StabiliTrak Service: The Meaning, Causes, Fixes & Warranty

By September 3, 2022Common Questions

The Service StabiliTrak warning shows a problem with the StabiliTrak control modules. It signals to the driver that there could be an issue with the brake system, traction, or steering wheel. The warning may come with other warning lights, like the ABS warning light, making diagnosing easy.

Most times, the Service StabiliTrak warning light appears alone; you should either take your vehicle to a professional for proper diagnosis and repair, or you can do it yourself. It is always better to take it to a professional, but it might cost you more. 

Personally, I have experienced a Service StabiliTrak with my Silverado 1500. I experienced a little uncontrolled movement with the steering and wheels, especially when idle. That was all I could notice; however, once detected, we recommend a visit to a service center

In this article, I will focus on Service StabiliTrak, its causes, and how to fix them.

StabiliTrak is a safety device installed in a vehicle that uses sensors. It helps regulate the movement of your car while driving by ensuring it moves in a stable position. The device controls or adjusts the steering, traction, and brakes. 

In recent times safety has been a major priority for car manufacturers.More innovations have contributed to the safety of your car over the years. One of those innovations is StabiliTrak. StabiliTrak was introduced by General Motors in 1997, and since then, it has been used by other motor brands.

StabiliTrak is not available in all vehicles. It is only available in cars sold under the GM brand and other car brands with traction control. 

StabiliTrak constantly tracks the direction your vehicle is moving using its sensors. These sensors are placed strategically in the car and work by comparing the wheel direction with the steering feedback.

If the wheel direction and the steering feedback do not correspond, then the StabiliTrak moves in for a correction. 

The Service StabiliTrak functions better in low tractions, like slippery or snowy roads. It is very easy for your car to lose control on roads like this and needs some help to balance and not lose control. At this point, the Service StabiliTrak comes into play. It will reduce power before activating the brake and then correct the vehicle’s direction.  

What Does ‘Service StabiliTrak’ Mean?

Service StabiliTrak is a warning light that comes up when there is a problem with the StabiliTrak system. The light is not normal and should not be ignored. It could cause further damage to other parts of the vehicle or put the car in limp mode.  

However, StabiliTrak can malfunction or fail to work, a common problem with Chevy or GM products. Once it fails or malfunctions, the Service StabiliTrak warning comes on.

There are a lot of factors that could put your car in this situation. It makes it quite hard to diagnose or fix the issue without the help of a professional. However, it is not impossible to diagnose or fix the problem with your StabiliTrak, especially when the cause is not a serious one and is more recognizable. 

It is important to know that StabiliTrak is not suitable for all difficult situations when driving your vehicle. Most especially when driving on rocky or hilly paths.

Your car needs more power to move in such environments, but StabiliTrak reduces power when facing problems. It could also trigger the service StabiliTrak warning light. Switching off StabiliTrak or any stability or traction control system is the best in this situation. 

7 Causes for The Service StabiliTrak Light To Come On

Service StabiliTrak can come up when there is an issue with the system’s sensors. It can also be triggered when there is a problem with the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) and the StabiliTrak system.

Although, these are not the only cause of the light. It can also come up due to external factors such as a problem with the alternator or fuel pump.

Many people do not understand what the StabiliTrak light means when it appears on their dashboard. They tend to ignore it. Even when they know what it means, they do not really know what may cause it to come up. 

First, the Service StabiliTrak light shows something is wrong with the system. This could be due to the road you are driving on. As we have mentioned earlier, the Service StabiliTrak deals with traction control, brake system, and steering wheel control. The StabiliTrak could be triggered if the system encounters a problem with any of these.   

However, the most common issues are unrelated to the brake, steering wheel, or traction. This is why when diagnosing what may be the problem with your StabiliTrak, you need to make a deep diagnosis or, better still, leave it to a professional. 

There are some common causes of the Service StabiliTrak light, and we will discuss them below.

1. Failed Connection 

Powertrain Control Module (The brain of a car).

The most common cause of the Service StabiliTrak light is a failure in connection. The StabiliTrak system uses sensors, which are all connected to the Powertrain Control Module (PCM).

In case you do not know what the PCM is, it is the car’s brain responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the engine, transmission, and other important parts of the vehicle. 

Once there is a disconnection between the sensors and the PCM, then the Service StabiliTrak light will be triggered. 

2. Bad Powertrain Control Module (PCM)

Another common issue that could trigger the Service StabiliTrak light is the PCM. The PCM is responsible for making sure the car is working smoothly. It communicates with all the vehicle’s major parts, and all sensors are connected to the PCM. 

The PCM can get damaged or malfunction and may not interpret the signals sent as it should. 

3. Faulty Input Sensor

Power Steering Sensor

Power Steering Sensor (Input sensor that could cause ‘Service StabiliTrak’ Warning

The input sensors are important parts of the StabiliTrak system. They communicate with the PCM given important data from the steering position, wheel speed, or turn level.

Once any of the input sensors gets faulty, it triggers a Service StabiliTrak; this is because no data is coming from these components to the car to the PCM. 

Which muffler is your car right now?

4. Power Steering Sensor problems

Your vehicle has a sensor located in the steering; The function of this sensor is to communicate the steering direction to the PCM. The sensor works together with the input sensor.

Once this sensor is faulty and does not give information about the steering direction, the Service StabiliTrak will not be able to determine the steering direction. Any problem with this sensor will trigger the StabiliTrak light.

5. ABS Module Issues

ABS Module

The ABS module plays an important role in the proper functioning of the Service StabiliTrak system. It determines if the vehicle’s tires are moving in the right position in response to the steering.

If not, it quickly notifies the StabiliTrak system, which then deploys brakes and makes corrections. If the ABS module is faulty, the StabiliTrak light will come up because it cannot manage the tires.

6. Faulty Alternator

Car Alternator

A faulty alternator will trigger the check engine light and the StabiliTrak light. The alternator is an important part of the vehicle that helps power up major components of the car, including the PCM and StabiliTrak system. If it goes bad, this system cannot function properly.

The light will come as soon as the alternator begins to fail before it can affect other vehicle components. It gives you enough time to diagnose and fix the problem with the alternator or replace it before it finally fails. 

7. ABS sensors issues

The StabiliTrak system uses the ABS tools such as the ABS sensor to function. It is the reason when anything happens to the ABS sensors, the Service StabiliTrak comes on alongside the ABS warning light.

When the sensors sense a problem with the vehicle’s movement, the ABS system can deploy or apply the brakes. It instantly stops the car from slipping away. After this is done, the wheels can then be corrected. If the ABS sensors are not working properly, this process can be altered, causing the vehicle to drift away. 

There are also many other causes of Service StabiliTrak that are unrelated to the above mentioned and are not common. They include:

  1. Faulty Fuel pump
  2. Active Fuel Management 
  3. Damaged spark plugs 
  4. Damaged tire pressure monitor sensor. 

Can I Drive With Service StabiliTrak?

It is possible to drive your car with the StabiliTrak light on, but it is not advisable. The Service StabiliTrak may be caused by different things, which may determine the level of risk attached to driving.

The Service StabiliTrak light can be triggered by a failed connection between the sensors and the PCM. At this point, the risk of driving with this problem may not be high.

All you need to do is fix the connection between the sensors and the PCM. The only way it could pose a risk is if you are driven on a low traction road and your vehicle goes out of control. The service StabiliTrak system may not be able to work properly with a disconnected sensor. 

If you have a StabiliTrak light caused by a faulty ABS brake, driving your car in a low traction area would be risky. The ABS module helps your car restore tractions and steer better when drifting out of place. If the ABS is faulty, it cannot perform this function properly.

You can not also watch out for other indications with the Service StabiliTrak Light; this will help you know how serious the issue is. If Service StabiliTrak comes with a red brake symbol and Service StabiliTrak message, your vehicle may not be able to execute any StabiliTrak feature. You must visit a professional at this point. 

Also, watch out for the StabiliTrak message when accelerating or decelerating. When speeding and the light comes on, it may mean that your vehicle’s brakes may need service. If it appears when decelerating, it may mean a general problem with the StabiliTrak system. 

If the light flashes while driving on a low traction road, it is okay; this means the system is working fine.

Some signs may occur when you drive your vehicle with a Service StabiliTrak. Some of these signs include the following. 

1. Reduced Power

You may notice a reduced power while driving your vehicle, especially when trying to accelerate. Your vehicle may not pick up speed like it used to. It is a sign of bad or malfunctioned StabiliTrak. 

When experiencing this, check if your vehicle is in Limp mode. When the system detects an issue, this mode could drastically reduce power to properly manage this issue. At this point, it is best to take your car to a professional to fix it. 

2. Unpredictable Steering Movement

Unnecessary and uncontrolled movement with the steering is another common sign of a failing StabiliTrak or as already failed. This problem is mainly traced to a malfunctioned control unit and needs to be fixed before it becomes more serious. 

3. Disturbing Sounds

When you start hearing rubbing or whirring sounds after the Service StabiliTrak light comes on, it could be related to the failed system. It has become a common complaint from users, especially after the warning StarbiliTrak light comes up. 

Apart from these symptoms, many codes can also come during diagnoses, which could be traced to the failed StabiliTrak system. These codes may include C0561, a problem with the ABS module, and P0521 engine oil pressure sensor issues, among others.   

How Do I Fix Service StabiliTrak?

You can easily fix the Service StabiliTrak light by resetting the system, and this can be done by anyone with the right steps.

If the Service StabiliTrak is yellow, there is a malfunction with the system. The warning can easily be reset by disconnecting the battery of your vehicle. If this does not work, you can follow the steps below. 

  1. Pull over to a suitable and safe position.
  2. Turn off the vehicle and allow it to stay off for 15 to 20 minutes. It will help reset the system. 
  3. Hit the gas pedal about 5 times in 5 to 8 seconds. 
  4. This should solve the light issue if it does not repeat the process. 

If this does not help, you need to visit a professional to help fix the light issue, and other underlying problems could be diagnosed.

Although, you can reset the Service StabiliTrak using a scan tool. It is not advisable to use this method without professional assistance. If you feel you have experience with the scan tool and can use it perfectly, here is a procedure on how to do so. 

  1. Turn off your engine and find the diagnostic port.
  2. Proceed to connect the scanner
  3. Now turn on the engine 
  4. Select your car’s model and then allow the scanner to run a diagnosis.
  5. Take down all the code displayed on the scanner. 
  6. Try and fix those problems. 
  7. After fixing your vehicle’s problems, you can plug in your scanner and start the engine.
  8. Clear the codes and then turn off your vehicle and unplug the scanner
  9. Allow the engine to sit for a while. Then go on to start it again. 
  10. The light should be gone at this point. 

How Much Does It Cost To Fix StabiliTrak?

Fixing a StabiliTrak may cost as little as $30 to $200. The price varies depending on the brand of vehicle and its underlying problems. However, the price to fix it is quite affordable, seeing how complicated the system may be. 

Labor cost is another factor that could influence the cost of repairing a StabiliTrak. The StabiliTrak system could be complicated to fix, and the best way to fix it is to hire a professional.

Professional assistance will cost up to $100. The cost will vary depending on how complicated the problem is and what part of the country you are living in.

If you are fixing the problem yourself, you can expect the cost to be less expensive. Although it is not impossible to fix Service StabiliTrak by yourself, it may be a bit difficult due to its complicated nature.  

Is StabiliTrak Covered Under Warranty?

StabiliTrak is not covered under any Chevy or GM warranty policy because it does not fall under the category of parts listed in the warranty policy. 

The Chevy and GM warranty often include a Bumper-to-Bumper limited warranty, emission control system warranty, roadside assistance warranty, and powertrain limited warranty, among others.

People often mistake thinking that the StabiliTrak is covered under the limited powertrain warranty. However, the limited powertrain warranty covers components in the engine (engine block, cylinder head, manifolds, etc.), transmission/Transaxle, and transfer case and drive system (shafts, universal joints, etc.). 

The StabiliTrak system is a component of the Chassis and not the powertrain. The Chassis is considered the vehicle’s frame; it is the foundation structure supporting the car from below. The Chassis carries the weight of the can when static and moving. 

The StabiliTrak system is also a component of the abs/traction control computer. Unfortunately, these components are not covered. You can refer to your vehicle’s manual to see the list of vehicle parts that the warranty covers. You can also see parts of your car that the warranty does not cover. 

If you cannot find the manual for your vehicle, you can also visit your vehicle brands site to order a new one.    

FAQs

Q: Can fuel pumps cause StabiliTrak?

Your fuel pump may cause a Service StabiliTrak, although the StabiliTrak is not a fuel system component. There have been complaints that the code E85 fuel shows during diagnosis for Service StabiliTrak issues. Once the fuel pump issue had been fixed, the light immediately went off. 

The fuel pump issues are uncommon issues that could lead to Service StabiliTrak but cannot be ruled out. It is why you need to have a proper diagnosis done when the warning is triggered. 

Q: Is there a sensor for StabiliTrak?

The StabiliTrak uses sensors to track the direction of the steering and wheel to ensure that they correlate with each other. These sensors can be seen on the wheels and the steering.

The sensors communicate with the PCM to ensure that if there is a problem or the car drifts out of place, there can be swift action to prevent accidents. 

Sensors associated with the StabiliTrak include the steering wheel position sensor, which monitors the steering position. Another sensor related to the StabiliTrak system is the ABS sensor which monitors the movement of the wheels. 

Q: How do you reset service StabiliTrak?

There are different ways to reset the Service StabiliTrak. You can make use of the scan tool to reset the system. It may prove to be complicated, especially when you do not have experience with a scan tool.

You could also follow a simple step by disconnecting your vehicle’s battery for a while. It will only work if the issue with the system is not that serious. 

If these do not work out, you should take your vehicle to a professional.   

Q: Will StabiliTrak keep the car from starting?

StabiliTrak will not stop your vehicle from starting; it has nothing to do with ignition. However, if there is a serious technical or electric problem, it could trigger a Service StabiliTrak light and also prevent your car from starting. It is important to know that this problem is not caused by the StabiliTrak system. 

Q: Is there a recall on StabiliTrak?

Due to problems related to system problems, there has not been any recall on StabiliTrak or any product using StabiliTrak. A few casualties have occurred with GMC or Chevy vehicles that could be traced to the StabiliTrak system. These casualties are not enough for a recall.  

Ifandi L.

Ifandi L.

Passionate about everything mechanical. Ifandi has been involved with motorcycles and cars since the old days - in his family's auto parts shop. Want to keep in touch? Scream "STRAIGHT PIPEEEEE" at the top of your lungs and Ifandi will show up.

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