What Do the 2016 Jeep Wrangler ABS and Traction Control Lights Mean?

If both the ABS and traction control lights are staying on in your 2016 Jeep Wrangler, it might be a sign of a serious problem, and should be checked out right away.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
The ABS and traction control lights on a 2016 Jeep Wrangler can be indicators of trouble in several areas of your Jeep. The traction control light might come on briefly if traction control is activated, but it (and the ABS light as well) should not be on all the time. If they are, the problem needs attention ASAP. 
It’s easy to forget what lights are even on your dashboard until they pop up, right? Then, the questions pop up as well—what does that one mean? Is it serious? Should you drive straight to a
car repair
place or can it wait? 
If both the ABS and the traction control system (TCS) lights are on in your 2016 Jeep Wrangler, you may not want to wait very long! Read on for some common causes. 

Why are your 2016 Jeep Wrangler ABS and traction control lights on?

Let’s start with the ABS warning light. The
anti-lock brake light
comes on when a problem is detected with your Jeep’s anti-lock brake system (ABS). 
Anti-lock brakes are an important safety component of a vehicle, and in a sudden or emergency stop, they prevent the vehicle’s wheels from locking up and causing skidding or loss of control. Did your parents or grandparents ever tell you to pump the brakes to prevent a skid? Well, anti-lock brakes do that for you—and more rapidly than a human ever could. 
The ABS light may illuminate briefly when you start your Jeep—that’s normal. But if it stays on or comes on when you’re driving, that’s a problem that needs to be addressed right away. 
traction control light
is tied to your Jeep’s traction control system. Unlike the ABS light, it’s not always a bad thing if it’s on. In less-than-ideal driving conditions, the TCS senses when one of your Jeep’s wheels is losing traction and adjusts power to all the other wheels accordingly in order to keep you in control—when you’re tackling some rough off-road terrain in your Wrangler and the TCS light comes on, that just means that the system is working as it should in all its Jeep-y goodness. 
However, if the TCS light stays on or comes on in normal driving conditions, that’s not okay. This means that there’s something wrong with your TCS, and it may not function properly when you need it to. 
There are a lot of components to both of these systems, which means that there are a lot of things that could cause the lights to illuminate. Either one of these lights staying on is nothing you want to ignore, and if both of them are lit, you shouldn’t wait to have your Jeep looked at by a mechanic. 
If you have one, an OBD scanner is a very handy tool that allows you to read your Jeep’s error codes, and can help to at least narrow down the source of the problem. But for now, let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons your ABS and traction control lights are on!
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Problems with the ABS/TC control module

The anti-lock brake system and the traction control system share a control module in the 2016 Jeep Wrangler. A control module in a car is basically the brains of the gang, as it manages all the functions associated with it. Modern cars have several, and since the ABS and TCS share a module, a problem with one system often results in both lights firing up.
The problem could also be with the module itself, so get your Jeep inspected right away if you see any indications of
traction control
or ABS issues. 

Damaged or dirty wheel speed sensors

A common cause of an illuminated ABS or TCS light is a failing
wheel speed sensor
. Both of these systems rely on a series of wheel speed sensors that provide information to the control module, which helps the control module determine what to do.  
Since they’re located on the wheels, these sensors get a lot of wear and tear—particularly in a rugged vehicle like a Jeep Wrangler. Some Jeep Wrangler owners reported that seriously dirty wheel sensors can trigger a TCS light, so if you’ve just been crashing around off-road and your TCS light won’t go off, you might want to give your Jeep a bath and see if that helps. 
MORE: Are Jeeps expensive to maintain?

Alignment problems

If your Jeep’s alignment is bad, this can trigger the ABS and/or the TCS warning lights. This goes back to those wheel sensors—if your alignment is wonky, then it’s likely to falsely trigger the sensors. If you’re also seeing uneven wear on your tires or your steering wheel is pulling to the right or the left, the issue might be your alignment. 
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Low tire pressure

The problem could even be something as basic as low tire pressure! Once again, those sensitive wheel speed sensors might interpret an improperly inflated tire as an issue with the ABS or TCS. Checking and adjusting your tire pressure is an easy (and inexpensive) thing to cross off your troubleshooting list. 
MORE: How often to check your car’s tire pressure

Blown fuses or low brake fluid

Another possible cause that isn’t too difficult to address is a blown fuse or low brake fluid. Being low on brake fluid is more likely to cause an ABS light, but the systems are pretty intertwined. 

Failing powertrain control module (PCM)

More module mayhem! The powertrain control module is the hard-working central computer for your Jeep—it manages engine function, the transmission, and more. If this module is faulty or damaged, it can result in illuminated ABS or TCS lights. 
MORE: How to choose an extended car warranty

Can you drive with the ABS and traction control lights on?

You can if you absolutely have to, but you’ll need to be exceedingly cautious. Drive gently and avoid any hard braking, and have your Jeep looked at by a mechanic as soon as possible.
Remember that the traction control light might come on in driving scenarios where the feature is activated, which is fine. But if the traction control or the ABS light stays on, it indicates a problem somewhere in the system. And while it could be something minor like low tire pressure, it could also be something more severe that could result in a loss of control when you’re driving. 
The ABS and TCS are important safety features, and it’s not wise to drive your Jeep unless they’re fully functional. 
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