Every modern vehicle comes with a hi-tech system that monitors the drivetrain – the wheels and the brakes particularly. This system uses a wide range of sensors to monitor how your car drives, and then activates when necessary. For Chevy and GM vehicles, it is the StabiliTrak system that does this function.
The Service StabiliTrak message simply indicates that your vehicle’s StabiliTrak System is experiencing some problems, and as such, your attention is needed. It could be a faulty sensor that prompted the message; however, other things could trigger the message notification.
In this article, we’d discuss – in detail – the meaning of the StabiliTrak System, what it comprises, and why you got the Service StabiliTrak message showing on your car dashboard!
What is the StabiliTrak System?
The StabiliTrak System is to Chevy vehicles what the Traction Control System (TCS) is to other cars from other automakers.
It monitors how the car drives and controls a wide range of components. So to say, the StabiliTrak System is the GM’s proprietary Electronic Stability Control System.
The main function of this system is to ensure that your car doesn’t lose traction, especially when driving on wet roads. Basically, the StabiliTrak system has a module that monitors the vehicle wheel speed using some sensors installed around the wheels.
This system automatically enables when it detects that your wheels are losing traction or sliding on a snowy track; it either activates the power steering or engages automatic braking to keep your vehicle’s wheels straight.
StabiliTrak is an important system overall, and if it goes bad, you’d get a service notification on your car’s dashboard.
Components That Make Up The StabiliTrak System in GM and Chevy Cars
- The car’s steering wheel
- Braking system
- Traction system
- Vehicle speed sensors
Actually, the StabiliTrak system can be turned off in some vehicles that come with it -but this is not advisable. For vehicles that have it activated, the StabiliTrak system automatically runs a self-diagnostic test whenever you turn on the ignition.
If the diagnostic test detects that a component connected to the StabiliTrak system is faulty, it’d throw a “Service StabiliTrak” message, but if all the components are functioning well, it shows a “Service OK” message.
Service StabiliTrak Message: What Does This Mean?
In the simplest explanation, the Service StabiliTrak message on your car’s dashboard indicates that the StabiliTrak system couldn’t initialize successfully; the initialization process was interrupted, probably due to an unresponsive component or sensor.
In most cases, there’s no cause for alarm when you see this message on your car dashboard. However, if the warning message is accompanied by other warning signs such as the ABS and/or TCS lights coming on at the same time, then you really should act fast.
Notwithstanding, whether the “Service StabiliTrak” message is accompanied by other warning messages/lights or not, it’s an eyesore and you’d want to clear it off, how would you do that?
Before discussing how you can fix or clear off the Service StabiliTrak message from your car’s dashboard, let’s look through the causes.
Why Did The “Service StabiliTrak” Message Appear?
While there are many reasons why the “Service StabiliTrak” message would show up, explained below are the most common reasons.
1. Broken GM-LAN Line
The GM-LAN communication line is a protected wire line that runs to the transmission system. At the transmission end, a heat shield is used to protect the line.
However, this line can get faulty when the plastic protective cover overheats and breaks apart. A broken GM-LAN communication line can throw up the service StabiliTrak message because it’d prevent the initialization process from running successfully.
2. Faulty Sensor
When either of these sensors is faulty or completely bad, it sends wrong signals to the StabiliTrak system, which could trigger the service message to appear.
3. Issues With The Vehicle’s Powertrain/Drivetrain
A fault in your vehicle’s powertrain can affect how the wheels rotate, and once the wheels are not rotating as supposed, the issue is relayed to the StabiliTrak system, which throws the service message to your dashboard.
4. Faulty Stability Control Module
The Stability Control Module helps to keep your car wheels straights when driving in any condition. When this module is malfunctioning, the wheels can lose traction easily, and that can cause the Service StabiliTrak message to appear.
5. Bad ABS Module/Sensors
Virtually all modern cars are built with an intelligent ABS module that monitors the wheels to know when your car is skidding or sliding on wet/snowy roads.
If the ABS module is fully functional, it activates the brakes systematically to prevent skidding and sliding; on the other hand, when the module is faulty, your car wheels are liable to drive out of place and this can cause the Service StabiliTrak message to appear.
6. Running E85 Fuel on a Gasoline Engine
Some people allege that the Service StabiliTrak message appears when they try to run E85 fuel on their vehicles that are meant to drive with gasoline.
So, if you just bought E85 for your Chevy or GM car meant to run gasoline, then that could be the cause of the warning message on your car’s dashboard.
How To Fix/Clear Off The Service StabiliTrak Message
It is important to note that the Service StabiliTrak message can appear at any time, even when you’re still driving. Also, this warning message can cause your Chevy or GM car to enter into “Limp Mode.”
But not to worry, you can fix this without calling on a mechanic.; simply follow the procedure below:
- If you’re driving when the message appeared, pull over at a safe corner and turn off the car completely If you just turned on the car and the message appeared, turn it back off
- Wait for a few minutes – 10 to 20 minutes – and turn the car back on
- In most cases, this simple power cycle can clear the Service StabiliTrak message; however, if the message doesn’t go off after this practice, you’d need to run a diagnostic test on the car, using a car diagnostic tool (ex. OBII scanner)
If the message doesn’t clear off after trying the “power cycle” trick, then you have to rely on the information provided on your diagnostic tool to decide the next step to take.
In most cases, this is where the services of a professional auto technician/mechanic are required as the problem could be a damaged component or malfunctioning sensor that needs to be replaced.
Cost of Fixing The Service StabiliTrak Message
When the warning message refuses to go away, most definitely, the cause of the error is a faulty or broken component; if this is the problem, then it’d cost you some money. The possible cost of fixing the Service StabiliTrak message is $80 – $200, or even more, depending on what went wrong.
Can You Drive With Service StabiliTrak Message On?
Yes. You can continue to drive even after the Service StabiliTrak message shows up on the dashboard. But, it is advisable to stop and check out what made the message appear; and then continue driving after the message is cleared off.
How Do i Fix Service Stabilitrak Warning?
Stop the vehicle if you’re driving; turn off the engine completely and wait for it to cool down a little. After about 15 minutes, start the car and check if the message is still showing; in most cases, the message would have cleared off during the power cycle.
Does Stabilitrak Affect Transmission?
If the StabiliTrak system throws the “Service Stabilitrak” notification, the subsequent action that follows suit is the turning off of the traction control module. Once traction control is off, the transmission of your Chevy or GM vehicle would start to shift roughly and this may cause other warning lights to come on.
Is It Expensive to fix StabiliTrak?
No. Sometimes, there’s nothing to fix when the Service StabiliTrak message comes, you just need to restart the car and everything gets back to normal. However, there are cases where something needs to be replaced; the average cost of fixing components that could cause the Service StabiliTrak message is between $80 – $200 or more.
The Service StabiliTrak message means that the StabiliTrak system in your Chevy or GM automobile detected some problems during its self-diagnostics tests; the detected problem could be minor or major.
For the minor problems, a simple power cycle can fix things back up, while for major problems you’d need a mechanic or professional auto technician.
The Service StabiliTrak message typically appears on GM and Chevy vehicles; notwithstanding, the warning message can appear on other non-Chevy/GM vehicles with the StabiliTrak system enabled.
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