Service StabiliTrak Message: Meaning, Causes, Reset & How to Fix

Nowadays, the latest car models are coming up with improved and modern stability control systems, and StabiliTrak is one of them. Typically, this brand is specially designed for General Motors (GM) as its stability control system, but there are other stability control systems with different names available for different brands. When your StabiliTrak system goes bad, the computer of your car triggers the “Service StabiliTrak message.”

The main purpose of StabiliTrak is to maintain the stability of the vehicle’s path or direction during a drive. It achieves this stability control by monitoring and adjusting the traction, brakes, and steering wheel of the vehicle.

Whenever the vehicle faces any issue with your StabiliTrak, the powertrain control module (PCM) triggers the Service StabiliTrak light on the dashboard of your car. After getting the message, you have to search for the main reason and fix the issue quickly. This article mainly explains why your car triggers the Service StabiliTrak message. And how to fix the Service StabiliTrak message?  

What is a StabiliTrak?

StabiliTrak is a stability control system that helps to improve the stability and control of the vehicle while driving.

It is a type of electronic stability control (ESC) system that utilizes the data of different sensors and uses computer-controlled algorithms to detect and correct potential skids or loss of control.


General Motors (GM) introduced the StabiliTrak. You can easily find this system in the GM.

The main function of the StabiliTrak is to prevent the wheels of your car from slipping in low-traction conditions by decreasing the engine power. Some almost identical systems are also available in the market with various names. So, manufacturers other than GM apply the other nearest systems to their vehicles.

While driving your vehicle, the StabiliTrak system of your vehicle manages the brakes and tends to move the vehicle in a straight and aligned path. This system behaves equally with each wheel and works to control their speed through brakes. This system acts like the car traction control system and keeps the car stable while driving.

This stability control system keeps the vehicle traveling in a straight line and prevents it from moving in a zigzag or unstable manner. It uses the reading of the steering wheel position sensor and compares the position of the steering wheel and tires to the vehicle’s path.

In the event of an unstable or zigzag motion, this system immediately issues a warning known as a “Service StabiliTrak Message.”

What Does Service StabiliTrak Message Mean?

The Service StabiliTrak message represents a problem with the StabiliTrak system of your vehicle.

This message is typically triggered because of a problem with the steering wheel angle or tire’s location. But if all parts are working normally, the system will automatically respond to the oversteer or understeer.

Service StabiliTrak Message

While driving on a slippery surface, this system improves the stability and safety of your vehicle on its own.

When the StabiliTrak sensor goes bad, the vehicle system will show a warning on the vehicle dashboard. With this illuminated alert on the dashboard, you can believe that your electronic stability control is not working according to the requirements. This situation does not appear to be dangerous, but it is advised that you should resolve it as soon as possible.

Working of StabiliTrak

StabiliTrak is a stability control system that maintains and controls the stability of your vehicle in difficult driving situations. Yaw rate, steering angle, and speed of the car are the factors that are monitored by this system by comparing the drivers’ actions and the readings of the steering wheel sensors.

This control system controls the path of the vehicle by monitoring the deviations in the path of the vehicle and the actual path. When this system detects that the vehicle has deviated from its expected path, it then applies brakes individually to each wheel and changes the engine power to get the car back on its intended path.

The StabiliTrak system lonely can’t work efficiently. It takes help from other systems of the vehicle (like the anti-lock braking system (ABS) and traction control system) to provide a better and more stable system to improve the car’s stability. In cases of oversteering and understeering, it prevents the vehicle from slipping or losing traction.

One important feature of StabiliTrak is that it assists you in maintaining full control over the car in bad weather conditions like rain, snow, or storms to avoid accidents. It is one of the safest safety features.

Reasons for the Service StabiliTrak Message

The Service StabiliTrak message is most commonly triggered due to braking, steering wheel, or traction control systems problems. Faults in the throttle sensors, a bad steering angle, and a bad ABS sensor are also the major causes of this message.

The whole Stabilitrak system works with the help of the steering wheel, ABS system, and traction control. There is also the possibility that some factors other than these systems may also create issues in the StabiliTrak system of your car.

The following are the major causes of the Service StabiliTrak message:

  • Faulty throttle position sensor
  • A manually pushed StabiliTrak button may also trigger this message constantly
  • Issues with ABS sensor
  • Bad brake switches
  • Bad steering angle sensor
  • The use of E85 fuel
  • Worn-out spark plug
  • An issue with the ABS system
  • Bad or clogged spark plug
  • Defected fuel pumps
  • An issue with the brake system
  • Issues with ignition coils
  • Mismatched tire sizes, incorrect tire pressure, or uneven tire wear
  • Damaged or corroded electrical connections between modules, sensors, and the vehicle’s wiring
  • Faults in the Active Fuel Management (AFM) system
  • Defective engine control module

So, these are the various problems that can trigger the StabiTrak light on your vehicle’s dashboard. Usually, bad sensors are the biggest recorded reason for this message. Also, the unavailability of the required readings from the sensors may cause the entire system to shut down.

You can find the exact issue by reading the trouble code through a code scanner.  

Many drivers claim that the StabiliTrak message can be removed simply by adding convectional quality gasoline instead of the E85 fuel because E85 fuel may also trigger this message. So, if your car triggers this message right after filling the tank, then there can be E85 fuel behind this message.

Symptoms of Service StabiliTrak Issues

The following are some of the main symptoms of an issue with the StabiliTrak service:

  • The illumination of the StabikiTrak warning light on your vehicle dashboard.
  • Nonfunctional accelerator paddle
  • Strange noise coming from the engine compartment
  • Your vehicle is in limp mode. The main computer of your vehicle turns on limp mode when it triggers an issue with your vehicle system.
  • Trouble codes related to a faulty steering wheel sensor, a faulty speed sensor, or an ABS malfunction.

Are StabiliTrak and Traction Control Systems the same?

No, the traction control system and StabiliTrak are different systems. However, both of these systems improve the stability and traction of the vehicle by using different features.

During high acceleration, the traction control system assists the vehicle in remaining stable and prevents it from slipping on slippery surfaces. The traction system achieves this goal by controlling the engine power or through the application of brakes on the wheels individually. 

While StabiliTrak is classified as an improved stability control system that improves the overall stability of your car under various traveling situations. The StabiliTrak of your vehicle accomplishes this goal by controlling and monitoring the engine power and applying brakes on each wheel.

StabiliTrak system controls the stability by utilizing the information of different sensors to measure the yaw rate, steering angle, and vehicle speed. 

For a better understanding, you can say that the traction control system is a subset of the StabiliTrak system. The StabiliTrak system is a compact overall system that addresses various vehicle handling and stability issues.

In some vehicles, both of these systems are present and work independently. In some other vehicles, they work together as a single advanced stability control system.

How to reset the Service StabiliTrak Message

The appearance of the StabiliTrack light on your vehicle’s dashboard indicates that there is a problem with your vehicle’s stability control system. A computer or software failure in your car can shut down your vehicle.

Follow the below-given steps to reset your vehicle’s Service StabiliTrak light:

  • As the Service StabiliTrak Message appears on your car dashboard, park your car in a safe place.
  • Shut down the engine of your car engine and also turn off all other electrical parts.
  • Disconnect the battery by pulling over the negative terminal of your car’s battery. At this point, all previous codes will be removed from your vehicle’s system.
  • Wait for 15 minutes.
  • Reconnect the negative terminal of your battery.
  • Turn the vehicle’s engine on and wait for a few minutes.
  • Run the vehicle for a few minutes. Contact the professional if the Service Stabilitrak message again appears on your vehicle dashboard.

Is it safe to drive with the StabiliTrak Light On?

If you have decided to deactivate StabiliTrak, there’s nothing wrong with the system, and you can drive normally. Just remember that with StabiliTrak off, your vehicle won’t have traction control, which may lead to tires slipping on slippery surfaces. In such conditions, drive carefully to avoid a collision or accident.

But if your StabiliTrak is disabled due to a malfunction, it’s important to inspect it properly. First, find out what’s wrong by looking at the error codes. Then you can decide if driving is safe. In certain situations, you may wait to fix it if you’re okay with driving without traction control.

Keep in mind, that certain issues might cause additional troubles. If the issue causing StabiliTrak malfunction is also leading to other troubles, it is recommended to fix the issue promptly.

How to fix the Service StabiliTrak message?

  • Replacing the faulty throttle position sensor
  • Replacing the bad Active Fuel Management (AFM) system
  • Fixing the manually pushed StabiliTrak button
  • Replacing the bad ABS sensor
  • Replacing the bad tire pressure monitor sensor
  • Replacing the bad brake switches
  • Replacing the bad steering wheel position sensor
  • Use of a quality fuel instead of E85 fuel
  • Fixing the issues related to ignition coils
  • Replacing the faulty spark plug
  • Replacing the faulty fuel pumps

FAQ Section

Can I drive if the StabiliTrak light is on?

The Service StabiliTrack warning light shows that there is an issue with the stability control system of your vehicle. Driving with this message may lead to some serious accidents. Therefore, you shouldn’t drive with the Service StabiliTrack warning light and resolve it as early as possible.

Driving with a bad stability control system increases the chances of an accident and may make controlling the car more challenging.

How much does it cost to fix the Service StabiliTrak message?

The fixing or repair cost of the service StabiliTrak message varies according to the labor cost and the severity level of the problem. The fixing cost of the service StabiliTrak is usually between $70 and $210. Try to fix this issue as early as possible.

Can low transmission fluid cause StabiliTrak?

No. Hard shifting can be caused by low transmission control because of the metallic parts that barely brush against one another. But there is no connection between the StabiliTrak and low transmission fluid.

Which sensor controls the StabiliTrak?

StabiliTrak helps your car to be stabilized by maintaining a straight path while moving in the event of traction loss. Wheel speed sensors, steering wheel position sensors, and ECM all of them perform together to control the vehicle.

Does StabiliTrak have an effect on the transmission?

Yes, a StabiliTrak may affect your transmission. When this system activates, it puts forces on the wheels to stabilize them. As a response to this force, resistance, and drag forces can be produced, which can result in fluctuating the wheel rotation and movement of the car.

Can StabiliTrak cause a car to stall?

Yes, StabiliTrak has the ability to stall the engine when your stability control system goes bad. In the case of the fishtailing condition, it cannot help the car to be stable and move properly. In such conditions, your car will not have sufficient power to overcome the problems, and so it may stall.

Is it possible that a car cannot start due to StabiliTrak?

No. The stabiliTrack system doesn’t stop your vehicle from starting, but it may cause problems in the electronic system that can indirectly be the reason for starting issues.

What causes StabiliTrak problems?

Common problems associated with the StabiliTrak system include wiring issues, defective sensors, and a faulty engine control module. If your vehicle’s StabiliTrak service light is illuminated, it’s advisable to seek professional inspection and necessary repairs.

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