96 Cavalier with ETS light on all the time - why?

Hello all,

Have a 1996 Cavalier, 2.2L, 220K kms, that runs and drives well. Only problem is that the “ETS OFF” (Electronic Traction System?) light is always on. It’s on from start up, while in park, e-brake on or off, and all the time while driving.

I know the ETS will reduce engine speed when it senses a wheel slipping…what would cause it to be always off? Will a code scanner tell me anything (ordered one, it’s on its way in the mail)?

Also, how important is it to have this ETS on…I don’t really like these “helpful” systems myself…

Thanks as always!


The code scanner you have coming won’t pull ABS or ETS codes. These scanners are only for OBDII engine management systems. It requires a special scanner to pull ABS and ETS codes.

If the ABS light isn’t on, then there’s a problem with ETS itself. If the ABS light were on also, then there would be a problem with the ABS which would cause ETS light to come on also. That’s because these two systems work together.

So, you’ll have to bring the vehicle in so an ABS/ETS scanner can be hooked up to determine as to why the ETS light is on.


I have a 2000 Olds Silhouette (van) with ABS and TCS (traction control system).

When you want to disable the TCS you simply push the switch to disengage and the light comes on in the switch and on the dash.

To re-engage it, simply push the switch again and the light should go off.

I’m not saying you did or did not push the switch but humor me and push the switch again and see if the lights go off.

I hate these kind of switches because if the light burns out you have no way of knowing if the system is working unless you try to spin a wheel.

Note: don’t forget the ABS and the ETC (or TCS) work together.

Unfortunately, I did look for such a switch, but there is none in this vehicle…