Service Stabilitrak: Causes and Diagnosis


One of the most common issues with GM vehicles is the “Service StabiliTrak” warning. It is one of the most innovative and important safety features on modern General Motors vehicles.  That’s why we recommend to have your Stabilitrak system serviced and not ignore the service stabilitrak warning if it does come on.

StabiliTrak is designed to help prevent accidents by giving you better control of your vehicle.  If you have the service StabiliTrak warning, your car or truck will no longer be assisted when a loss in lateral traction is detected.

StabiliTrak is a GM specific vehicle stability system.  It works by using a complex system of sensors to detect whether or not the vehicle is properly responding to your input in emergency situations.  It uses this data to apply a specific brake or reduce the engine power to correct the slide and get your vehicle pointed back in the right direction.

For example:  On an icy road, if your vehicle wasn’t steering where you needed it, StabiliTrak could apply one of the rear brakes to help get you pointed in the right direction.

Service Stabilitrak Diagnosis

Typical Service StabiliTrak Symptoms

Loss of StabiliTrak is not really going to be noticed during normal driving.  It is really only gets used in emergency situations.  

  • Service StabiliTrak Warning–  The number one indication that something is wrong is your vehicle’s “Service StabiliTrak” warning light itself.
  • Cruise Control–  Without the StabiliTrak system functioning properly, your vehicle’s cruise control may not work.
  • Traction Control Not Working–  Your vehicle’s traction control system mostly uses the same sensors to determine if a wheel has broken traction.  Unlike StabiliTrak, which controls lateral issues (sliding), traction control keeps the wheels from unnecessary spinning.  This helps avoid lateral acceleration altogether.

Although it may be tempting to ignore the service StabiliTrak warning, it can really be dangerous not having it when you need it.  


Service StabiliTrak Causes

There are many things that can cause the StabiliTrak system to lose its ability to function.  It is a complex system.

  • Wheel Speed Sensor–  If one of the wheel speed sensors is out, StabiliTrak will no longer be able to tell if all of the wheels are turning at the same speed.  Without this data it’ll turn on the “Service StabiliTrak” warning.
  • Brake Pedal Switch–  Your brake pedal switch does more than just control whether or not your brake lights are turned on or not.  The ECU uses this switch to run systems like StabiliTrak and cruise control.  If the switch isn’t functioning properly, these systems may be disabled.
  • Wrong Tire Size–  StabiliTrak may not work properly if the tire size is not what GM calls for.

There are many other issues that can cause the StabiliTrak system to stop working, these were the most common.  It’s a good idea to test and see if you have any trouble codes.  They may provide you clues that’ll help you fix the system.


Resetting StabiliTrak

Gm recommends that you power down the vehicle for 15 seconds to give the StabiliTrak time to reboot.  If it works after firing back up, great!  If not, it may be time to have it serviced.



While it won’t hurt to drive without traction control or StabiliTrak, you are operating your vehicle without an important safety feature.  If there’s anything you’d like to add, please leave a comment below.  Thank you.