Chevy Malibu Service ESC is one of the most common issues that owners may face while driving their vehicles.
The issue can be faced by any model year of Chevrolet Malibu manufactured between 2008 and 2015.
I had a few Malibus come to my workshop with the “Service ESC” fault message, in this article I will explain what causes the issue, and how to fix it.
Let’s get to it.
What Does “Service ESC” Mean on a Chevy Malibu
In order to know what “Service ESC” means, I think it is crucial to understand what ESC is.
In short, ESC stands for Electronic Stability Control, which is a system that monitors the vehicle’s stability and assists the driver in maintaining control of their vehicle during emergency maneuvers (such as when braking on slippery surfaces).
The ESC system uses a variety of sensors to monitor speed, steering input, and yaw, as well as tire pressure.
When “Sevice ESC” comes up on your Malibu dashboard it simply means the electronic control unit (ECU) detected a fault in the system and needs to be checked.
What Causes Service ESC on a Chevrolet Malibu?
After working on several Chevrolet Malibu vehicles, we have found there to be a few common causes of the “Service ESC” warning light. Here is what I found to be the main causes
1. Faulty Wheel Speed Sensor
The first is a faulty wheel speed sensor, which will cause the vehicle to register a slower speed than it actually travels at.
This can happen if the sensor gets dirty or damaged, causing it to send incorrect information to the ECU.
The wheel speed sensor is responsible for sending information about how fast the wheels are turning to the ECU.
It does this by using a magnetic field that changes as each wheel turns. The ECU then calculates how fast the car is moving based on this information.
If this sensor malfunctions, it can cause issues with traction control and stability control systems, as well as other warning lights like “service ESC” and “service traction system”.
These sensors are found in each wheel of your roe Chevy malibu, one or more are prone to fail due to factors such as wear and tear and exposure to extreme conditions.
2. Bad Wheel Bearing
Another common cause of a “Service ESC” warning light is a bad wheel bearing.
The wheel bearings are small metal pieces that sit between the hub of your wheel and its axle.
They allow for the two parts to rotate freely without rubbing against each other.
When these parts wear out or get damaged, it can cause issues with Electronic stability control, traction control, ABS, and more.
Please note, Technically there are more than two causes of the “Service ESC” warning light. However, these are the most common causes that I found after fixing a handful of Malibus.
How to Fix a Chevy Malibu that is Showing a “Service ESC” Warning
Now, that I have explained what causes the service ESC warning light to come on, I will explain how to fix it.
Replace wheel Speed Sensors
The first thing you need to do is check the wheel Speed Sensors. If you have access to a scanner you can plug it up and check which one is faulty.
If you don’t have an OBD scanner, then I recommend replacing all 4 sensors at the same time. If you only replace one, then it is likely that the other 3 will fail as well.
You can simply do it yourself by removing the tire and replacing the sensor. It’s very easy, even if you are not mechanically inclined.
If you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, then I recommend taking your vehicle to a dealer or any independent garage.
Fortunately, wheel speed sensors are relatively inexpensive ($15-30) and can be easily replaced.
Check the Wheel Bearings
If the wheel speed sensors don’t fix the service ESC on your Malibu, then there is a good chance that the wheel bearings are damaged.
If this is the case, then you will need to replace the bearing(s) with new ones.
I recommend taking your vehicle to a dealer or any independent garage. It’s not difficult, but it’s better to leave this job to the professionals.