As we continue to make advancements in science and technology, vehicles are becoming increasingly smarter, making them a lot safer.
Electronic stability control systems (ESCs) are a great example of such safety features. These traction control systems work with you to keep the car on the proper trajectory, sometimes doing the corrections for you.
StabiliTrak is a premier electronic stability control system found in General Motor (GM) vehicles and is one of the most advanced ESCs in the game today. However, it can be irritating when your car keeps displaying the “Service StabiliTrak” message!
So, what does that message mean, and what can you do about it? Read on to find out.
What Is StabiliTrak?
StabiliTrak is the name given to GM’s proprietary electronic stability control system. Electronic stability control systems are meant to help a car maintain its course by adjusting engine power and braking as necessary.
The StabiliTrak system consists of a Vehicle Stability Control Module that monitors the vehicle speed, yaw rate, and steering angle. The module then determines if corrective action is needed to maintain a straight path.
If corrections are needed, the StabiliTrak system will either activate the power steering or engine torque to keep the car on course.
The system will also help you keep the wheel pointed straight when braking. This is because, most of the time, over-correcting for a skid means that you are more likely to go into another skid.
How StabiliTrak Works
The StabiliTrak system uses sensors to determine the vehicle’s speed and angle.
The following sensors are included:
- Vehicle speed sensor – to detect the rate of acceleration or deceleration
- Yaw sensor − measures the yaw rate, which is essentially how much you’re trying to turn your car
- Steering wheel angle − measures the angle of the steering wheel
- The StabiliTrak system can be set to one of two modes:
- Off – no electronic stability control, just regular brakes. Not recommended for any vehicle type.
- On + − full mode, which means that the system will also apply your brakes to correct your trajectory.
The StabiliTrak control module runs a self-diagnostic test of all its components and sensors when you switch on your ignition.
When this diagnostic is complete, it displays a “System OK” message for 0.5 seconds. If all the sensors are working properly, the “Service StabiliTrak” message will not be displayed.
What Does Service StabiliTrak Mean?
The Service StabiliTrak message usually means that there is an issue with your StabiliTrak system. This can be in the form of a failure in the system or a lack of proper calibration.
Below, learn more about the ins and outs of Service StabiliTrak.
How Do You Troubleshoot Service StabiliTrak?
Before you do anything drastic when resolving Stabilitrak issues, it is important to realize that the car has not malfunctioned. The program is simply letting you know that there may be an issue with one of its systems.
If this is the first time your car has displayed the message, you should get it looked at by a proper professional. It’s possible that nothing needs to be done about it, but it’s also possible that an issue has cropped up in either the system or its calibration.
If your car is displaying the “Service StabiliTrak” message after the first time, then it is possible that your StabiliTrak system has failed or become un-calibrated. If this happens, you should get your car looked at by a professional as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to troubleshoot the system yourself. However, if you find nothing wrong with the StabiliTrak system, you should keep an eye on all other systems in your car.
The reason for this is that there are many other issues that can cause a Service StabiliTrak message to be displayed. For instance, problems with the ABS or TPMS sensors could potentially cause your car to display the message.
In the end, you should never ignore a Service StabiliTrak message. Your car may be trying to tell you something, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
What Causes the StabiliTrak Light to Come On?
As mentioned, there are numerous reasons why your car might display the “Service StabiliTrak” message. However, the following are the most common reasons:
1. Trouble With the Input Sensor
The input sensor for the StabiliTrak system is what monitors your car’s steering angle and yaw rate.
If the input sensor malfunctions, then there is a chance that it might not be able to provide accurate information to the Vehicle Stability Control Module.
2. Issues With the Power Steering Sensor
The power steering sensor works in tandem with the input sensor.
This is because it provides data to the Vehicle Stability Control Module on how much assistance your car’s power steering system is providing you with while driving.
If this sensor malfunctions, then it might not be able to tell your car when more or less assistance is needed.
3. Your Output Sensor Is Malfunctioning
The output sensor works by sending data to the Vehicle Stability Control Module about how much torque is being transmitted to each wheel.
As a result, if this sensor malfunctions, then it might not be able to provide accurate information about your car’s engine power.
4. Trouble With the PowerTrain
Your vehicle’s power train system consists of several components that work together to provide power to the wheels.
As a result, if any of these components malfunction, it might not provide enough engine power for the StabiliTrak system.
5. The Stability Control Module Is Misbehaving
The Stability Control Module is responsible for monitoring all of your car’s systems in order to keep it on course and stable on the road.
This means that if the controller malfunctions, then there is a chance that it might not be able to monitor all of your car’s systems accurately.
6. The ABS Module Is Defective
The ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) detects when the wheels of your vehicle are skidding and climbs across the brake discs so you can maintain control of your vehicle.
If the ABS Module malfunctions, then it might be unable to control your car’s brake system.
7. A Faulty Controller
The controller is responsible for taking all of the information provided by your car’s sensors and creating a type of feedback on how best to control your car.
If this controller malfunctions, then there is a chance that it might not be able to provide you with the type of feedback that would help maintain control over your vehicle.
8. A Bad Connection
When the GM-LAN communication line is damaged, then the StabiliTrak system might be unable to send data from your car’s sensors to the StabiliTrak controller.
As a result, the StabiliTrak system will not be able to monitor your car’s stability properly.
How to Reset the Service StabiliTrak Light
As mentioned, it is crucial that you take your vehicle to a mechanic once you notice the StabiliTrak warning light.
They will help you diagnose the issue, which can sometimes be serious. Nipping the problem in the bud can save you a lot of trouble.
However, at times, the “Service StabiliTrak” message might simply be a slight error on the car’s part.
To determine if that is the case, pull over and turn off the vehicle. Wait for at least 30 seconds before starting the engine. If it was a simple error, the notification should go away.
However, if the message persists, you should take the car to a professional repair shop or local dealer for further diagnosis.
How Much Does It Cost to Fix Service StabiliTrak?
The cost of repairing your Service StabiliTrak will depend on the dealer or repair shop based on various factors. They include the type of car you have, the issue with your vehicle’s StabiliTrak system, and how much time is required to diagnose the problem.
In general, expect to pay between $100-$300 for a simple diagnosis or part replacement. For more complicated problems with the StabiliTrak system, it may cost up to $500 to fix.
The time it will take to fix the issue will depend on your dealer or local mechanic. However, one would expect the process to take at least an hour, while a full diagnosis could take between 3-5 hours.
Is Warranty Available for Repairing Service StabiliTrak?
Since various issues cause the service Stabilitrak light, the warranty available for this specific problem will vary as well.
For example, if your car does not have enough engine power due to a bad fuel injector or spark plug, then you may be eligible for a full refund or rebate under your warranty.
However, if the malfunction is caused by damage to the GM-LAN line – which is responsible for sending data from the car’s sensors to the StabiliTrak controller – then you might not be eligible for a full refund or rebate under your warranty.
In general, however, whether or not your warranty covers fixing the Service StabiliTrak message will depend on its cause. If it is minor, then there is a chance that your warranty will cover the cost of labor and/or replacement parts.
However, in some cases, you may have to pay for the repair out-of-pocket or look for a warranty that covers service on your specific car model.
Can I Drive My Car if It Says Service StabiliTrak?
Yes, you can. However, without that functionality, then you might not be able to maintain control over your steering or braking.
Pull over and turn off the car if you notice this issue. You should also allow the car to sit for at least 30 seconds before starting it to see if the service StabiliTrak message goes away.
However, since there are no safety concerns, you can still drive your car with the Service StabiliTrak light on. This will just mean that you cannot use that particular feature of your car.
What Happens When StabiliTrak Is Off?
When you turn off your car’s StabiliTrak system, your vehicle becomes less stable. In simple terms, doing this will make it more difficult to keep control over the steering wheel and brakes.
Therefore, unless you have a valid reason for turning off this feature – such as if you’re driving on a very icy road – then it is not recommended.
Otherwise, you run the risk of crashing into another car or potentially causing an accident on your own.
How to Turn Off StabiliTrak
Sometimes, turning StabiliTrak off allows you to have better control of the vehicle, especially when you want to get out of murky situations.
Since StabiliTrak essentially reduces overall power, turning it off might allow you to pull through muddy conditions without a lot of trouble.
To turn off this feature, start your car and press the StabiliTrak button until a bar appears on the screen. Once you have done this, the feature will be disabled.
Nonetheless, for the most part, you should always have your StabiliTrak system on to improve the overall control over your vehicle.
How to Turn Off Traction Control on Other Vehicles
If you drive a different make or model, then you can check with your owner’s manual to see how to turn off the traction control feature on your vehicle.
Generally, there is one dedicated button located within the car’s main menu. Once you find it, all you need to do is press the button to turn off or uncheck it.
How Do I Fix Service StabiliTrak?
As mentioned, fixing the service StabiliTrak issue is a bit more complicated. That is because it could result from numerous issues.
However, you can still fix this issue by:
- Getting the car’s engine checked if your fuel injector is clogged
- Replacing your spark plug if it is defective
- Getting the car’s engine checked for any possible issues with the fuel line or fuel filter
If you have already done this, then you can try resetting your car’s computer. To do this, you will need to disconnect the battery cables. Unhook the negative cable first. After that, you should reconnect everything and start your car.
If these steps do not work to fix the service StabiliTrak warning light on your dashboard, then you might need to get in touch with an auto repair shop or dealership about possible replacements for your vehicle’s computer system.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The following section should help answer any other queries you might have about the StabiliTrak system:
What Does It Mean When My Equinox Says Service Stabilitrak?
This means that your car’s StabiliTrak system is not working properly or one of your car’s systems has malfunctioned. Have your car checked by a local repair person if the light persists.
What Does Service Stabilitrak Mean on a Cadillac?
This means your Cadillac’s StabiliTrak system is malfunctioning. Therefore, you should have your car serviced as soon as possible.
What Does Service Stabilitrak Mean on Chevy Malibu?
Your Chevy Malibu’s electronic stability control system might be having issues. As such, have it checked out as soon as possible to resolve the problem.
What Does Service Stabilitrak Mean on GMC Terrain?
Your GMC Terrain’s StabiliTrak system might be having problems. As such, have your vehicle checked immediately to avoid accidents.
What Does Service Stabilitrak Mean on GMC Acadia?
Your GMC Acadia’s StabiliTrak system might be malfunctioning. If this is the case, then it is best to have your car checked as soon as possible.
What Does Service Stabilitrak Mean on a Chevy Equinox?
Your Chevy Equinox’s StabiliTrak system might be compromised. Since this feature is designed to help you maintain control over your car, it is best to address the problem as quickly as possible.