Car Repair and Maintenance

ESP Light – Meaning, Function & Causes (& How To Fix It)

ESP Light

Modern cars are generally equipped with some form of electronic stability control. The ESP light has helped in many cases to reduce the number of traffic accidents on the highways.

So, what should you do if the ESP light on your car illuminates? Well, continue reading to know what ESP light means, how it functions, its causes, and how to fix the issue.

ESP Light

ESP light: What it means

Some cars have a warning light called the ESP (Electronic Stability Program) that flashes when a system fails. If the car starts to skid, the ESP system applies the brakes to assist the driver to retain control. There is a problem with the system if the ESP light is on. An ESP issue might have several reasons, each with a remedy.

How does the ESP work in a car?

A tool that assists in lowering a person’s radiation exposure is the Electro Magnetic Frequency (EMF) shield. The EMF levels are monitored by the ESP system, which subsequently modifies the device’s settings in response to any changes. Shields come in three varieties: personal, workplace, and residential.

  • Personal shields. People put them on to help lower their exposure to EMFs. They function by emitting a signal that prevents some EMFs from reaching the user’s body.
  • Office shields. These are used in offices to lessen the exposure of workers to EMFs. They function by absorbing certain EMFs and then retransmitting them.
  • Home shields. These are used in houses to lessen the exposure to EMFs for occupants.

Causes of an ESP light turning on

The EMF levels are monitored by the ESP system, which subsequently modifies the device’s settings in response to any changes. Shields come in three varieties: personal, workplace, and residential.

1. Faulty ABS speed sensor

The ABS control unit receives data regarding each wheel’s speed from the wheel sensors. When one or more wheels begin to slide, the ABS control unit monitors this data and makes the required adjustments.

If one ABS sensor malfunctions, it means that one wheel is slipping while it really isn’t, which will turn on the light.

2. Defective Throttle body

The “ESP” light on your dashboard could indicate a problem with your car’s throttle body. This vital part, which controls the vehicle’s engine speed, may develop a fault and turn on the ESP light. Here are some details regarding this problem and solutions.

What does the throttle body mean? A vital part of your car’s engine that controls engine speed is the throttle body. You could notice that your dashboard’s “ESP” light turns on if it starts to malfunction.

What signs might point to a malfunctioning throttle body? Your car can have many issues, such as misfiring, trouble accelerating, and poor fuel efficiency if your throttle body is broken. You could even sometimes see the “ESP” light flashing on and off.

3. Faulty steering angle sensor

The ESP (Electronic Stability Program) light often serves as a warning system and illuminates when the steering is not turned in the proper direction. Depending on whether the driver has to make a more pronounced steering correction to change the direction of travel, the light may remain on or flash. One of the most frequent reasons for ESP lights is malfunctioning steering angle sensors.

There is a strong probability that your sensor is malfunctioning if your ESP light continues to turn on even after you have adjusted your steering. You may take your sensor to a mechanic and have them test it to see if it’s damaged. If your sensor is replaced but the problem persists, there is likely a problem with the cabling or connection connecting your sensor to the computer.

4. Defective ABS rings

Some Toyota vehicles feature an “ESP” (electronic stability program) warning light that flashes when the anti-lock brakes are malfunctioning. The ABS (anti-lock braking system) light might indicate that one or more of the car’s ABS rings are malfunctioning, which could affect how well the brakes operate.

5. Faulty brake pedal switch

A warning indicator called the ESP (electronic stability program) light alerts the driver when the car’s computer system notices a problem with the brakes. When the ESP light comes on, one or more of the vehicle’s braking systems are malfunctioning. One of the most frequent reasons why ESP lights come on is faulty brake pedal switches.

The computer system of the car receives a signal when you depress the brake pedal, stopping the car. When you press down on the brake pedal, no signal will be delivered to the vehicle’s computer system, and the ESP light will turn on if there is a problem with one of these switches. Brake pedal switches come in two primary varieties: manual and automated.

6. ABS wiring problems

Additionally, wires are running from the ABS control unit to each wheel’s sensor. Due to the suspension, these wires move a lot, and as your car ages, this can frequently make the wiring worse.

Measuring the ABS sensors from the connection socket at the control unit is the simplest way to confirm this.

What to do if the ESP light comes on?

There are a few things you can do if the electronic stability control (ESP) light on your car comes on. Depending on the root of the problem, a fuse may need to be removed or reset, the battery may need to be discharged or cleaned, or the ESP may need to be programmed. Here’s what to do if your ESP light illuminates and what each possible issue could indicate:

  • It is essential to replace the brake pads or discs if the ESP light illuminates as a result of excessive wheel spinning during braking.
  • If a replacement is not an option and you are certain that the car is not wearing out excessively in other places, you may be able to resolve the problem by resetting the ESP. Stop your car and unplug both battery wires before turning them off. While you use your scanner to do a system scan, leave them disconnected for at least three minutes.


What will happen if you drive with ESP off?

The only difference if you drive without ESP is that it won’t be turned on. If your car’s ESP system is turned off, the tires may spin freely on slick terrain. If you’re not accustomed to this, it may be challenging to drive your car and may even cause an accident. It’s crucial to maintain ESP activated when driving since it may aid in accident prevention.

Is it safe to drive with the ESP light on?

Driving with the ESP light on is generally not safe if you are not used to doing so. The ESP system must function properly since it is intended to keep your wheels from losing grip in slick conditions. The ESP system will be deactivated if the light is on, which indicates that there is an issue with the system.

How can I turn my ESP warning light back on?

You need an OBD2 scanner to turn off an ESP warning light. However, just erasing the fault code memory is probably not going to provide a long-lasting solution. You must resolve the issue that initially caused the ESP warning light to appear to turn it off.

Is traction control the same as ESP?

The traction control system and the ESP system are far apart and not the same. While the ESP system is intended to stop your wheels from spinning on slick terrain, the traction control system is intended to avoid slipping and skidding while turning.


The ESP light shows that there is a serious issue with your car’s electronic stability program (ESP) and it has to be fixed. If you are driving on a slick surface, it can also flash. The traction control, ABS, and engine control systems all work in tandem with the ESP system.

Whenever you are able to see the ESP light on your car’s dashboard, you should immediately proceed to check out the error codes from the traction control, engine control, and ABS. You will require a reliable OBD2 scanner that is compatible with your car for this.

It’s crucial to get your car inspected as soon as possible by a qualified technician if you notice this light coming on and believe that you lack the necessary skills to diagnose the problem. The issue might be something trivial, like a dirty sensor, but it could also be a sign of something more severe.


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Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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