Older Chevrolet trucks and SUVs encounter common issues with the StabiliTrak and traction control systems, causing warning lights to shine on the dashboard. The warning indicator happens during idle and disappears while moving. So, what gives?
StabiliTrak uses sensors to adjust the direction of your car in rough conditions. Issues can arise from components like the alternator, ignition, fuel system, connections, system controller, etc. Repair costs can range between $300 to $1,500, depending on the underlying cause.
Don’t panic if your StabiliTrak or traction control light keeps turning on. There’s a lot to consider and troubleshoot to ensure your vehicle runs smoothly. Thankfully, we cover everything you need to know in the article below. Read on for more information.
What Is StabiliTrak?
StabiliTrak is a proprietary technology on various GM vehicles. The technology is a type of “electronic stability control” system that works differently than your typical traction control feature.
Traction control limits power to the wheels to ensure your vehicle can go from stop to start, even in low-traction conditions.
On the other hand, StabiliTrak ensures your vehicle can move in a straight line once it’s already accelerating. The feature utilizes different sensors to adjust the steering wheel and tires based on the vehicle’s direction.
For example, if you’re on a wet road and begin to lose control, StabiliTrak will initiate to correct the vehicle’s position. StabiliTrak will apply brakes to the tires necessary to straighten out the vehicle, depending on the situation.
StabiliTrak works with stability control features, wheels, steering wheel, and brakes. However, because it’s interlinked with several components, multiple problems can arise and cause the “Service StabiliTrak” notification to light up.
What Does the Service StabiliTrak Light Mean?
When the StabiliTrak light turns on, the system is encountering issues. The StabiliTrak feature is controlled by your vehicle’s steering wheel, brakes, and various sensors.
StabiliTrak requires consistent power or engine speed to work properly. The StabiliTrak and traction control systems will automatically disable if the engine isn’t giving consistent power.
Simply put, anytime your vehicle misfires or has a performance issue that causes inconsistent RPMs, the StabiliTrak and traction control systems can encounter problems. But, because the system is connected to various components, there can be many causes for the light to turn on.
Problems with StabiliTrak
The StabiliTrak system uses several different sensors to work correctly. In some cases, issues can arise with the system itself and not from other components in your vehicle. Three primary parts can encounter problems in the StabiliTrak feature:
- Speed sensors on each wheel
- The sensor on the steering wheel
- Electronic Brake Control Module (EBCM)
Note: The ABS sensor can also affect the system and cause issues, but it’s a component in the braking system.
If your vehicle’s problem lies with the StabiliTrak feature, you’ll typically notice a check engine light and a fault code. Each of the sensors and EBCM have various fault codes that you can read with an OBD reader.
In these cases, you won’t notice underlying performance problems like power loss, rough idling, lurching, misfires, or other issues.
Problems with the StabiliTrak system won’t cause performance hiccups, and they can be easy to fix. However, the StabiliTrak light typically appears from other performance complications, not the feature itself.
Performance Problems Causing Inconsistent RPMs
One of the most common causes of the warning light turning on come from safety features turning on from ignition and fueling issues. You might notice different symptoms, but the StabiliTrak feature doesn’t typically cause them. Instead, these issues result from underlying performance issues with the engine.
Although ignition and fueling parts tend to be the most common culprits, there are a few other causes, including the following:
- Spark plugs
- Ignition coils
- Blocked or dirty fuel filter
- Faulty fuel pump
- A defective or dirty throttle position sensor
- Dirty throttle body
If you have one of these issues, you’ll notice symptoms relating to decreased performance. For example, you might see your vehicle misfiring, lurching, slow acceleration, rough idling, and more. It’s best to check the engine light codes and troubleshoot the issue as soon as possible.
A common cause for the StabiliTrak light to turn on is your vehicle’s alternator has failed or is about to fail.
The warning light can appear a few days or weeks before other components in your vehicle, like the battery, accrue damage. If you notice this issue, you should have your alternator inspected as soon as possible.
System Controller Issues
Another common cause for the StabiliTrak warning indicator to turn on are issues with the system controller. Luckily, you can quickly fix a faulty system controller by having your car’s computer reset at your local dealership.
Connection Has Failed
Another cause for the StabiliTrak light is a failed connection. For example, a negative battery cable can become disconnected and cause a poor connection.
You may need to give your car’s computer time to resolve the connections necessary for the StabiliTrak feature to work before hitting the road.
Is it Safe to Drive with the Service Light On?
Your Chevrolet vehicle is safe to drive with the StabiliTrak and traction control indicators turned on. However, you’ll typically see a lack of power, and it’s common to encounter hard shifts. Your vehicle may be drivable, but hard shifts are not ideal for transmission and cause significant damage over time.
It’s currently unknown why GM vehicles encounter hard shifts when the StabiliTrak light turns on. However, you may also notice minor symptoms, like misfires and rough idling, that won’t cause too much damage.
But because the StabiliTrak and traction control systems aren’t working correctly, you’ll notice different handling on wet surfaces. This can be dangerous if you aren’t prepared to manually adjust your vehicle in the case of skidding or an accident.
How Do You Turn Off StabiliTrak in Chevy Vehicles?
Fortunately, you can disable the StabiliTrak feature manually if you find it unnecessary or causing issues. Depending on your vehicle, you can use several methods to disable the StabiliTrak feature. We cover them in more detail below.
Method 1: Use the TCS Button
You can click the TCS button to disable the feature in some Chevrolet vehicles. Here’s how:
- Find the Traction Control System button on your vehicle’s dashboard.
- Next, press the Traction Control System button until the StabiliTrak or Traction Control icon turns off.
If this method doesn’t work, you can move on to method two to disable the StabiliTrak feature.
Method 2: Enter a Code
You can turn off the StabiliTrak feature in most Chevy models after 2009 by typing a code into the vehicle. Here’s how:
- Turn on your vehicle and click the Trip Odometer Reset button near the cluster.
- Next, click and hold down the Info button for three to five seconds.
- Type the following digits: 1468
- Your display should show, Stability is Off.
- Now you can turn off your vehicle or drive it as usual.
If this method doesn’t work and you’ve tried method one, you may need to contact a professional mechanic to disable the StabiliTrak feature. If you continue messing with the system without the proper experience, you may cause unnecessary damage or issues.
How to Reset the Service StabiliTrak Light on a Chevy
The Service StabiliTrak indicator appears as a yellow light on the dashboard. The light can turn on when there are issues with the StabiliTrak Control Module. You may need to reset the StabiliTrak Control Module to resolve the problems.
You can disconnect the battery or complete a force restart to do so. Here’s a quick guide to get you started:
- Turn off your vehicle and wait about 15 minutes.
- Insert the key to the On position, but do not start the vehicle.
- Press the gas pedal five times in five seconds. You can use the clutch if your vehicle is manual.
- The light should turn off after this step. If the light doesn’t turn off, turn off the car and wait 10 seconds before repeating the process.
- Repeat these steps as needed until the light turns off.
Note: Performing a force restart on your vehicle may worsen underlying issues. It’s best to contact a professional mechanic if you aren’t sure what you’re doing.
How Much Does it Cost to Fix StabiliTrak on a Chevy Vehicle?
It’s not common for a Chevy owner to repair the StabiliTrak feature. The StabiliTrak system is fairly complicated and isn’t usually the cause of performance issues. Instead, the problems are generally with underlying components.
That said, a professional mechanic well versed in Chevy vehicles can repair the StabiliTrak System if necessary. In addition, the mechanic may troubleshoot the StabiliTrak system, costing around $100 to $150 for diagnostics.
The mechanic can sometimes resolve the issue for under $300. However, in other instances, the mechanic may replace the entire system, costing upwards of $1,500.
The most common issue is a poor ABS wheel sensor, a quick and affordable repair is between $200 and $400. Other issues, like replacing a steering angle sensor, can range between $500 and $900 professionally.
The most expensive maintenance cost is an ABS module failure repair, which costs between $800 and $1,500, depending on the shop.
If you can, it may be best to resolve some of these issues on your own. However, if you lack experience, it’s best to seek out professional services. Shop around at different mechanics and get estimates to find the best deal.