ESP warning light on car's dashboard

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What the Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) warning light means for your vehicle

December 12, 2023

ESP stands for Electronic Stability Programme and is one of the most important safety features of a vehicle.

In this blog, we will explore what ESP is, what can cause it to malfunction, and what steps you should take when your ESP warning light turns on.

What is ESP?

The Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) in a car is a safety feature that improves a vehicles stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction. When the ESP detects loss of steering control, it automatically applies the brakes to help stabilise the vehicle.

Braking is automatically applied to wheels depending on the hazard – for example braking is applied to the outer front wheel to counter oversteer, and to the inner wheel to counter understeer.

The ESP system is made up of various components, including wheel speed sensors, a hydraulic control unit, a steering angle sensor and an ESP warning light on your car’s dashboard. The ESP warning light is your car’s way of telling you something is wrong with the stability system.

What can cause the ESP to malfunction?

An ESP malfunction can be attributed to several causes. When your ESP warning light illuminates, it could be due to any of the following reasons:

  1. Faulty wheel speed sensors: the wheel speed sensors are a key part of the ESP system. They monitor the rotational speed of each wheel. If these sensors are not working correctly, it will cause the ESP warning light to illuminate
  2. Malfunctioning steering angle sensor: the steering angle sensor helps the ESP system understand the angle of the steering wheel. A faulty sensor could send incorrect data to the ESP system, causing it to malfunction
  3. Damaged wiring: any damage to the wires within the ESP system can lead to ESP malfunction
  4. Mechanical problems: issues like uneven tyre pressure or poor wheel alignment could also cause the ESP system to work incorrectly

It's important to note that the presence of the ESP light does not necessarily mean there's a problem with the ESP system itself. It could be a sign of other issues in the car that are affecting the ESP's operation.

Find out what’s causing the ESP warning light to turn on, get you vehicle checked by professional mechanics in Caura

What to do when the ESP warning light turns on

The ESP warning light indicates that an issue that needs attention. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Slow down: since the ESP helps with vehicle stability, it’s best to slow down, especially if road conditions are poor
  2. Get it checked: at your earliest convenience, take your vehicle to a professional mechanic. They will be able to run diagnostics and find out what is turning the ESP warning light on

Can an ESP warning light fail an MOT?

Yes, your car will fail an MOT if the ESP light is on.

Electronic Stability Control (ESP) is an important safety feature that helps to prevent your car from skidding or losing control. If the ESP light is on, it means that there is a problem with the system and it may not be working properly. This could make your car more dangerous to drive, so it will fail the MOT.

It’s best to take your car to a garage and get it checked by a professional mechanic if you're not sure why the light is on.

Here are some tips to help you avoid failing your MOT due to an ESP light:

  • Get your car serviced regularly. This will help to identify and fix any problems with the ESP system before they cause the light to come on
  • Check the ESP light regularly. If it comes on, don't ignore it. Take your car to a garage to have it checked out as soon as possible

In conclusion, the ESP warning light is an integral part of your vehicle's safety system. While it's not a cause for panic, it should never be ignored. Familiarising yourself with what causes an ESP malfunction and how to respond when the warning light turns on is essential for maintaining your vehicle and ensuring your safety on the road.

Remember that regular maintenance and checks can help prevent such issues from cropping up, and ensure that your vehicle's ESP system is in good working condition.

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