Jeep Wrangler Traction Control Light: What Does It Mean?
The traction control light in your Jeep Wrangler is a small light that looks like a car over two squiggly lines. It can be alarming when you look down and see this light on, but what exactly does it signify?
If the traction control light in your Jeep Wrangler comes on briefly, the system is working as it was designed to. But if the light stays on or is on when you turn on the car, it may indicate an issue with your traction or braking systems, a blown fuse, low fluids, or a computer malfunction.
If your traction control light is staying on, it might just need a simple reset — or there could be something more serious going on. Let’s look at the reasons the light may come on and some ways you can troubleshoot the problem on your own.
What Is a Traction Control Light?
The traction control light on your Jeep Wrangler is a light that illuminates when there’s a problem with either your vehicle’s traction with the road or the automatic braking system (ABS). Both of these systems in your Jeep are part of the larger braking system that allows you to bring your car to a stop.
This light will illuminate when there’s an issue with either the ABS or traction control, but it won’t tell you which one.
Sometimes, the light will go off again quickly, and in these cases, it’s likely nothing to worry about; it just means the system is working as it should.
But if your traction control light comes on and stays on, that’s when you need to take action.
What Does It Mean When the Traction Control Light Comes On?
Strangely enough, the traction control system light also comes on when the system is working as it should. The light will typically come on when it’s rainy, snowy, or muddy, and your Jeep is working to keep in contact with the road.
However, once you’re out of adverse conditions, the light should shut off. If it doesn’t shut off, or if it comes on when you’re driving on normal dry roads, then there’s probably something wrong with your traction control or ABS system.
Here are some possible reasons why your traction light is staying on:
The traction control light, as mentioned above, can be illuminated by either the ABS or the traction control system. If it illuminates and stays illuminated, one of these systems is probably faulty.
Before the traction control light illuminates, it has to pass through the central computer of your vehicle. Sometimes, this central computer can malfunction and illuminate the traction control light.
This error requires reprogramming for the light to switch off. It’s never advised to try and reprogram your car’s computer on your own, however.
Sometimes, a Jeep can have a light on its dashboard because of a blown fuse. You’ll be able to tell if your traction control light is the result of a blown fuse if your check engine light is also on, as these two lights share a single fuse.
You can also take the time to find your car’s fuse panel to reset or replace the fuse yourself. If it’s the fuse causing the problem, then the light should go off after you replace the fuse.
In some cases, the traction control light comes on when your vehicle is low on fluids. Driving without certain fluids in your vehicle can be dangerous, so it’s a good idea to check your brake fluid and oil levels right away when you see the traction control light.
Low Tire Pressure
Your traction control system depends heavily on your tire pressure to read correctly, therefore, if your tires are low on air, then this could cause the traction control light to come on.
It’s a good idea to check the tire pressure in all of your tires to see if this is the culprit. If you’ve filled all your tires and the light is still on, then it’s likely caused by something else on this list.
Steering Issue/Bad Alignment
If your steering wheel or tires aren’t properly installed and aligned, this can cause the traction control light to come on. In either situation, you’ll want to have a mechanic look at your vehicle, as they may need to adjust the steering column and/or the tires.
The traction control light can come on based on a bad reading from the sensor. Occasionally, a sensor will go bad and send warning signals even when there’s nothing wrong with your vehicle.
Like the computer programming issue, a bad sensor is a difficult fix, and it’s best handled by a mechanic. You won’t be able to tell a sensor is bad just from looking at it.
Foreign Matter in Your Traction Control System
It can happen that foreign matter gets into your traction control system — typically some sort of dirt or debris from offroading. This problem can be easily solved by cleaning the system, but it’s a difficult task that is best left to someone with Jeep experience, like a certified mechanic.
Can You Drive With the Traction Light On?
Whether or not it is safe to drive your car with the traction light on depends on when you first notice the light. If you’re driving when the light comes on, especially in snowy or rainy conditions, then it’s safe to finish your trip; your system is working as intended.
If you noticed the light when you first started up the car, then you will want to take the time to investigate the source of the light before you drive. Try filling your tires and checking your fluids, and if that doesn’t help, then drive your car to a mechanic as soon as possible.
The ABS system directly affects your brakes, so it isn’t a good idea to drive a car around with this light on, but it isn’t an immediate emergency that warrants pulling over on the side of the road unless you notice smoke or something else strange happening with your vehicle.
How to Turn Off the Traction Control Light
The best way to turn off the traction control light in your Jeep is to find the root of the problem and fix it. But if you’ve tried everything else and want to see if resetting the light will turn it off, follow these directions:
- Disconnect the battery by removing the positive cable.
- Hop in your vehicle and press the brake. This should drain the electrical system and reset the computer.
- Reconnect the positive cable to your Jeep battery.
- Turn the car on, and if the reset was all it needed, the light should be off. If the traction control light is still, then you’ll need to take the Jeep to a mechanic to find the problem.
Where Is the Jeep Traction Control Sensor Located?
It’s never a good idea to try to fix your own sensor issues unless you’re a trained Jeep mechanic. These are highly specialized sensors with special programming, and messing with them won’t fix the issue.
But if you do know what you are doing, then you can find the traction control sensors on the inner side of your Jeep’s wheels.
Final Thoughts on Your Jeep’s Traction Control Light
There are many reasons why your Jeep’s traction control light might be on. Most of the time, it turns on to indicate the system is working as designed.
But if it’s on when you first start up the car, or won’t turn off, then it’s a good idea to take your car to a certified Jeep mechanic to have them take a closer look.