10 Facts about ESP Malfunction

What are ESC and ESP? When does this Light Blink? What does it Signify? What Steps should You take? What are Other Terms of ESP?
10 facts about ESP malfunction
Photo by Jannis Lucas on Unsplash

Ever since the first vehicle of the world, the Benz Patent Motor Car, was launched on 29-January-1886, generations have witnessed a continuous improvement in the automobile industry. Though earlier these vehicles had only a couple of features, today, cars have become safer with enhanced functions. One of these functions is the ESP malfunction light. Now you may be confused about what is the ESPand what exactly is the ESP malfunction. Let us find it together.

1. Definition of Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Computer technology used to detect and reduce the loss of traction to improve the stability of the device is termed Electronic Stability Control. Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) or Electronic Stability Program (ESP) are a few other terms. The first system of this kind was installed in a Toyota Crown in 1983 and now almost every vehicle comes with this function. (See What is an Oil Change?)

2. Function of ESP Warning Light

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Photo by Maxime Renard

So, what is the ESP? An Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is a warning light that will warn you about the threat of a car malfunctioning. The light immediately turns on whenever a person is driving in an adverse condition which causes the car wheels to skid. If the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) icon displays then it means that the function is active. (See How Fast does the Fastest Car go?)

3. Function of ESP

This function monitors the steering and vehicle by monitoring the angle of steering made by the driver along with the speed of the wheels on-road, lateral acceleration, and vehicle rotation. Whenever a vehicle is not moving as per the steering command of the driver, this function becomes active. (See What is the Most Popular Muscle Car?)

4. Importance of ESP

So we have understood what is the ESP in exact terms. Now, let’s understand the importance before moving towards ESP malfunction.  According to 2019 research by Bloomberg Philanthropists, among the various functions of a car, the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is the one that helps in avoiding car crashes and accidents to a large extent. It reduces deaths due to loss of control by 38%.  (See 8 Fuel Types For Cars)

5. ESP Signals to Engine

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Whenever a car is out of control and the ESP senses vigorous steering, it immediately signals the engine to reduce power. As the power supplied by the engine reduces, your steering will also get back to normal because the car will be in control now. (See What is a Highway Mileage Sign?)

6. Failure of ESP Lights

If you notice the symbol flashing irrespective of any out-of-control situation, then the case may be one of the two:

  • You have switched off the system by long pressing the button having the ESP symbol.
  • There is some fault in the system.

Sometimes this may happen that you are driving fine but the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) icon is displayed on the screen. This may simply mean that the steering or wheel sensors need replacement. There are instances when you can see the light on, but the ESP icon is not flashing. It happens when there is a fault in the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) traction function. (See How Long does it Take to Drive 1 Mile?)

7. Some more Causes for ESP Warning

Though these lights flash when the car is out of control, there are several other reasons which can also lead to this light flashing. It is recommended to keep the following reasons in mind and get a thorough check-up of the car.

  • The Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) rings are not working properly. The main work of the ABS sensor is to measure the speed of the wheel using these rings. And when these rings break, they cause a wrong measurement of the speed and send misleading signals to the system. 
  • The wheel sensors send the wheel speed information to the ABS control unit. This unit analyses the information and takes the necessary steps. If the ABS sensor is not working properly or is broken, the information sent to the control unit may be wrong or faulty.
  • The wiring of the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) is in a bad condition due to over usage of the car.
  • The Brake Pedal Switch that is installed to send signals to the ESP system about the pressure and frequency of brakes applied is broken and may be sending the wrong information to the system. Also, check out How can you differentiate between the gas and the brake pedal?
  • Another cause for an ESP malfunction is there is something wrong with the throttle body. This part of the car controls the power output of the ESP function when a car slips. 

8. Steps to be taken after ESP Malfunction

The ESP light may turn on as you start the engine. In such a condition, it is advisable to not drive the car. Even if you are not going on a bumpy ride, or you are going just somewhere nearby, then also, avoid the car and get it checked.

Another measure that you can take is to check your On-board Diagnostic II(OBD II) scanner for the trouble codes to know the reason behind the ESP light turning on. The OBD II  is the scanner device of a car. Coolant, car temperature, road speed, throttle, camshaft, and crankshaft are the information that you can get through this device. (See How to Change Transmission Fluid and Filter?)

9. Effects of Turning off ESP function

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Photo by Yuvraj Singh

The option to turn off an Esp function is not given in all car models. But some cars like Volkswagen have this feature. But even if you turn off the ESP function, it doesn’t really shut down. It acts like those tracking devices which run in the background of your phones. After you switch it off, the Electronic Stability Program function will only give you some slack in driving. (See How Is Gasoline Made From Oil?)

10. Other Technological Meanings of ESP Malfunction

Take a look at various other possible meanings of the term ESP.

  • Electric submersible pump – A device to pump out underground water electronically.
  • Electro-selective pattern – An Olympus marketing technology for marketing digital technology.
  • Electronic spinning trapping – A technique used in chemistry and biology.
  • Electronic skip protection – A data buffer system that is used in portable CD players.
  • Electrostatic precipitator – A filtration device to remove fine particles from the flowing gas.
  • Enterprise Simulation platform – The commercial version by Lockheed-Martin for Microsoft Flight Simulator X, now called Prepar3D.
  • Equalizing snoop probe – A high-speed digital signal which ensures accurate data recovery.
  • External static pressure – The pressure of air felt by the fan when blown into the duct.
  • External stowage program – A cargo platform used on the International Space Station (ISS). (Also read What Is The Meaning Of OD Off?)
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