My Volkswagen Jetta shows Error Stabilization Control (ESC)/ABS warning message on the dashboard. The problem first appeared a few weeks ago. At first it only appeared randomly, but for these few days it has been occurring all the time.

My car is still under warranty and I suspect that this is a hardware issue.

My scheduled service is next week, but I'm concerned that driving the car now can cause further damage to the car (I afraid that this might void the warranty because "I am misusing the car", is my fear warranted?). There is also an issue of whether it is safe to drive this car.

So, should I send the car immediately to the service center? Can I still drive the car in the mean time, will driving it cause further damage?

1 Answer 1


Many modern cars have advanced traction control systems which aim to prevent a loss of control, most of these operate by adding computer control to each individual brake, with a central computer using sensor data to determine how much to brake each wheel. These systems are designed to fail in a way that allows your brakes to still work - they aren't simply going to lock up on you - however you will lose any protection the system gives you. Some people's driving style (hard acceleration, hard braking) and the conditions they regularly drive in (snow, ice, gravel) make this more of a hazard than others. If you drive like you're in Super Mario Kart on snow then this system may have been keeping you from running into a tree, if you are a normal driver it may rarely be needed.

Driving with a malfunctioning ABS system shouldn't damage anything, and it shouldn't invalidate your warranty - many cars allow it to be disabled using a button, however if you are concerned about it then call your dealership. In fact I'd call them in any case as your car is under warranty and this should be covered. They may bring your car in earlier, or they may need a couple of days to get the right parts. You lose nothing by making that call.

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