most cases, this procedure works for Ford or other similar vehicles. Depending on the model, the procedures may differ. To switch off the StabiliTrak on some models, you must first push the traction control button.

After that, immediately release the button. Then, for a moment, hold down the control button to disable the traction control.

But other models require you to locate the StabiliTrak sensor:

  • Go to the car’s menu and look for the steering wheel controls under the instrument panel to locate the StabiliTrak sensor;
  • Look for the black arrow on the steering wheel’s left side;
  • Next, press the black arrow;
  • After that, scroll down by using the down arrow to control the setting;
  • Accept the settings once you get to them.
  • When you select this, more options will appear automatically;
  • Then, from the options, choose DRIVER ASSIST and press the OK button once more;
  • The DRIVE CONTROL option should appear on the dash once done. When it does, the procedure is complete;
  • Now, check the steering wheel and press OK.

Done? Great. You’re ready to go now.

3. Volkswagen

Compared to the previous two, vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen have a different process.

  • To begin, switch the car to accessory mode while the ignition is still turned on;
  • Remember not to start the car;
  • After that, proceed to the lights and press the triangle button. The warning lights are turned on when this button is pressed;
  • Press the accelerator pedals slowly 5 times once the warning lights are turned on; and
  • By pressing the accelerator pedal, the car lurches forward and the Traction Control (TC) turns back on. This is a fully automated process.

In most Volkswagen vehicles, turning off StabiliTrak disables some safety features. Once you’ve gotten out of the mud or the cold, it’s a good idea to reactivate the StabiliTrak system.

4. RAM, FIAT, Dodge Jeep, and Chrysler

These vehicle types have a considerably simpler and easier approach. However, it is critical to carry out this process when the vehicle is stopped, but the ignition is still turned on.

To start, use the ESC button. Just hold it there for around 6 seconds. A buzzer will sound after that. In the instrument group, the “ESC OFF” should appear.

5. Chevrolet and GMC

Look for a button showing a car with squiggly lines on Chevrolet and GMC vehicles:

  • The button is located in the middle of the stack. Once you’ve located it, push and hold the button for a few seconds to light up the traction control;
  • Then check the instrument lister; and
  • You’ll find a Driver Information Center (DIC) message, which is more prominent in some car models like the GMC Sierra 2018.

That is all there is to it. Keep in mind that disabling StabiliTrak also disables traction control.

service stabilitrak message

You don’t have to be concerned if you want to reactivate the StabiliTrak system. You’re not required to do anything! Chevrolet and GMC vehicles, unlike other vehicle types, do this automatically whenever your vehicle reaches or exceeds 56 km/hr or 34.79 miles per hr.

Service StabiliTrak Message – Other Concerns 

When the Service StabiliTrak Message Appears, Is It Safe to Drive?

Yes. When these messages appear on your dash, you are not in immediate danger. In a sliding situation, StabiliTrak is supposed to help detect and control the car.

Because the StabiliTrak is disabled, you’ll have to adjust your driving whenever you come into sliding or other comparable road conditions.

But the best option for your long-term safety is to visit the nearest auto dealer and have a mechanic or technician look at your system. Diagnostic troubleshooting codes can be revealed with a quick car scan.

If you want to fix it yourself or repair the vehicle at home, you must first examine and understand the underlying issues that are causing the message.

What Is the Cost of Fixing the StabiliTrak?

The average cost of replacing your vehicle’s traction control or StabiliTrak is between $80 and $90. Labor expenses range from $30 to $50, depending on your area and car dealer. Parts, on the other hand, could cost anything from $20 to $40.

Sensor replacements for some vehicles with Service Stabilitrak message problems might cost anything from $250 to $400 apiece.

Because the Service StabiliTrak message has no clear cause, it’s best to consider all of the possibilities before deciding on the next course of action. If none of these options work, it’s probably best to bring your car to a mechanic or the nearest car shop.

Conclusion – What Is StabiliTrak? What Is the Service StabiliTrak Message? 

To recap, the Service StabiliTrak message is a reliable indicator of a problem with the StabiliTrak System in the vehicle. The StabiliTrak System is a standard safety feature that protects drivers from sliding wheels and prevents accidents on bad roads.

Input sensors, malfunctioning or faulty controllers, and bad connections are common causes of the Service StabiliTrak message.

In emergency situations, it may be useful to turn off the StabiliTrak System to improve power output. Disconnecting the StabiliTrak System varies depending on the vehicle and model as well.

While driving with the Service StabiliTrak message on the dashboard is relatively safe, it would be best to consult a mechanic and/or take your vehicle to the local service shop.

To locate the Stabilitrak sensor, follow these steps:

  • Look for the steering wheel controls under the instrument panel by going to the car’s menu;
  • On the left part of the steering wheel, look for the black arrow. Press this black arrow to activate; and
  • After that, scroll down by using the down arrow to control the setting. Accept the settings when you get to them.

How do you fix StabiliTrak?

Pull over and turn off your car to fix the Service StabiliTrak message quickly. Then, wait for 15 to 20 seconds. When you restart the car, the “Service StabiliTrak” message should be gone. If the warning hasn’t disappeared, seek service as soon as you can.