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Why Are Jeep ABS and Traction Control Lights On? How to Fix

One of the main issues reported with the accessories of jeeps is with the ABS and traction control lights. These control lights come on for various reasons. In this article, I’ll discuss why are Jeep ABS and TCS (Traction Control System) lights are on and how you can fix them.

The Jeep ABS and Traction Control Lights are on due to a faulty wheel or a speed sensor. The failure of the ABS and TCS modules also contributes to this issue. A tester tool can read the failure codes to find the exact root cause.

The traction control lights and ABS lights are on due to the following reasons:

  1. Failure of ABS or TCS Module
  2. Faulty Embedded Controller
  3. Off-Center Steering Wheel
  4. Faulty Fuse
  5. Fault in Wheel Speed Sensor
  6. Abnormal Tire Pressure
  7. Poor Alignment of the Wheel
  8. Improper/Wrong Connection of Battery
  9. Bad Speed Sensors of Wheel
  10. Bad Angle Sensor of Steering
  11. Bad Conditions of the Road
  12. Bad Steering Rack of Vehicle
  13. Issues with Programming
  14. Limp Mode
  15. Manual Override in the Jeep

Before heading to the exact reasons, let us understand the working principle of ABS and TCS more deeply.

ABS- Anti-Lock Braking System:

The ABS provides the driver with a controlled wheel lock when it senses that vehicle is entering the phase of an uncontrollable skid.

ABS is an active safety feature used on high-end vehicles and aircraft. These lights often give off yellow, amber, and orange color and come on after a few seconds when the person checks the vehicle system while turning the engine on.

The wheel speed sensors (WSS) in the ABS monitor the speed at which the wheels turn. If one wheel gets locked (not maintaining the driver's intention) during braking, the driver will likely lose control of the vehicle.

The ABS immediately intervenes by pumping the brake fluid to the wheel and steadying the vehicle.

Why is ABS Needed in Jeep?

  • Shortly hitting the brakes can be sufficient to cause wheel lock-up – even on a dry road.
  • Locked-up wheels cannot transfer lateral forces.
    • The consequence: The vehicle doesn’t react to the driver’s steering input
  • ABS recognizes very early if one or more wheels show a tendency to lock up while braking. In this case, ABS ensures that the braking pressure is kept at a constant level or reduced.
  • The wheels do not lock up, and the vehicle remains steerable.
  • Thus the vehicle can be decelerated quickly and safely, and an obstacle can be avoided.

Wheel speed sensors

  • Individually monitor each wheel’s speed without physical contact
    • Recognize wheel speeds from close to zero r.p.m.
    • Detect the direction of the wheel’s rotation

The ABS closed-loop control:

  • The driver hits the brake. Master cylinder and brake booster build up braking pressure.
    • The wheel-speed sensors provide the ABS ECU with information on the wheel speeds.
    • The ABS ECU calculates the wheel slip.
    • If the wheel slip exceeds a set value, the ECU influences the braking pressure via the solenoid valves of the hydraulic unit. Thus it prevents wheel lock-up.
Why Are Jeep ABS and Traction Control Lights On?

ABS Working Principle:

Why Are Jeep ABS and Traction Control Lights On?

TCS (Traction Control System):

The traction control system is a system that monitors the stability and steering performance of the vehicle. In addition, it helps keep track of historical data about the grip of cars on the road.

This system proactively finds potential errors and fixes them if it detects anything unusual beyond the historical data. This system uses wheel-speed sensors to detect lost traction.

This system can trigger the hydraulic modulator to slow down and stop the wheel spin. This feature is helpful in snowy and icy conditions where the drive wheels of the vehicle can spin due to slippery surfaces.

Why is TCS Needed in Jeep?

  • While driving off or accelerating, the slip between tires and road surface can increase so far that one or more wheels start slipping.
  • Slipping wheels cannot transfer motive or steering forces onto the road, and the vehicle becomes uncontrollable.
  • If the driver demands a drive torque exceeding that transferable to the road, TCS intervenes: In fractions of a second, it adapts the slip of the driven wheels to the best possible level.

Benefits of TCS:

  • TCS prevents wheel slip
    • TCS increases driving stability
    • TCS maintains steerability

Reasons Why the Jeep ABS and Traction Control Light Are On:

Here we will discuss the leading causes that are responsible for turning on the ABS of jeep and traction control lights:

1. Failure of ABS or TCS Module:

The most common reason for the warning lights to come on is when the ABS controller has stopped working.

The TCS (Traction Control System) light might have turned on if a brake system problem like an unresponsive brake pedal caused the brakes not to work correctly.

It’s only logical as the ABS and TCS share a common control module and every other major component.

2. Faulty Embedded Controller:

Your jeep’s embedded microcontroller helps with the ABS and TCS by controlling it.

So, if your ABS or TCS light goes on and you find there’s nothing wrong with the car, chances are that the inter controller is just malfunctioning.

3. Off-Center Steering Wheel:

A person must adjust the steering wheel if they face any trouble operating the jeep. Jeeps must travel a long way, ensuring that vehicles are easy to drive in off-roading conditions.

The steering wheel system in jeeps and other off-roading vehicles has a unique steering system that offers an easy and smooth ride.

But in rare cases, the steering wheel can lose alignment causing disengagement in the system. In this condition, the ABS and traction control of the jeep turns on.

4. Faulty Fuse:

If your ABS lights up, it could indicate a faulty fuse or wiring. The ABS light activates when the car’s computer detects this issue.

If the fuse is faulty, your car’s internal control system detects the issue and activates the ABS light and the Check Engine Light to warn the driver.

After this happens, try to get some error messages that might help me identify the exact cause.

5. Fault in Wheel Speed Sensor:

The speed sensor is an essential part of the ABS of jeeps. The wheel speed sensor helps detect the speed and direction of the wheels. It also helps send the information to the jeep's computer so that it can adjust the brake pressure according to it.

The malfunctioning in the sensors can be fixed. However, a scan tool is required to read the codes and discover the problem behind the ABS and traction control lights and why they are turned on.

6. Abnormal Tire Pressure:

When abnormal speed is detected, your jeep has wheel speed sensors communicating to the ABS and TCS. When your tire pressure is lower than the threshold, ECU senses abnormal speed and alerts you to the problem.

This may lead to an erroneous input that alerts the ABS or Traction Control, triggering its warning signals.

7. Poor Alignment of the Wheel:

The jeep’s ABS and traction control light system often goes off if the tire rotations and alignments are not checked regularly. Poor alignment of the vehicle can affect the performance of the wheels.

8. Improper/Wrong Connection of Battery:

The jeep's ABS and traction control lights turn on when the battery is not connected correctly. It leads to improper working of the system. 

The battery is critical in this case and throws a lot of error codes, including poor and wrong connections with battery terminals.

9. Bad Speed Sensors of Wheel:

The speed sensors of the wheel are connected to the traction control system and the engine’s control unit. These wheel sensors are responsible for detecting the speed at which the wheels rotate. Each wheel in the vehicle is on its sensor.

The wheel speed sensor detects the change when the rotating speed of any wheel changes unexpectedly during acceleration. The speed sensors detect this change and notify the traction control system.

The traction control system is not notified when the wheel speed sensors are not working. The wheel, in this case, loses its traction and causes the traction control light to turn on.

10. Bad Angle Sensor of Steering:

The steering angle sensor can calculate the angle of the steering wheel. It also calculates the rate at which it is turned on.

It is positioned in the steering column that can track the angle and rate in a precise way. The steering angle sensor is used by the stability control system and helps detect the driver’s direction.

A person can expect the positioning of the traction control light if the sensor goes bad. A person can also notice the stability control issues with the bad clock spring.

11. Bad Conditions of the Road:

The vehicle’s traction control system might not be able to handle it if the road conditions are severe. For example, it isn’t easy to maintain traction on the road if the location holds a lot of snow and ice.

The traction light might illuminate in this condition if the traction gets too tricky. You can go for winter tires in this condition if you don’t have the tires installed in your vehicle.

Winter tires are better for slick road conditions as compared to all-season tires. You can buy a second set of wheels and can swap them over.

12. Bad Steering Rack of Vehicle:

There is a steering rack in the vehicle, which is attached to the steering wheel. It is an integral part of the power steering system.

This system receives high-pressure hydraulic fluid, which is necessary to make an easy turn for the steering wheel. It is better to have smooth steering, which is a part of good traction and is easy to control.

It is hard to steer the vehicle on the road if you own a bad steering rack. In addition, it will cause the traction control light to come on the vehicle.

13. Issues with Programming:

Sometimes, the traction control system has issues with the current programming and needs reprogramming. These programming errors can happen at any time.

They are sometimes a result of a manufacturer defect or oversight. The traction control light comes if there is a problem with this control system. A certified mechanic specializing in this work can fix such programming issues.

14. Limp Mode:

The dashboard lights up like a Christmas tree when the vehicle enters limp mode. One of the reasons behind the lighting of such lights is the traction control light.

The limp mode in the vehicles keeps the powertrain safe and allows the driver to limp the vehicle to the mechanic for repair. This thing will prevent the driver from being stranded and requiring a tow.

15. Manual Override in the Jeep:

A button in the vehicles helps to disable the traction control or the stability control systems. For example, if you are stuck in deep snow or mud, you desire to disable the traction control.

Sometimes, the wheel may slip, which can help you get free. In addition, some sports cars come with the ability to disable traction.

The stability control systems give the drivers some control over the handling dynamics of vehicles. For example, if a manual system disables the traction control, it can still turn itself back whenever the person restarts the vehicle.

Is It Possible to Drive With the Traction Control Light On?

There are chances of driving safe when the light is illuminated on the dash in the form of a traction control light.

A person should take extra care during accelerating and taking turns when it is wet or slippery outside. This is because the vehicle sometimes acts predictably in such conditions.

Slipping tires have less grip than rolling tires. Therefore, it is recommended to steer, accelerate and brake your vehicle smoothly to balance it.

Is It Possible to Drive a Jeep With ABS Light On?

It is possible to drive a Jeep with an ABS light on. But the person willing to drive should make sure to drive moderately. For example, if a person is driving on the highway, it is recommended to go at a speed of less than 60 mph.

You can also drive safely at 35 mph or a slow speed. However, you should be extra attentive in the rainy season as sometimes brakes might not work well in bad weather conditions.

So, it is recommended to solve the issues with your vehicle as soon as you detect them.

Things to Do When Jeep ABS and Traction Control Light Are on (How to Fix?):

When the Jeep ABS and traction control light stay on, you can follow two methods:

  1. Using an OBD scanner
  2. Replacing the wheel speed sensor

1. Using an OBD Scanner:

You can use a scanner for Jeep ABS and traction control light. It allows one to read the codes which are related to the problem. 

It helps a person to identify the issue that causes the Jeep ABS and traction control light to stay on after getting the code. Sometimes, the issue is with the poor wheel speed sensor, which does not work properly.

2. Replacing the wheel speed sensor

If you want to replace the wheel speed sensor, you can do so for just $50. It is cheaper than having an auto mechanic to look after the vehicle that can quote a heavy price for such repair.

You must replace the sensor in your Jeep’s ABS and traction control light. Then, you can take your jeep to an auto shop pro who can help you to fix it.

Resetting the ABS and TCS Lights (Step Wise):

ABS Light:

  1. Disrupting the positive cable from the battery while resetting the central computer or PCM/ECM is advisable. Hold the brake pedal after this step, which will drain the vehicle’s electrical system.
  2. Don’t forget to plug in the positive cable to restore power. This step can turn the ABS light off for at least a week until it is not permanently reset.
  3. Check the worn-out ABS sensors if the light still reappears. You can change them by unscrewing the wheel-hub-mounted housing and unplugging the wire. You should make sure to reset the computer after completing this step.
  4. You can connect an OBDII reader to your vehicle’s diagnostic system if the light persists in turning on. It will help you trace what issue is prompting the warning light to remain on.

TCS Light:

  1. Vehicle sensors in the vehicle recheck the triggered problem that turns the traction control light. Once the issue is addressed, the TCS lights turn off. If the TCS lights are still on after repair, you can drive your car for a few minutes to ensure that the traction is okay.
  2. Sometimes you can get stuck in the deep snow or mud where you can manually override the traction control ride. After this situation, you can turn off the lights. The traction control system lights turn on when the stability control system is deactivated.
  3. It is recommended to ensure that all vehicle wheels are of the same size and type to get accurate readings of wheel speed sensors. This will prevent uneven spinning and can trigger the traction control light.
  4. The traction control system is mated with the stability program of the traction control system; fast driving, in this case, can activate the TCS light. Controlling the car and driving moderately can help to turn off the warning light.
  5. You can use the OBDII scanner if still, the TCS light of your vehicle remains on after following the steps mentioned above. You can run a system check on your cars to make sure that nothing is malfunctioning in your vehicle. It will bring the best results, and you can check out your vehicle for a thorough scan.

Cost for Fixing the ABS and Traction Light:

ABS Lights

Traction Lights

The overall cost of repairing the ABS system associated with jeeps depends on the severity of the detected issue. It is also based on the model and year of the jeep. The ABS lights can cost in between $200-$600 each.

The overall price of the traction lights and control switch replacement can cost in between the range of $80-$90. It depends on the model and years of the vehicle.

The wheel sensors of the ABS lights can cost in between $100-$200 per piece. Overall average spending on fixing the ABS lights can go minimum to $100 and maximum to $800.

The average cost of the traction lights are priced around $43 including the total labor cost which is fixed in between $38-$48.

Also Read:

Can All Jeeps Go Off-Road? All You Need to Know
Why Does My Jeep Wrangler Smell Like Antifreeze?
Why Do Jeep Wranglers Have Two Batteries? Know in Details
Why Does My Jeep Wrangler Keep Beeping? All You Need to Know

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What do you mean by the ABS and traction control light?

The traction control light comes as a result when there is a malfunction in the brake system. If the brake fluid is low, the light ABS also comes on. There are sensors in the vehicle that can detect when the fluids are low, which is dangerous.

Is it considered a safe thing to drive with an ABS and traction control light?

It is recommended not to drive the vehicle if the ABS and TCS warning lights come on along with the main brake warning light. Do not drive until this problem is not fixed. In this case, the entire braking system is affected, and you cannot stop the vehicle.

Is it possible to drive the Jeep while having the ABS light on?

You can drive while having your ABS light on as it does not impact the standard braking. However, it is not recommended as the ABS helps control, making driving difficult without this system.

How can a driver clear the ABS and traction control light?

It is recommended to follow these steps:

  • Using the onboard diagnostic scan tool for resetting the traction control system and ABS light. You can do so by plugging it into the diagnostic link connector and clearing the code.
  • Drive the vehicle for a few minutes after reconnecting it or installing a new battery to turn off the light.
  • Take the vehicle to the mechanic if the TCS light comes back after resetting.

What cause the ABS light to equip with the Jeep in most cases?

4 common reasons cause the ABS light to turn on. These reasons include the following:

  • A malfunctioning ABS module
  • Low levels in the fluid reservoir
  • Broken wheel speed sensors
  • When the system is turned off