Cars are tweaked to offer better performance to their users. Performance can be improved by optimizing various systems in a vehicle, one of these features is the Traction Control (TC).
However, what does TC mean on a car? The traction control (a subsystem of the braking system) is a feature usually found in modern cars that helps improve safety and driving experience.
This article will focus on the Traction Control system, how it works, and more.
Let’s get started!
What Does TC Mean on a Car?
The traction control system (TCS) identifies when a traction loss occurs among the car’s wheels. When it detects a wheel losing its grip on the road, the system either cut down the car’s engine power to the slipping wheel or automatically applies the brakes to that individual one.
If you should ever try running on a slippery surface, you will notice that you will be slow. Your lack of speed is mainly because of poor friction between your feet and the floor; you do not have enough traction.
The term ‘TC’ in your car refers to traction control. Traction control is a system built into your vehicle to help improve your car’s acceleration and prevent power loss due to slippage of your tires on the road.
This system enables your vehicle to ride better on icy and muddy surfaces with poor grip on your tires, causing over-spinning of wheels whenever you drive.
The traction control system of every car works based on a straightforward principle; once there’s an increased speed in one wheel over the rest, the brake system is activated to equalize the wheel speeds all-round, creating more friction between the road and the tire, which is overspeeding.
However, your vehicle might fix this problem in another way. Reduced traction signals can be sent to the Electronic Control Unit(ECU). The ECU then reduces the engine’s torque while activating the Automated Braking system to improve traction.
What Does TC Do on a Car?
The traction system consists of many sensors, providing real-time information to the traction control module. All vehicle traction control modules work hand-in-hand with the powertrain control modules to monitor all the wheel spinning speeds.
If these modules experience any irregularities that suggest slippage or loss of traction, they will immediately try and get it fixed.
First, the traction control module, through the help of the ECU, will engage the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) to redirect more braking power to the over-spinning wheel to allow it will gain more traction.
Next, once traction is regained, the ECU re-assigns the ABS to normalize braking power across all wheels.
But you must be careful because improved traction sometimes will not get you out of every condition. Sometimes the slippage may be more significant than your vehicle’s traction can handle. At this point, you will need to hire the services of a towing agency.
Also Read: What Sensors Can Cause a Car Not to Start? (Explained)
What Does “TC Light On” Mean on a Car
Whenever the traction control system fails, a prompt in the ECU will require the traction control light indicator to illuminate. This warning indicator indicates that you need to visit your mechanic as soon as possible to fix the problem.
Here are Some of the reasons why your traction control light might come on:
The Wheel Speed Sensor is Bad
As mentioned earlier, your vehicle’s wheel speed sensors detect the rotating speed of all the wheels and send this data to your ECU, which controls your traction control system through the traction control module.
If the sensors send false data, it could compromise the functionality of the traction control system.
Once this fault is noticed, the traction control light indicator is bound to come on. To fix this issue, you must replace the faulty wheel speed sensor(s)
A Bad Steering Angle Sensor
The steering angle sensor is another sensor that can mess with your traction control system’s functionality.
The steering angle sensor calculates the rate at which you turn your vehicle’s steering while driving. This information helps the ECU understand if your car is skidding or not.
The steering angle sensors work hand-in-hand with the Traction control system to improve the stability and handling of your vehicle.
Hence a faulty steering angle sensor will trigger the traction control light to come on.
The Road is Bad
Poor road condition is one common reason your traction control system might fail. Whenever you drive your vehicle on a poor road that decreases the traction of your wheel due to excessive slippage, your traction control system might malfunction after being put through a lot of stress to handle your driving condition properly. When this happens, the traction control indicator light will immediately turn on.
You must understand that your traction control system is not necessarily faulty in the above-case scenario and could quickly turn back off once you get off such roads.
How to Fix TC Light On
The traction control system can malfunction at any time, and it is best if you know a thing or two about fixing the traction control system of your vehicle.
Now, if you find yourself in a situation where your traction control light comes on, you must first try to park your car immediately and lawfully.
Next, You need to try restarting the car to know if it was just a mistake made by your Vehicle’s ECU.
If the traction control light is still on, then you know it might be severe.
You can try troubleshooting to find out the vehicle’s problem, or you could outsource the fixing of the traction control system to a professional mechanic to help you diagnose and fix the problem.
Also Read: Common Symptoms of a Bad Body Control Module (+ How to Fix)
Frequently Asked Questions – What Does TC Mean on a Car?
What happens if the traction control is off?
If the traction control system is off, you will have less control over the vehicle and have to overcome slippage when driving manually.
Should I drive with traction control on or off?
Driving with your traction control on is advisable because you will do more work if you drive with your traction control off
How much does it cost to fix traction control?
Fixing a traction control problem can cost you between $800 to $1000 as you need to use expensive equipment like OBD2 scanners.
Conclusion – What Does TC Mean on a Car?
The traction control system of any vehicle is one of the most critical systems that must function at total capacity to ensure a smooth ride.
The traction warning indicator will come on whenever the traction control system automatically tries to fix a traction problem while driving. To learn more about your vehicle’s traction control system, visit your vehicle’s owner manual.