What Does Service StabiliTrak Mean And What Causes it?

Have you ever noticed the Service StabiliTrak message on your car’s dashboard? There may be many who wonders what does service StabiliTrak mean. It usually indicates an error in the StabiliTrak System which is a type of traction control system that is present in all cars as a standard safety measure. The most possible causes of the Service StabiliTrak message includes an input sensor, a faulty controller or a bad connection. This article tries to provide a complete overview of the StabiliTrak System and what the message that comes in the dashboard means, so read on!

What Is StabiliTrak?

StabiliTrak is a name originally given to General Motors (GM)’s Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system which is a type of control and a standard safety feature that exists in all GM cars. Since then, it became the term used to refer to Traction Control Systems (TCS)in all vehicles including the vehicles of manufacturers like Chevrolet, Toyota, Ford, and Volkswagen.

By using sensors or a series of sensors, the TCS detects whether a car’s wheel is slipping and whether to apply the anti-lock brakes to the slipping slide. This will cause the power to divert to the non-slipping slide and the driver can continue to drive the car.

It is worth remembering that while all ESC systems are a type of traction control, not all traction control systems are Electronic Stability Control systems. Traction control systems are only limited to preventing the wheels from spinning. On the other hand, all ESC systems can play a very important role in changing the wheel’s steering.

Why Does StabiliTrak Matter?

The StabiliTrak’s role in keeping the drivers safe is very underrated. It plays a major role in keeping us and our car safe in uneven road conditions especially in the winter season. When driving your vehicle on snow-filled roads, the chance to lose traction is very high. 

Sometimes when the driver tries to move the vehicle in a particular direction, the car does not follow through. This is when the ESC systems like StabiliTrak plays a role in helping the driver. StabiliTrak with the help of sensors detects the attempt of the driver and applies the brakes to whichever wheels need it which leads to the stopping of the car slipping. 

In Chevrolet cars, StabiliTrak responds to oversteering by applying the brakes to each wheel individually, if necessary. StabiliTrak then utilizes the outer front brake to bring your car back on track. In situations where understeering occurs Stabilitrak works and engages the rear brake which makes the car point in the right direction.  

Is It True That StabiliTrak System Can Save Lives?

As StabiliTrak’s detection and response are quite faster than most drivers, the system can save lives. Even studies prove this fact. In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that they could save around 1 949 lives due to the vehicles’ ESC systems.

For this reason, the federal laws require all cars to have a Traction Control System installed in the car from 2012 as a safety feature. And it is when the StabiliTrak system goes wrong that your dashboard displays the Stabilitrak message in the dashboard. And those who are not aware of what the system will definitely be confused as to what does service StabiliTrak mean. 

What Does Service StabiliTrak Mean?

If you have wondered what does service StabiliTrak mean when such a message appears in your dashboard, it indicates an error in StabiliTrak System which is a type of traction control present in all cars as a standard safety measure. The issue in the StabiliTrak system varies from vehicle to vehicle. There can be two types of messages that can be shown in your dashboard which are. 

1. StabiliTrak Initializing Message

The StabiliTrak installation message that appears on the dashboard is quite a common occurrence. This often happens when the StabiliTrak system was unable to initialize properly. The reasons for such an issue can be anything from improper tire size to road conditions. If you get the initialization message in your dashboard, you needn’t worry about it as much. But taking a risk is also not advised so get your car checked by your mechanic to see if there is an underlying issue. 

2. Service StabiliTrak Message

Now to answer the question of what does service StabiliTrak mean, it is an indication that there is something wrong with your StabiliTrak System which is the Traction Control System in your car. A prolonged issue with the StabiliTrak system in your car can act as a safety hazard to both you and your car. As mentioned above, the cause of the issue can vary from vehicle to vehicle. 

Common Reasons Behind the Service StabiliTrak Message

The most common reasons that cause the error message of Service Stabilitrak are

1. Input Sensor

A faulty input sensor is the most common reason that causes the Service StabiliTrak message to appear on your dash. The faulty sensors could be for wheel speed, steering angle, or rotational speed. A replacement of the faulty sensors in the nearest service centre should do the trick and solve the issue. 

2. Faulty Controller

A faulty controller or a broken Power Control Module (PCM) can cause the Service StabiliTrak message to appear on your car’s dashboard. The StabiliTrak system works when every wheel’s electronic sensors communicate with the PCM regarding stability and steering performance. This is especially important in rough weather conditions. However, if the Power Control Module (PCM) gets faulty, the StabiliTrak system won’t be able to get communication with PCM. This results in the showing of the message on the dashboard. 

3. Bad Connection

Sometimes, the Service StabiliTrak connection maybe because of a broken GM-LAN communication line. GM cars are manufactured with a GM-LAN communication line. It is a plastic cover-protected bundle of wire that runs all the way towards the transmission. A heat shield is bolted to the transmission to protect the wiring and sensitive transmission components. 

However, age and prolonged exposure to heat can result in causing the plastic to brittle and break away. This will leave the GM-LAN line to be unprotected. A portion of the line gets pressed against the hot shield which makes the plastic cover over the wire.



The Service StabiliTrak message thus means that there are some malfunctioning internal parts. Sometimes you can fix the issue by pulling over and turning off your car. Then let it sit for a minimum of 20 seconds. However, if you see that the message still appears in the dashboard after switching the car on then you may have to seek the service of a mechanic to diagnose the issue and get the faulty parts replaced. 

Leave a Comment