Traction Control Light Comes on and Car Starts Jerking [Easy Fix]

The traction control light shows when one of your wheels is slipping more than the others. If the light is blinking, the problem is likely temporary. But, if it stays on, it means your traction control and ABS systems are off.

The bigger problem is when the traction control light comes on and the car starts jerking. I’ll explain what causes this and how you can fix it.

car dashboard with a traction control warning light

Bad Wheel Sensor

The wheel speed sensor tells your car’s computer how fast the wheels are spinning. It’s usually placed on parts like the steering knuckle and spindle in your suspension.

If the wheel speed sensor fails, the computer won’t be able to determine which wheel is slipping. If it can’t, it turns off the traction control system, displays the warning light, and you feel your car jerk.

You may have some dirt or brake dust accumulation on the wheel speed sensor.

Remove the wheel speed sensor and use a piece of cloth with a mix of soap and water to clean it off. Don’t use a brake cleaner or carburetor cleaner to avoid damaging the sensor.

Bad Steering Angle Sensor

The steering angle sensor tells your car about the steering wheel movement. It’s either behind the wheel or sometimes in the steering gear.

On slippery roads, the traction control uses data from this sensor to see how much you’re steering.

If the sensor doesn’t send the correct info, the traction light may turn on and make your car jerk.

If cleaning the wheel speed sensor doesn’t fix the problem, have a professional check your car.

Is It Safe to Drive Your Car While It’s Jerking?

No, it’s not safe to keep driving while the car is jerking. You may think it’s safe to limp your way to a mechanic, but that isn’t always a good idea. If your car starts jerking, you could crash into something or someone in front of you.


If the traction control light is on and the car jerks, this might be due to bad wheel speed or steering angle sensor.

Fixing the wheel speed sensor might be as easy as wiping it with a cloth to remove debris.

For steering angle sensor issues, it’s best you take your car to a professional mechanic to have a look.