TRAC off, or traction systems offline, is a new feature that has been added to the latest vehicle models. This feature was first introduced among Toyota vehicles, and the other brands followed afterward.
As you can guess, when the TRAC off light starts to blink or stay active, it means the traction system of your vehicle is currently offline, and you won’t get any support from your vehicle’s automatic interface regarding tire traction.
TRAC off oncar usually happens due to two reasons:
- Manual deactivation
- System malfunction
In this guide, we will go over the details and fixes for both of these causes, along with the importance & requirement of the TRAC system. So, make sure not to skip any portions!
Understanding the TRAC System
Just as the name suggests, the Traction Control system or TRAC system, in short, is a safety feature that focuses on improving the overall traction & stability of the vehicle. This allows the drivers to have better maintenance & control over their cars, especially during acceleration or going through slippery roads.
How TRAC Works?
The TRAC system functions primarily by minimizing tire slippage if the driver forces excessive throttle. The system monitors the wheel through sensors along with calculating the rotational speed and determines potential slippage before activating its protection.
Three primary functions make up the base of the TRAC system, and they are:
- Wheel/Tire Speed Sensors
- Brake & Engine Power Control
- Electronic Control Unit (ECU)
1. Wheel Speed Sensors:
TRAC system’s first and arguably most important component is the wheel speed sensors. As their name indicates, these sensors alert the system of the speed generated on each wheel.
They provide detailed real-time data to the system so that it can determine whether or not there is any tire slip occurring or not.
These sensors also detect any damage the wheels have taken during your ride. If the damage is severe, they will trigger the TRAC off light on your dashboard.
2. Brake & Engine Power Control:
Once the sensors notice an anomaly, they will send a signal to the ECU. The ECU will then take two major steps.
First, it will hit the brakes on wheels that are rotating faster than the others. So, in short, it will apply the brakes on the wheels that are slipping gradually.
This will significantly reduce the effect of slipping and will give the driver control over the vehicle easily.
The second thing that the TRAC will do is to lower the engine power. What this will do is that the torque will be reduced due to the lack of power, which will slow down the wheels and stop the sleeping.
These two factors will work simultaneously, and only their synchronization ensures that your car remains balanced throughout your drive in a slippery situation.
3. Electronic Control Unit (ECU):
The brain of the TRAC system is the ECU. This electric control unit is responsible for the calculation of the speeds and determination of whether a wheel is slipping or not. It also commands the engine power & break reduction.
TRAC off On Car – What TRAC off-light means for your car?
Now that you understand how the TRAC system works let’s understand what TRAC off-light means for your car.
When TRAC is off, it means your vehicle won’t get any sort of traction support, and you are completely on your own to maintain the balance of your car. Ideally, you shouldn’t turn off TRAC.
But there are certain situations where you are recommended to turn off the TRAC system for a better driving system, but you should always turn the system back on once you are clear of that certain situation.
As mentioned earlier, if you are seeing the TRAC off light lit or blinking on your dashboard, then it is possible that your TRAC system is offline or it is facing some sort of system malfunction. There can be a lot of system malfunction scenarios, so you will have to look into each part specifically.
Different Causes & Fixes for TRAC Off on A Car
Here are some of the most common causes & fixes for TRAC Off light lightning up on in a car:
- TRAC System Was Manually Offline
This is arguably the most common reason why your TRAC light-off sign is on. On snow-covered roads, you are recommended to turn off TRAC; maybe you’d just turned it off and forgot to turn it on.
Sometimes, we can accidentally turn the TRAC off as the turn-off button is often placed close to the buttons for A/C and windows. Also, if you don’t seem to find your TARC button, then look for an icon of a car just slipping on the road.
- TRAC Switch Function Issue
As the TRAC switch/button isn’t often used, it can gather dust & dirt and may get stuck sometimes. If, by accident, it gets stuck and turns off the TRAC system, then you will also encounter the TRAC Off light.
In this case, you can clean the switch and see if it works or just get a replacement, and the issue should be resolved easily.
- Slippery Road Traction
Yes, in some rare cases, if the road is too slippery and the vehicle is skidding, then the TRAC light might turn on. Mostly you will face this situation during snow, but sometimes moderate to heavy rain can also become the reason for this.
Getting off the slippery road and driving on a normal surface should get rid of the TRAC off-light instantly.
- Improper Brake Replacement
If you have recently changed the brakes of your vehicle and seen the TRAC off light come on afterward, then it is most probably due to the new brakes.
Some car companies only allow specific brakes for their models, like Toyota, whose ABS (Antilock Braking System) will only work if the brakes are from Toyota.
On unverified brakes, the TRAC system’s sensors may not be compatible, and if that is the case, then you can be assured of the fact that you will see the TRAC Off light as soon as you install those breaks and turn on your car.
Therefore, make sure to get brakes that also support your TRAC system. You should consult your vehicle manufacturer about this matter.
- Problematic Wheel Sensor
A troublesome wheel sensor is another common reason for TRAC off-light issues. Wheel sensors are responsible for the entire TRAC system, so if one of them has malfunctioned, then the ECU can’t make proper decisions and will notify the driver by lighting up the TRAC off the light.
There can be a lot of reasons behind wheel sensor failures, maybe they got damaged during the ride, or some sort of dirt got stuck, and the sensors just can’t read anymore.
Whatever the case, the best solution would be to get new sensors, but you should first try to check if there are any simple solutions for this case.
- ECU Failure
The ECU manages the entire process of the TRAC system. So, if for some reason it malfunctions, then it may be the reason why you are seeing TRAC off light on your car.
If there is an ECU failure, then the only solution is to get a replacement. Do keep in mind that normally, ECUs don’t malfunction that easily. So, we recommend that you check other parts of your car as well by a professional.
- Brake Light Switch Malfunction
In newer models of vehicles, when you hit the brakes, the brake light switch turns on to let you know that you are hitting the brakes. If that switch malfunctions, then sometimes it may trigger the TRAC off light as well.
Just correcting the brake light switch should take care of this problem instantly.
- Computer Failure
Lastly, modern vehicles are filled with different types of computers and programs that are there to help your driving experience be much more delightful. That being said, a complete computer system failure can often lead to the TRAC Off light being triggered.
In this case, you will first have to identify which software or program is responsible for the malfunction and then treat the problem accordingly. Our recommendation, in this case, is to take your car to a professional mechanic and let him do the job.
Otherwise, you might end up with a much worse result than your current situation.
Can You Drive Your Car Without TRAC System?
Yes, you certainly can. While it is not recommended, you can drive without turning on the TRAC. But then you won’t be able to get the protection that TRAC offers.
You will miss out on the improved traction, which will help you to roam through slippery surfaces easily. Due to the better traction, you will also enjoy better stability and not to mention safety that comes with this as well.
That being said, it is completely fine if you don’t want to use these benefits. If you are confident with your skill, then there is nothing to worry about. TRAC is simply just an extra safety feature.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
1. Should my Trac be on or off?
Normally, the TRAC system should be on, but if you find your car stuck in snow or deep mud, you’ll need to turn it off. Otherwise, it will reduce the power that gets transferred to the wheels, making it difficult to get the car out.
2. Is traction control light an MOT failure?
Yes, TRAC light on will lead to an MOT failure.
3. Does traction control affect the engine?
When traction control is off, there’s a chance the car might lose control on slippery surfaces, which will affect the engine performance.
At first glance, the TRAC Off on car can frighten you, but it is not a major issue. Usually, there are simple reasons for this issue, and as you have seen in this guide, the fixes are also quite easy.
So, if you ever encounter the TRAC off light, then just follow the instructions provided here, and you will be able to turn off the notification light in no time. Best of luck!