What is Stabilitrak? It is a safety system that many modern vehicles come equipped with. In layman terms, Stabilitrak reduces the chance of the vehicle losing grip when in slippery environments. It reduces power accordingly so vehicle control can be maintained.
But Stabilitrak does have some cons. It may not be helpful when driving in a muddy area as the low power may affect your driving ability.
So, many people ask, how to turn off Stabilitrak? The procedure is different for vehicles from different brands; it always requires a button combination.
Although Stabilitrak is a great addition to vehicles, and there is no doubt that it may have helped people in some scenarios, you should be aware of everything it has to offer. This article aims to enlighten you with all of that.
Stabilitrak Vs. Traction Control
This is perhaps the most commonly asked question in this regard. Many people confuse traction control with Stabilitrak. The reason for this is that Stabilitrak helps control the vehicle’s stability, as is evident by its name.
This includes some degree of traction control too. So, you can say that Stabilitrak is traction control as it helps in reducing the chances of spinning and sliding.
Dangers Of Turning The Stabilitrak Feature Off
The traction control feature is the only thing on the entire vehicle that significantly reduces the chances of skidding and spinning when driving in slippery areas.
Whether it is a wet road or a snowy one, if you have driven over one, then you may know that control over it is much difficult than a dry one.
The traction control enables the vehicle to give you more control over the surface you are driving on. You will have a better driving experience with it turned off, but it is not worth the risk.
Ways To Turn Off The Stabilitrak Feature By Car Brands
With many manufacturers using the system in their latest releases, they have implemented the feature in all sorts of manners. It does not affect the functionality but using and disabling it is a different process for each brand.
I will be listing the top vehicle manufacturers and how you can shut down the Stabilitrak system on their vehicles:
1. Ford Vehicles
Before we start, with companies like Ford, which makes dozens of car models, there is a chance that the procedure may be different between them too. The one I will be detailing has the highest rate of success.
The Stabilitrak can be turned off using the following method:
- Press the traction control button that is present on the steering wheel, and leave it. It should be a quick press.
- Then press and hold the control button for a few seconds. This will turn off the traction control, and you will be good to go.
The process is simple, right? Well, that is not the case with some other Ford vehicles. They require you to be able to locate the Stabilitrak sensor before proceeding:
- Enter the car menu and search for steering wheel controls.
- On the steering wheel, there will be a black arrow that must be pressed.
- Turn to the menu and scroll down. We will be changing the settings.
- There will be an accept button. After pressing that, you will see a new menu that has more options.
- Scroll down until you see Driver Assist. Click on it and turn it off.
Congratulations! You finally turned off the Stabilitrak feature of your Ford vehicle. Out of both of them, only one will apply to your vehicle. I prefer the second one as it requires you to explore the settings of the vehicle. You may find some other features of functionality that may benefit you.
Volkswagen is one of the largest vehicle conglomerates in the world. With companies like Audi, Lamborghini, and Skoda under its belt, you can expect some features to be the same in all vehicles. One of those features is Stabilitrak.
Let’s review the step by step process of how to turn off the traction control system of Volkswagen vehicles:
- As most modern vehicles have shifted to a push-start functionality, one feature transferred from the original ignition method is the accessory mode. It turns on all of the electronics of the vehicle without starting the engine. You must enter accessory mode before proceeding.
- Turn on the warning lights. If you have no idea where they are located, search for a button that has a red triangle on it.
- Here comes the fun part. Press the accelerator pedal five times. As the vehicle is in accessory mode, it will move slowly.
- Press the brake when the vehicle has moved five feet.
That’s it. Although the process is a little bit trickier than a Ford vehicle, it is simple and will take a maximum of five minutes. If you want to turn Stabilitrak back on, then you have to repeat the same process.
There have been reports that some vehicles do not allow turning off the traction control completely. Honestly, I think this is a great move by companies. As with many vehicles features like stability assist, not everything can be turned off.
So, you can have the peace of mind that the appropriate systems are at work while not hindering the driving experience.
Out of all the manufacturers on this list, the one that has the most user-friendly way of turning off the Stabilitrak feature is Toyota.
I can guarantee that you did not guess that this company would be on the top in terms of disabling the essential functions of a vehicle. And, honestly, it is a good and a bad thing.
I will discuss that after I have listed the steps:
- Press the VSC button for a few seconds.
- There is no step 2! That is all you needed to do to turn off the function. You will see a message that states VSC off, followed by TRAC OFF. This indicator confirms that the feature has been turned off.
The fact that Toyota has made this process so easy means that it, in a way, does not stop or warn people of turning off this essential safety feature. Regardless, it does win against all other manufacturers.
4. Chevrolet And GMC
You must be wondering why I am writing about both of these companies in the same section. Well, both Chevrolet and GMC come under GM Motors. Their vehicles share some features, one of which is the Stabilitrak one.
In the case of vehicles such as the GMC Sierra, the Stabilitrak feature works until a speed limit has been reached. It has been turned off by default, but you can turn it on.
Regardless, we are here to talk about turning the function off. So, whenever you drive at or above the speed of 56 km/h, the function will turn itself off. There is no way to completely disable it.
For GM vehicle drivers:
5. FIAT, Dodge, Chrysler, And Jeep
Finally, on the final list of vehicles that can have the Stabilitrak feature turned off are the ones from Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler. All of the above manufacturers have made the process of turning off the function so easily that it challenges Toyota in this regard.
In all vehicles of the above manufacturers, all you have to do is press the ESC key for six seconds. And that will turn off the traction control of your vehicle.
Why Should The Process Not Be Straight Forward?
Let me explain. If a company, like Toyota, makes the process of turning off the traction control feature as easy as pressing and holding a button, the chances of it accidentally turning off become significantly high. The least they should do is to bury the option deep in the menu, so users will have to find it.
Most users don’t even care if the function is on or off. They leave it at its default state because of the increased safety. So, the process should be made a bit harder, like the one in Volkswagen vehicles, where you have to follow a specific set of rules to turn the feature off.
Stabilitrak Light Turning On
As the feature is not meant to be disabled and enabled over and over again, there is a chance that it may glitch out. As a result, there will be a traction control light that turns on in the instrument panel.
In cases like these, it is recommended to reset the sensor, to remove any glitches.
Let’s list some of the reasons that can cause the light to turn on:
1. Sensor Malfunction
As the Stabilitrak feature relies on sensors that are associated with steering angle and speed, if they send the incorrect reading, it may lead to the function turning on, which is evident by the light on the panel.
Usually, sensors like these need a reset. But sometimes, they become faulty. In cases like this, it is recommended to get the sensor replaced as soon as possible.
2. Faulty Controller
The Stabilitrak function does not communicate with the sensors directly. Instead, the signal is sent to the PCM, the Powertrain Control Module, and is then sent to the system.
If the PCM is faulty, it may decode the signals incorrectly and send the wrong data forward. The fault has a high chance of occurring when the vehicle is driving through extreme conditions.
There can also be a bad connection, but the chances of that happening are low. Unless you have had any work done near the Stabilitrak system, you should not worry about this problem.
Unless the sensors and the controller are fixed, there is no way to turn off the light in the instrument panel. Such repairs should not be delayed and must be fixed as soon as possible.
The Light Turns On While Driving
If you are worried about the Stabilitrak light turning on while driving, then you have nothing to worry about. When you drive, the light turns on if the system is turned on. This indicates that the system is being used to control the stability of your vehicle. It is just an indicator that the system is working.
You will also notice that the light usually turns on when you are driving in areas that are wet or slippery. As losing control of the vehicle, in such areas is common, the feature will take some control of the engine torque and the brake to provide you with better grip using the steering wheel.
Is There A Fuse For The Stabilitrak Feature?
This varies from vehicle to vehicle and manufacturer to manufacturer. There is a possibility of there being a fuse, but it is not recommended to remove it.
The reason for this is that the system is normally integrated with the ABS system, and it may also stop functioning with the removal of the fuse.
It is better and safe to use the method appropriate for your vehicle to disable the Stabilitrak feature without affecting other primary functions of the vehicle.
How To Fix Stabilitrak
There have been reports that that the Stabilitrak function glitches out without any prior warning or any reason.
As it is something that relies on sensors, this is to be expected. Regardless, there is a way to reset the system, so it stops annoying you again and again.
- Turn off the vehicle
- Do not start it for at least 20 seconds. Keep it off for 30 seconds, just to be on the safe side.
- Put the vehicle on standby, and the notification should have cleared itself.
As it is based on electricity, removing the power is the easiest and the most reliable method of removing glitches from a system.
If the notification is still there, then it is advised to get the vehicle inspected and fixed. The repair may be cheap or expensive. It all depends on what sort of problem there is.
Traction Control Stops Automatically
Let’s talk about one of the most serious issues that users faced. They reported that their vehicles turned the Stabilitrak feature off automatically.
This is dangerous because if it turns off in the middle of the road, the change in power may cause a loss of driving control. There can be a sudden misfire, which indicates a problem with the engine.
When something like this happens to the Stabilitrak system, the lights start flashing on the instrument panel. If you are on the road, it is best to stop the car on the side right away.
As the Stabilitrak feature needs a properly function engine, it will turn off if there is a problem. The only thing you can do is buy an OBDII reader, connect it to the vehicle and figure out the source of the issue.
The most probable reason for a misfire is a faulty spark plug. If you fix that, then the function will turn on automatically. If the issue still persists, then you will have to get the engine professionally checked to confirm the issue. (Here’s how you can check your spark plug’s condition).
The repair should not cost a lot. Replacing the entire system will cost you a maximum of $200. This is after considering labor costs and the new parts. It is my advice that you don’t delay the repair and get the job done as soon as possible, especially if you live in areas that have slippery roads.
Sensor Replacement Cost
As the Stabilitrak system is only responsible for acting according to the input from the sensors, it does not cost a lot. But when it comes to the sensors, the replacement may cost you a lot.
There have been reports that a single sensor can cost you anywhere from $200 to $300. The amount may even go up for luxury vehicles.
So, if the traction control is causing problems, then you may have to get the sensors checked and replaced. I know it costs a lot, but replacing them is the only way you can get Stabilitrak to work properly.
Driving Without Replacement
So, you are one of those daredevils that like to push everything to the extreme. Well, driving with faulty sensors is extremely dangerous. And I am not just talking about the Stabilitrak system.
If a sensor is messed up and the computer relies on its readings, then you can expect to run into some serious problems. You really don’t want the traction control system to suddenly turn on when you are on the highway.
If you really don’t want to get the replacement job done or cannot afford one, then you should turn the traction control system off. This way, you can be sure that it will not turn on accidentally and cause issues for you.
In answer to your question, how to turn off Stabilitrak, I hope that you find what you were looking for. I covered all of the major manufacturers in the USA.
If your vehicle manufacturer is not on the list, then the best thing to do is get a service manual of your specific model number, which may be available online, and refer to that for the information you want.
Regardless, the above guide is applicable to most vehicles that come with the Stabilitrak feature. It is a great addition to a vehicle and has been proven to decrease the chances of you losing control significantly.