Yes, stability control and traction control should come on automatically every time you start the engine. Even if you turn these safety features off (there should be an interior switch for that), they should come on again automatically the next time you start the car.

We hope you are asking this question in anticipation of buying a vehicle that has stability control and that it is not on your present wheels. If your current vehicle has stability control and it's not obvious, use the owner's manual to find it.


Electronic stability control automatically intervenes when it senses a vehicle is about to skid by applying the brakes at individual wheels and in some cases reducing engine power to help prevent loss of control. It has been required on all cars and light trucks since the 2012 model year, though it was installed on many earlier models as well.

For those who are unsure whether their vehicle has stability control, look at the dashboard or console for a switch that turns it off (look for the letters ESC or an outline of a vehicle with wavy lines). In addition, a warning light should come on for a few seconds when you start the engine or turn the ignition to the on position. If all else fails, consult the instructions that came with the vehicle — the owner's manual.

If stability control is turned off or the system isn't working, a warning light should remain lit until it is turned on again or any issues are resolved.

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Answered by Rick Popely on April 3, 2013 in How Safe is This Car? | Permalink

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