ABS/TCS warn­ing lights

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Diagnostics Doctor -

Q: Re­cently, both the ABS and the TCS warn­ing lights have il­lu­mi­nated on the dash­board of my 2007 Skoda Oc­tavia 1.6 FSI with 99,000 miles. The TCS light could in­di­cate ESP, as both lights are the same de­sign, but I have no idea if the car has a sta­bil­ity pro­gramme. Some­times the light will ex­tin­guish and leave the ABS.

My lo­cal car me­chanic gave the car a thor­ough test­ing with the aid of a di­ag­nos­tic scan­ner, in­clud­ing two at­tempts to lock the wheels when brak­ing. Dur­ing the test, the fault cleared it­self and noth­ing ap­peared on the print-out. I doubt if the tool was a VCDS and I don’t see why this would make any dif­fer­ence, apart from the labour cost.

At first, the fault was in­ter­mit­tent. Now, the fault is more or less per­ma­nent. With­out a cor­rect di­ag­no­sis, I may end up re­plac­ing com­po­nents at ran­dom and get­ting nowhere. To avoid this, I would like to do some re­search be­fore­hand and would ap­pre­ci­ate your ad­vice. WHA Burgess

A: From the data I have, your Skoda should have a sta­bil­ity pro­gramme. As you say, the trac­tion con­trol light and elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol light are iden­ti­cal, but when a fault with one of the sys­tems is de­tected it should also flag up a warn­ing mes­sage in the in­for­ma­tion dis­play. This will be ei­ther ‘Er­ror: trac­tion con­trol (ASR)’ or ‘Er­ror: Elec­tronic Sta­bil­ity Con­trol (ESC)’.

The cor­rect di­ag­nos­tic equip­ment is a cru­cial fac­tor and most good work­shops should have the equip­ment to in­ter­ro­gate the ABS/ESC sys­tems. A road-test in­volv­ing at­tempt­ing to lock the wheels is not the best method of di­ag­no­sis. Un­like en­gine codes, there is no Euro­pean di­rec­tive on the com­pat­i­bil­ity of sys­tems to al­low codes to be read from the ABS/ESC sys­tems. The cor­rect soft­ware will cer­tainly point you in the right di­rec­tion and it may be a bet­ter op­tion to find an­other garage with the right equip­ment.

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