Today it was snowy and at some point traction ctrl kicked in, showing the little vehicle light on the dash. There after the light went off. About 10 seconds after and I noticed a very short, very slight pull to the right, as if my steering was odd. It went away almost immediately.

About 30 seconds after this I got a jolt, like I had a missfire or as if the breaks had been slammed on and released instantly. It happened twice, the second time about a minute later.

Soon as I got home, connected the scanner, nothing. Well there was stuff but not related to this, so different questions for these...

My best guess is that the traction ctrl is applying brake when it should not be, perhaps slightly, leading to the strange steering sensation and then the sudden jolt applied hard?

Any suggestions where to start on tracking this down?


I discovered under hard acceleration that the 4WD light would come on which implies oil temperature too high. I have now discovered that my real differential is leaking oil. I cannot tell if it is leaking from the side-gear or the back gasket or both.

Could this explain the jolts?

2 Answers 2


I don't know that you necessarily have a problem. Unless this event nearly caused you to lose control, it sounds normal for traction control as it senses when traction lost and regained.

These systems take over automatically using other systems to help regain traction. For instance, engine control is used to reduce RPMs and/or the anti-lock braking is used to reduce wheel spin. Each manufacturer is different on how their system is configured and operates.

With or without a traction control system, any time tires lose traction and then gets a "bite" there it is possible some shock is felt inside the car. Depending on how the vehicle lost traction and what the vehicle orientation was (slight sideways sliding), it can feel like the car pulls to the side.

  • The thing about what happened, is there was about 1 minute between the jolt taking place, and normal driving having resumed and traction control light going out. If this jolt happened during the abs engaging I would agree, but these jolts happened after normal driving had resumed when no apparent slipping was happening. Perhaps a wheel speed sensor issue?
    – Chris
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 16:18
  • Your question didn't mention a time frame other than "It went away almost immediately". By the age of the car, it could be caused by any number of things from sensors to electric circuits. It sounds like this was a single incident. In that case, I wouldn't worry unless it becomes frequent. If it is concerning to you, take it to a dealer who can read all the codes in the system and perform a check to ensure all is well.
    – CharlieRB
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 18:03
  • Valid point, ill update question with time estimates. I have been recommended to try and reproduce the issue with a scanner running and see when wheel ABS kicks in
    – Chris
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 15:33

The traction control light usually lights up when the system activates. Once traction has been regained, the light will go off. This would explain the light coming on and going off again almost immediately.

It does this by selectively applying your brakes to prevent a skid. Not all 4 tires at once, just whichever ones it wants to apply to prevent a wheel from spinning. This would explain the brake feeling.

You were driving in snow and lost traction. Traction control did its job. Sounds like everything is working perfect to me.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .