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What does it mean when ESP light in dash comes on? Mercedes Benz

Overview of Electronic Stability Program


If you are driving a Mercedes-Benz and you start driving it like you stole it you may notice the ESP light starting to flash on your instrument cluster. You have never seen an ESP light before and the letter aren’t self-explanatory either.

The first question that comes to mind is:

What does ESP stand for?

ESP stand for Electronic Stability Program, at least in the Mercedes-Benz dictionary. It uses input from several sensor to help stabilize the car during cornering, over steering, under steering or slipping.

That name kind of gives you a hint, but you are still wondering what that means or how does it work.

ESP is a system developed by Mercedes-Benz a long time ago, when Hyundai didn’t even exist as a brand. The basic principle is that the car will detect when a wheel rotates at a faster rate, way faster than the other wheels. This is done by monitoring the rotation speed of each wheel using the ABS sensors on the wheel.


What does a flashing ESP light mean?

If the light is blinking, it means the car has detected at least of the wheel is slipping and it is doing it’s job by helping you stay on track. The ESP system is intervening. This is normal operation of the system. You are either trying to push the limit or are driving on very poor road conditions such as snow or ice. Try to drive more carefully next time you see the light start to flash. The ESP will try to keep you safe but it can not defy the laws of physics.

ESP light stays on all the time.

If the light is always on, the ESP is either off or has detected a problem. ESP light stay on constantly if the “ESP Off” button was pressed. To turn it off: Press the ESP button on the dash of your Mercedes-Benz and hold it for 5 seconds. This will reset the light. If the light doesn’t go off then you have a malfunction and should troubleshoot the problem or visit a repair shop.

What does ESP do then?

What the ESP conrol module does is that it will apply brake pressure to the wheel that is spining too much. Because it shouldn’t spin at a much higher rate than the other three wheels. After all, all the wheels should be getting to the destination at the same time.

Under what conditions is ESP triggered?

ESP is triggered when you get stuck in the mud for example. It can also be triggered if you go around the corner too fast and the car begins to slide or the tires to loose traction.

ESP is an awesome feature that you don’t even find in that many cars even today. It’s a complicated system that requires an additional control unit and input from several sensor. It is worth every penny, if you can have that as an add-on option on your car. It comes standard with all Mercedes-Benz models sold today by the way.

According to Mercedes-Benz the ESP incorporated the input from the ABS (Anti Lock Brakes), ASR  and ETS. What this video for a detailed explanation.

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One comment

  1. A few days ago I was taking off from a stop sign in a shopping center, going straight, and got up to about 20 mph when all of a sudden the yellow ! warning light lit up, there was some popping/clicking and the car skidded to a stop in the road. After about 3 seconds of trying to make sure I wasn’t causing an accident I was able to pull off into a side parking lot.

    I put it in park and the ! light turned off. I let it idle in park for a minute before I tried to drive around the parking lot. As soon as I shifted into drive the ! light started flashing. After about 10 seconds the ! light stayed on. Then, about 10 seconds later the ABS light came on. From then on, both lights have remained on. I have 2 messages on the instrument panel saying “ABS, ESP unavailable” and “ABS, ESP inoperative”. Cruise control is also unavailable.

    The first bit of driving around immediately after the incident there were some rattling sounds coming from the vehicle. It felt and sounded like it was coming from the front driver side. There was some noticeable popping/clicking when I made a sharp right turn soon after it all started. Since then, I occasionally hear some lesser popping/clicking when making sharp right turns. I haven’t seemed to notice it much making left turns.

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