What Does the Lexus IS250 Traction Control Light Mean?

The traction control light on your Lexus can indicate a properly functioning system, but it can also indicate a more serious problem.
Written by Rebecca Wardell
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
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The traction control light on your Lexus IS250 indicates a properly functioning traction control system if it blinks briefly, but a sustained traction control light can indicate a more serious problem.
Traction control systems are designed to keep you moving and safe in any weather. However, the traction control light can be confusing because it can signal either a functioning or malfunctioning traction control system.
This guide will walk you through common reasons that your traction control light turns on and how to decide if it’s time to head to a shop for a
car repair
.
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Why your Lexus IS250 traction control light turns on

The
traction control (TCS) light
is part of your vehicle’s traction control system. This system is in place to keep you safe while you’re driving in adverse conditions like rain, ice, snow, or poorly maintained roads. Here’s how it works.
Your Lexus has sensors that monitor each wheel’s speed and the speed of your vehicle. If any of your wheels spin faster than they should at the speed you’re driving, the traction control module can pulse the brakes on the affected wheels or reduce engine power. This is intended to help your vehicle regain traction on the road.
When your traction control system is working to restabilize your vehicle, you’ll see the TRAC light on. It looks like a little car with wavy skid lines. A blinking TRAC light is nothing to worry about—it’s something to be grateful for! A blinking TRAC light means your traction control system is functioning properly. 
This system is particularly beneficial if you have a rear-wheel drive Lexus IS250 because traction loss can cause the car to spin. It’s always a good idea to check out your Lexus
owner’s manual
for more information about your Lexus’ traction control system.
Dysfunction in any part of the traction control system can cause the TRAC light to light up and stay lit. Sometimes a lit-up TRAC light is accompanied by other warning lights. Either of these scenarios can be dangerous, and understanding the cause can be confusing. Here are some of the common causes of a
traction control malfunction
.  

Temporary loss of traction

It’s normal for the TRAC light to blink while driving on slippery roads. Icy or wet roads can result in a loss of traction between your wheels and the road. A blinking TRAC light means your system is engaged and keeping you safe.
If your TRAC light turns on and stays on or is accompanied by other lights like the check engine light, you might have a bigger problem to deal with. It’s a good idea to head to a mechanic for a
traction control light inspection
in this case.

Traction control system turned off

Before you go running to the mechanic, it’s a good idea to make sure your system isn’t just off. The traction control light can indicate a more serious problem, but it can also indicate that your traction control system has been deactivated.
Unless you
turn your traction control system off
, it remains on to keep you safe. To make sure your traction control is turned on, you can hold down the traction control button for 10 seconds. 

Faulty wheel speed sensors

One common issue with traction control systems is an issue with the sensors on the wheels. If there is an issue with any of these wheel speed sensors, your traction control light might light up. 
You can diagnose this issue by taking your Lexus to a repair shop to check the wheel speed sensors. If you’re feeling car savvy, you can use an OBD-II scan tool to check for
trouble codes
associated with these sensors. 

Anti-lock braking system (ABS) malfunction

Your traction control system and
anti-lock brake system
use the same control module. If there’s an issue with your ABS system, your traction control light will likely be accompanied by the
ABS system light
. Common ABS system issues include low brake fluid or a faulty brake pedal position sensor.
It’s best to head to a car repair shop if both the ABS light and traction control lights are on. 

Low tire pressure

The wheel sensors involved in the traction control system also monitor
low tire pressure
and may flag this as a traction problem. Alternatively, a faulty tire pressure monitoring system may also cause your TRAC light to come on.
If your traction control light isn’t accompanied by a check engine light or ABS light, it might be a good idea to check your tire pressure.

Broken TCS/ABS control module

The control module that works as part of both the traction control and anti-lock brake systems isn’t immune to malfunction. If both the check engine light and traction control light are on, a faulty control module might be the culprit.
It’s a good idea to take your Lexus to your local dealership or repair shop to check if the control module is functioning properly.

Can you drive with the traction control light on?

It is possible to continue driving if your Lexus’ traction control light is on, but keep in mind that the system  may not be functioning properly. This can be dangerous, especially in adverse driving conditions.
To recap: temporary blinking while driving on slippery roads is nothing to worry about. A sustained traction control light or a sustained traction control light accompanied by other lights can indicate a more serious problem—including the possibility that the traction control system is not functioning properly. 
Driving without a functioning traction control system can be dangerous, especially on slick roads.
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