The Mystery of the Service StabiliTrak Light

TL;DR

There's an issue in many GM vehicles where the Service StabiliTrak warning light will turn on and off. Not only does this mean the stability control system isn't working, but some owners say it comes along with reduced engine power and a jerky transmission.

Console message says Service StabiliTrak
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Tagged
#steering #electrical

StabiliTrak is an electronic stability control system that uses a steering wheel position sensor to compare the position of the wheel to the vehicle's actual steering response. In the event that something is off, StabiliTrack will make small adjustments to the brake or engine torque to help a driver maintain control.

When there's a problem with the sensor, you'll likely see a Service StabiliTrak light on your dashboard. The light might also be accompanied by TRAC (traction control), STAB (another light for stabilitrak), or ABS (anti-lcok braking system) warnings lights. If those lights are on, the systems are off so drive accordingly. Or use the opportunity to do some wicked donuts in the parking lot. Your call.

The safety systems help you when the road is slippery or you need to make an emergency turn, so when they're disabled you might want to give yourself some extra space. And that'd be fine, but there are some reports of reduced engine power, a hesitating transmission, and poor MPGs all happening when the safety systems are off.

The problem is widespread enougn that it's coming up on LemonLaw.com.

Potential Reasons for the Service Light

The reason why some of these systems are failing is rather complex. GM recommends you try to reset the StabiliTrak system yourself by turning off the engine for at least 15 seconds, and starting the engine again.

It's sort of like what Internet Servive Providers tell you to do with your modem in that it's complete crap and rarely works, especially if the problem is a faulty sensor.

What sensor? you might ask. Well, some of the sensors that owners have reported needing to get replaced include:

  • Steering wheel position sensor
  • Park assist sensor
  • O2 sensor
  • Bank 1 Sensor 2 - Range Performance

And each of these sensors can run from $250-$400 to replace.

Cadillac Generations Where This Problem Happens

This problem has been reported by owners of the following generations. While there's no guarantee it affects all the listed model years, most years within a generation share the same parts, manufacturing processes, and problems.

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint

    CarComplaints.com is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint
  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify The CAS
  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA

More Information About The Affected Models

Cadillac SRX

PainRank
19.64
Complaints
420
Reliability
22nd out of 22

Cadillac XT5

PainRank
6.24
Complaints
18
Reliability
18th out of 22