What Does the Nissan Traction Control Light Mean?

The Nissan traction control light could mean that your stability control system is working well or that there is a serious malfunction. Here’s how to tell.
Written by Claire Beaney
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
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A Nissan traction control warning light can mean two things—if it briefly turns on in rough conditions, your traction control system is keeping your vehicle stable. But if the light stays on, the system is disabled, which can put you at risk.  
When that indicator light blinks on, should you take your car in
for service
or just keep going? Check out the most common causes for your Nissan's traction control light to come on to figure it out.

Why your Nissan traction control light turns on

The
traction control (TCS) light
is one of the most confusing lights on a Nissan dash. That's because the light doesn't always mean something is wrong—it can also mean that the system is on and working well.
By keeping track of the speed of each wheel through sensors in the wheel bearing assembly, the traction control system can tell when there is a loss of traction in dangerous conditions.
If the sensors find a problem, they will notify the traction control module. The module will then send a short pulse of braking to the wheel(s) in question. When this happens, the TRAC light, which usually looks like a car with wavy skid lines behind its wheels, will briefly illuminate to show that the system has been turned on.
You can read your owner’s manual to find out more about the traction control system in your Nissan.
The traction control light will come on if there is a problem with the sensors, wheels, or control modules that make up this system. Let's check out what might have
gone wrong with the traction control system
.
MORE: Nissan AWD cars
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Temporary loss of traction

Keep in mind that your traction control light is supposed to come on when you're driving in conditions where there's not much grip. Your wheels could lose grip if it rains or
snows
a lot, and you might see the light turn on and off as this happens.
In slippery conditions, it's normal for the TCS light to come on and off. If the light stays on or comes on with other warning lights, you may have a problem. If this happens, take the car to a mechanic for an
inspection
.

Anti-lock braking system (ABS) malfunction

The control module that regulates your vehicle's traction control system also regulates your
anti-lock brake system
. The traction control warning light will most likely turn on in tandem with the ABS light if there is an issue with the anti-lock brakes.
If your Nissan's ABS light is illuminated along with the traction control indicator light, it's time to have the stability control system checked out.

Low tire pressure

Low tire pressure is a common cause of TCS issues. The wheel sensors in your vehicle may mistake low tire pressure for a traction issue and activate the TCS warning light. This problem could also result from a malfunctioning tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).
If your traction control light illuminates and no other warning lights turn on, it's time to check your tire pressure.

Faulty wheel speed sensors

A
failing wheel speed sensor
is a common contributor to TCS failure. These sensors can fail over time due to the harsh environment they are constantly exposed to while mounted on the wheels of your Nissan. 
In addition to faulty electronic components, a malfunctioning steering wheel position sensor can render the system ineffective.
Take your car in to get the wheel speed sensors checked if the traction control light won't go out. OBD-II scan tools can also be used to look for sensor-related
trouble codes
.

Broken TCS/ABS control module

The control module for your Nissan's traction control and anti-lock braking systems may fail, resulting in the service traction control light turning on. You might also notice that the check engine light is on.
If the indicator remains illuminated even under normal driving circumstances, take the car to a mechanic or your local Nissan dealership to have the control module checked.

Can you drive with the traction control light on?

You can drive your Nissan even if the traction control light is on, but you should be careful in rough weather.
Again, if the light comes on briefly while driving on bad roads, that's normal and indicates that the system is functioning as intended. 
But wheel slip could increase on slippery roads if the system is disabled due to a persistent light—so driving without your Nissan's traction control system working is risky business.
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