Traction Control Light Is on & Car Won’t Accelerate (Causes & Fixes)

Car issues arise at any time. Sometimes, they show predicting signs, and you can solve them early. But other times, they happen suddenly. The worst is when you encounter unforeseen issues while driving. Each car has its strength and weakness, so the problems you face will differ.

A problem many car owners complain about is having the traction control light on, and car won’t accelerate. This can happen if your traction control system has programming issues or the traction control module is faulty. It can also occur if your wheel speed sensors, steering jack, or steering angle sensor are bad. 

The good news is that these issues are solvable. However, you may have to spend a few hundred dollars to solve them. You’ll find all about fixing the problem of the traction control light on and your car won’t accelerate in this post. But before then, let’s find out what the traction control light does.

The purpose of the traction control light

In simple terms, the traction control light indicates that your car is working correctly. As a result, it’s ironic that your traction light will be on, yet the car won’t accelerate.

The traction control light detects when your car tires are riding on slippery surfaces. This is typical when riding in the rain or snow. When the light comes on, the traction control system moves power to the tires with sufficient friction with the road.

And this allows you to ride safely still. Otherwise, the slipping tires will take you off the road. Your traction light can also turn on in perfect weather conditions.

Such situations could mean the traction control system is faulty or deactivated.

That’s it for the function of the traction control light. Let’s now move to why your traction control light is on, your car won’t accelerate, and how to fix them.

6 reasons your traction control light is on, and you can’t accelerate

You may have experienced the traction control light coming on while driving. This can be frustrating and even dangerous, as it can prevent you from accelerating. There are a few reasons why this may happen, and we’ve outlined six of them below.

So, here are the six most likely reasons for the traction control light to turn on and your car won’t accelerate.

Bad wheel speed sensors

Your vehicle’s wheel speed sensors monitor the traction control system, among others. So when it’s bad, it affects these systems as well.

Hence, your traction control light will constantly come on if your wheel speed sensors are faulty. But it doesn’t always mean the sensors are bad, as sometimes, it could be due to faulty connections.

Therefore, the first step to solving this is a brake inspection. Next, you should check the wheel speed sensor connections to confirm everything is in order. Again, a professional mechanic is in the best position to handle this.

Suppose the connection is okay. In that case, you have to replace the sensors. You’ll spend between $200 to $400 on each sensor. Most cars have four-wheel speed sensors, so you’ll pay $800 to $1,600.

Faulty steering angle sensor

The steering angle sensor communicates with your car’s control system, delivering the steering wheel angle, wheel turn rate, and other critical details. If it goes bad, controlling your vehicle becomes a challenge.

Since you can’t control your car optimally, your traction light is expected to come on. Also, your vehicle may refuse to accelerate.

Like the wheel speed sensors, this issue can also be due to a poor connection. You should only consider replacing the steering angle sensor if you confirm that the connection to the car system is in order.

Replacing your car’s steering angle sensor won’t be overly expensive. You can get it done for $150 to $500, including the labor cost.

The faulty traction control module

A faulty traction control module means the traction control light and other system parts will malfunction. In fact, the traction control light staying on all the time is the most common cause of a failing traction control module. 

Another symptom you should watch out for is the traction control system refusing to turn off. Conversely, if the system is off, it may refuse to turn on. Related safety systems, like the anti-lock brake system, can also malfunction.

It’s possible to fix the traction control module. Doing so will cost you around $100 to $200, depending on what is wrong. However, if you have to replace the entire module, you may spend up to $1,000. For high-end cars, you could spend up to $1,500.

Programming issues with the traction control system

Wrong programming will cause your traction control system to malfunction. If this is why your traffic control light is on and your car won’t accelerate, you should know it’s relatively easy to fix.

You can fix the programming issue yourself by resetting the module. How you do this will differ depending on your car, and it’s recommended that you follow your manufacturer’s instructions.

If resetting the module doesn’t fix it, it may need reprogramming. But, first, you’ll have to take your car to a professional shop. The shop will first diagnose the exact issue and address it.

Bad Steering Rack

The steering rack allows your car to change. As a result, you will lose control of your vehicle if the steering rack is bad. In particular, you can’t make right or left turns, and your car will only move in a straight direction. 

Since this is dangerous, your car’s safety systems may prevent it from accelerating while the traction control light comes on. The steering rack isn’t a car part to damage easily. In fact, it doesn’t have a definitive lifespan and can last for as long as the car does. 

But when you overuse your car, the steering rack can fail. Your only option here is to replace the steering rack. It’ll cost you anywhere between $700 to $1,500.

The vehicle is in limp mode.

Also known as Fail Code conditions, limp mode refers to a security feature that activates when your engine is faulty. It also happens if your transmission control system goes bad. It switches off some parts of the car and decreases the speed. With this, you can understand why your vehicle may fail to accelerate in limp mode. 

If your traffic control light is on and the car won’t accelerate because of limp mode, you should take the vehicle to a mechanic. But, unfortunately, it’s not something you can fix yourself.

Now you know what could make your car not accelerate although the traction light is on. And you also know how to solve them. So, the next question is, should you drive when the traction control light is on? Let’s find out.

Is it bad to drive with the traction control light on?

Driving your car with the traction control light on isn’t particularly dangerous or safe. It depends on the situation.

When you’re losing traction — while driving on a slippery road, for example — your traction control light will come on. The light indicates that the traction control module is working, and you can still drive your car. However, you should expect the light to go off when you reach normal terrain.

But if the traction control light isn’t the only light on, you should stop the car. This is because, in addition to the traction control light, the stability control and antilock brake systems are usually part of the same system.

If all lights are on, the terrain may be too slippery to ride on, which is dangerous. But, of course, some people still ride under such circumstances, especially expert drivers. But it’s safer to park the car until the road is clear again.


The traction control system is an important safety part of your vehicle. If your traction control light is on, but your car won’t accelerate, it could mean different things.

However, the most likely reason is that your wheel speed sensors, steering rack, steering angle sensors, or traction control module is faulty. The cause of the problem will determine how much you spend to fix it and how easy. If you are interested in other reasons why your traction control light wont turn off then check out our other post on the issue.

If your tires can still maintain traction, you can drive when your traction control light is on. However, you should also stop the vehicle if other safety systems are activated.