What Does the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Traction Control Light Mean?

The 2016 Hyundai Sonata traction control light indicates normal function from your traction control system in adverse driving conditions, but it might also turn on if there are serious vehicle malfunctions.
Written by Jaya Anandjit
Reviewed by Georgina Grant
The 2016 Hyundai Sonata features an electronic stability control system that manages your vehicle’s movement when you’re driving in unsteady conditions. The stability control light will turn on if the system is actively working to keep your Hyundai balanced on the road, but if the light remains on, you’ll need to visit a mechanic to address the cause.
Lights or icons on your vehicle’s instrument cluster can be slightly alarming. Thankfully, not all lights indicate that it's time to head down to the
car repair
Let’s go over the common causes for a blinking or illuminated traction control light in a 2016 Hyundai Sonata, plus whether or not your light indicates a repair-worthy malfunction.

Why your 2016 Hyundai Sonata traction control light turns on

electronic stability control (ESC) light
—also known as the traction control system (TCS) light—in your 2016 Hyundai Sonata appears as a little car with wavy skid lines beneath the wheel. The light is typically located on the instrument cluster, nearby where you might see the check engine light. But while you might think that the ESC light indicates an issue with your vehicle’s system—like the “check engine” light—it could just mean that your ESC is engaged and functioning as intended. 
The stability control system in your 2016 Sonata uses wheel speed sensors to monitor the grip and traction of each wheel. If the sensors detect an issue with wheel mobility, the system will send a notification to the traction control module to limit speed and apply braking pressure to any affected wheels to prevent skids. If this happens, the small car-and-skids icon will blink on your instrument cluster.
If the light flickers while you’re driving on unstable road conditions, this is a sign that your ESC is operating normally to combat a loss of stability. But if your ESC light stays on rather than flickering a few times before turning off, your Hyundai’s ESC system or interconnected vehicle components may be malfunctioning. Let’s go through some possible causes of a
traction control malfunction
in your 2016 Hyundai Sonata.  
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Temporary loss of traction

The most common cause of a flickering ESC light is a loss of traction on adverse road conditions. Let’s say you’re driving through slush and ice on a snowy day—your wheels might lose traction, causing your ESC to kick in to stabilize your wheel movement. The light blinks to indicate that your ESC is functioning normally, which is a great sign!
If your ESC light stays on or if other warning lights appear with it (like the ABS warning light or the dreadful “check engine” light), you might be dealing with an internal issue. If this happens, take your Hyundai to a mechanic for a
traction control light inspection

Faulty wheel speed sensors

If your ESC light stays on, it may be due to a malfunctioning wheel speed sensor. These sensors are a part of the wheel bearing assembly, and they’re meant to control the speed of each wheel. Since they’re in constant use, these sensors are bound to get dirty or damaged, which can affect their ability to enable the ESC system. 
If your ESC light remains on, you should bring your Hyundai to a repair shop for a look at the wheel speed sensors. In some cases, the speed sensor wires or connectors can corrode and cause receptivity issues, so you might not require an entire sensor replacement. Car repair shops can use an OBD-II scanner and physically inspect your wheel sensors to troubleshoot the issue.

Anti-lock braking system (ABS) malfunction

The electronic stability control system and
anti-lock brake system
in your 2016 Hyundai Sonata share the same control module. Your anti-lock brake system controls the motion and traction of your wheels when you brake, accelerate, or turn your vehicle’s wheels on an unstable road. 
Low brake fluid, a faulty brake pedal position sensor, or any other issues with your ABS system can illuminate both your ESC light and your
ABS system light
If both lights turn on and remain on, take your Sonata to a repair shop as soon as possible to identify and resolve the issue.
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Broken ESC/ABS control module

If your ESC and ABS control module is broken or malfunctioning, you’ll notice both lights turn on, and you may see the engine light switch on as well. If the light stays on even as you travel on regular road conditions, be sure to bring the vehicle to a repair shop for a diagnostic. 

Low tire pressure

If a tire on your Sonata is underinflated, the accompanying wheel will move at a faster rate to compensate for the lack of stability, which inevitably disrupts your vehicle’s traction control. If your Sonata detects a speed difference among your wheels, your ESC light will turn on. 
Your tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) light might also turn on if there are any underinflated tires. In some cases, a malfunctioning TPMS could turn on your ESC light.
Be sure to check your tire pressure if your ESC light is on with the TPMS light, or if no other light is present alongside the ESC warning. Even without the TPMS light, there could be issues with your tire pressure.

Traction control system turned off

Your electronic stability control system remains on at all times to ensure correct traction control on all types of roads. The only time the system turns off is if there is a malfunction, or if you
turn it off
using the button located to the left of your steering wheel below the instrument panel. That’s right—whether it was intentional or by accident, you can turn your ESC off.
With your vehicle in park, you can press the ESC button to turn your stability control system on or off. If you’re experiencing issues with traction control and you’re unsure if the ESC system is on, take your vehicle to a mechanic for help.

Can you drive with the traction control light on?

You can continue to drive your 2016 Hyundai Sonata if the ESC light flashes on, but be extra careful with your steering and speed to ensure your wheels aren’t being overworked in adverse driving conditions.
As we said, if the traction control light flickers and dims while you’re driving through rainy, icy, snowy, or uneven road conditions, your ESC system is functioning normally. If the light remains on, your ESC system is disabled due to a malfunction, and your vehicle could slide or drift on slippery roads. 
If you notice your ESC light, ABS light, brake light, check engine light, or a combination of any of these warning lights on your instrument panel, refrain from driving and immediately take your vehicle to a mechanic. 
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