One of the newest monitoring systems on cars, trucks, and SUVs sold in the US is the yaw rate sensor. This sensor ties into the vehicle's traction control, stability control and antilock braking system to produce an alert when the tilt of your vehicle (the yaw) is reaching an unsafe level. Once this happens, it makes adjustments to the vehicle’s traction and stability controls to compensate to reduce the yaw rate. When it works well, it can save you from having an accident. However, like any other electrical devices, it is prone to having problems occasionally.
The yaw rate sensor is an electrical component that is stored either in the vehicle's ECU or under the dashboard near the fuse box. It's not commonly subject to wear and tear, and most issues with this device are attributed to problems with one of the three individual sensors it monitors. The yaw rate monitor is designed to last the lifespan of your vehicle, however, when the yaw rate sensor begins to fail, there are a few warning signs you might recognize. If there is an issue with this component, you'll have to have a professional ASE certified mechanic inspect and replace the yaw rate sensor as it's a very delicate process.
Listed below are a few of the warning signs that a problem with your yaw rate sensor may exist.
1. Check Engine Light comes on
When the yaw rate sensor works correctly, the fault that it detects is electronically sent to the device that needs to receive the input. This process is automatic and does not require any motion or action from the driver. However, when an issue with the system exists, whether due to poor data collection or an interruption in the communication process, the Check Engine Light will illuminate to alert the driver that a problem exists.
Since the Check Engine Light illuminates with multiple potential problems, it is always best for you to contact a local ASE certified mechanic who has diagnostic tools available to download error codes from the ECU and properly interpret them to discover the problem and make appropriate adjustments.
2. Vehicle Stability or Traction Control Lights illuminate
Since the yaw rate sensor monitors the operation of both of these systems, a problem with the YRS might trigger one or both of these indicator lights to light up on your dashboard. The Vehicle Stability Light is an automatic system that can't be turned on or off by the driver. The traction control system is easily turned off and will illuminate when the system is not in operation. When you turn off the traction control system, by default, the yaw rate sensor will not work. It not recommended for drivers to turn off the traction control system for any reason by the manufacturer.
If you see either light active on your dashboard and have not turned off the traction control device on your car, truck, or SUV, contact a local mechanic to inspect the issue and determine what is damaged or if the yaw rate sensor needs replacement.
3. Stability Control Light flashes intermittently
On many vehicles sold in the US, the SCS Light will illuminate and flash on and off intermittently when there is a problem with the yaw rate sensor. Although this symptom may pop up due to multiple reasons, it is very commonly attributed to a fault in the yaw rate sensor. One quick item that any car owner can do when this light flickers is to stop the car, put it in park, turn off the vehicle, and restart. If the light stays on, and continues to flicker, contact a mechanic as soon as possible.
The yaw rate sensor is a great safety device, however, the best safety system for any vehicle is a driver that operates the car correctly. In theory, this device should never have to work, as it only comes on when unstable or unsafe driving situations occur. However, when it goes bad, it can create additional safety risks, which is why you should contact a professional mechanic to inspect this system and make any repairs as needed.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Yaw Rate Sensor and was authored by Timothy Charlet.