Service Stabilitrak: Explaining Everything You Need To Know

The question “What does service Stabilitrak mean?” is asked by many people who use vehicles produced by General Motors and have seen the Stabilitrak warning light.

Service Stabilitrak

This is exacerbated by the fact that the Stabilitrak is not as popular as the Electronic Stability Control. Fortunately, we have gathered all the information there is to know about this system and how to solve the problem if its light illuminates.

Also, this article will answer popular questions about GM’s Stabilitrak and provide other useful information.

What Does Service Stabilitrak in Your Car Mean?

The service Stabilitrak light in your car means that there may be a problem with the car’s Stabilitrak system. If it is not fixed, the car could spin out of control and get into an accident on a slippery road. Also, it could cause damage to other car components.

Also, the service Stabilitrak warning light could mean that the system has been turned off, maybe inadvertently, and should be turned back on. It could also indicate that the system is receiving bad or inaccurate signals from its sensors, thus it is unable to interpret the signs correctly.

In such situations, the best is to drive to a mechanic to help with a proper diagnosis. You may need to replace the sensors or fix specific problems with the traction control system.

– Signs that the Stabilitrak Needs Servicing

One of the symptoms of Stabilitrak problems is when your car is experiencing rough shifting. Rough shifting is when the car struggles to change gears, loses power, or jerking transitions. Rough shifting can be especially detrimental to the car’s transmission due to massive wear and tear. If it is not checked early, you’ll have to replace the whole transmission system, which could cause thousands of dollars.

Signs that the Stabilitrak Needs Servicing

Another sign that the system is faulty is when the vehicle struggles to accelerate regardless of how far the accelerator pedal is pressed down. This could be caused by faulty wheel sensors which may be sending wrong signals to the electronic control unit. The ECU could misinterpret the sign and withdraw power from the wheels, causing them to slow down. This problem can be fixed if the defective sensors are replaced.

The third sign that Stabilitrak needs fixing is when other warning lights like the ABS come on. The anti-lock braking system works in tandem with the Stabilitrak to keep the vehicle from skidding on a slippery road. While the Stabilitrak monitors the wheels and transfers power from the wheel with less traction to the wheels with more traction, the ABS keeps the wheels from locking up. Thus, if the ABS light comes on or the traction control light illuminates, then it could mean that the traction control system has developed a fault as well.

What Will Happen If the Stabilitrak Is Off?

If the Stabilitrak is off, you risk getting involved in an accident when one of the tires loses traction and over-spins. However, having the Stabilitrak off can be helpful in some situations like getting stuck in the mud, snow or other sticky debris.

What Will Happen If the Stabilitrak Is Off

As we already know, the Stabilitrak kicks into action when one or two wheels lose traction and begin to spin wildly. The Stabilitrak takes power from the wildly spinning wheels and transfers it to the ones with better traction so that you can maintain control of the vehicle.

However, switching the Stabilitrak off when you’re stuck prevents the system from taking power from any of the wheels. Thus, the wheel that is slipping still maintains all the power it needs to get out of the sticky situation.

Take note that this is only applicable when you’re completely stuck and your wheels need all the power they can get to drive out of the mud. You can switch it off when you’re stuck but aside from that, always keep it on especially when the weather is bad. This can save you lots of money, and even your life. 

How Do You Reset the Stabilitrak Service Light?

To reset the service Stabilitrak service light, turn on the car without switching on the engine. Then press the accelerator or gas pedal between three and five times in five seconds. This should reset the vehicle’s diagnostic computer and reset the Stabilitrak light too.

Another way to reset the light is to first turn on the car and then turn the steering clockwise until the light switches off. If the light goes off, then your system is in prime condition and won’t need servicing.

However, if the light stays on after you’ve turned the wheel to the right, then turn off the car and wait for about 20 seconds. Turn the car on again and if the light doesn’t go off, then it means the Stabilitrak system needs servicing.

What Does Vehicle Stabilitrak Mean?

Vehicle Stabilitrak is considered an electronic stability control system that is designed to keep vehicles from losing traction and swiveling out of control. The system monitors the inputs of the drivers and the road conditions to determine how to control the car best under any given circumstance.

What Does Vehicle Stabilitrak Mean

The Stabilitrak is made up of speed sensors, an electronic control unit and an automatic traction control (ATC) valve. The wheel speed sensors are installed on all wheels and they monitor the wheel speed.

When a wheel loses traction, the speed sensor sends the message to the electronic control unit (ECU), which interprets it and reduces the speed of the spinning wheel. This prevents the car from wheeling out of control and allows the driver to maintain control of the vehicle.

This system kicks into action as soon as a wheel or two wheels begin to spin out of control and works to avoid an accident. Therefore, if its warning light illuminates, then it is an indication that something is wrong with one or more components of the system that requires immediate attention. Stabilitrak keeps the car steady on a windy or slippery road and gives the driver total control of the vehicle. 

How the Stabilitrak Works In a Real Situation

When a driver hits a slippery road and the vehicle begins to spin out of control, the Stabilitrak recognizes that the movement of the steering wheel doesn’t conform to the direction of the tires. Thus, it activates the anti-lock braking system (ABS), which applies brakes to the slipping wheel.

This reduces the speed of that wheel and matches it with that of the wheels with better traction. When StabiliTrak realizes that normalcy has returned and the wheels match the movement of the driving wheel, it deactivates.

– Stabilitrak vs Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Technically, they are the same as Stabilitrak is a type of ESC system that prevents the wheels from spinning out of control. However, the Stabilitrak is superior to the ESCl system because it is tailored to provide maximum stability for cars produced by GM.

Stabilitrak vs Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Electronic stability control is the general name for systems that keep cars stable on windy or slippery roads. However, some companies have tailored the system to suit their vehicles for maximum stability.

Therefore, the Stabilitrak from GM is tailored made to suit the systems of all cars produced by the company. This is what makes Stabilitrak better as it is the perfect system for all vehicles produced by the same company.

However, the Stabilitrak is different from the traction control system though both perform similar functions. The traction control system kicks into gear when the vehicle is stationary, probably stuck in mud or snow. It cuts power from the wheel with less traction and sends more power to the wheels with more traction to get you out. However, Stabilitrak works when the vehicle is in motion and the car moves in a different direction than the direction of the driving wheel.

In this case, the Stabilitrak adjusts the brakes, steering wheel and engine to give more control to the driver. However, the service traction warning light and the service Stabilitrak light illuminate together. Thus, you’ll need to work on both systems to prioritize your safety and that of the vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can You Drive Your Car With a Service Stabilitrak Message?

Yes, you can drive your car with a service Stabilitrak initializing message, but only if the vehicle isn’t exhibiting any of the signs of a faulty Stabilitrak. However, be sure to fix it as soon as possible to avoid further hurting other car components.

2. What Does Service Stabilitrak Mean and Check Engine Light Indicate?

Service Stabilitrak message means the Stabilitrak has developed a fault and needs to be repaired while the check engine light indicates that the electronic control module has detected a malfunction. If both lights illuminate simultaneously, then the problem could be serious. Thus, have a mechanic look at your vehicle.

What is the Difference Between Pending Codes and Trouble Codes in Stabilitrak Systems?

When it comes to Stabilitrak systems, understanding the comparison of pending code vs trouble code becomes crucial. While trouble codes are active and indicate ongoing issues, pending codes are temporary and require further monitoring. Differentiating between these two codes helps diagnose and address potential problems in the vehicle’s stability control system.


We’ve discovered what the service Stabilirak light means and how to fix service Stabilitrak message.

Here are a few points to note:

  • When you see a service Stabilitrak light on, it means that the system has developed a fault and requires immediate attention.
  • The Stabilitrak is a system implored in all cars produced by GM to give drivers total control when their vehicles begin moving in an opposite direction to the steering wheel.
  • The system consists of several sensors placed on all the wheels which monitor the wheel speed and direction of each wheel and communicate it to the Electronic Control Module.
  • Based on the signals from the sensors and the ECU, the Stabilitrak adjusts the steering wheel, engine and brakes to give the driver maximum control.
  • Some symptoms of a faulty Stabilitrak system include hard shifting and loss of acceleration and engine power.

Though the Stabilitrak and traction control systems perform similar functions, they are not the same. The traction control system works when the vehicle is stuck (stationary) while the Stabilitrak works when the vehicle is in motion and slipping.

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