VDC Warning Light: What Does this Warning Mean and What You Should Do About It?

Seeing a warning light pop up on your car’s dashboard is always alarming. 

One common warning light is the VDC or Vehicle Dynamic Control light. 

This orange-coloured light, which often shows a picture of a car skidding, indicates an issue with your vehicle’s traction control system.

What Does It Mean When the VDC Light Comes On?

  • The VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) system helps to improve the vehicle’s traction and stability by reducing the engine power and by applying brake pressure to specific wheels when the system detects wheel spin or loss of traction. 
  • When the VDC light comes on in your vehicle’s instrument cluster, it means that there is an issue with the VDC system that requires attention.

Some common reasons for the VDC light to illuminate include:

  • A malfunction in one of the VDC system components, such as the wheel speed sensors, steering angle sensors, lateral acceleration sensors, yaw rate sensors, brake system parts, or the hydraulic unit. 
  • Computer diagnostic testing would be required to pinpoint the exact faulty component.
  • The VDC system has been temporarily disabled due to extended wheel spin. 
  • This usually occurs if you have been driving in inclement weather and the system activated but was unable to regain traction. 
  • After a short time, the VDC will reactivate itself to check if it regains functionality.
  • Low brake fluid level: the hydraulic unit relies on adequate brake fluid in order to build up pressure in the brake lines during VDC activation. 
  • Low brake fluid can trigger the light. Topping up the brake master cylinder reservoir will often resolve this once the ignition is turned on and off again.

What does VDC mean on a Nissan?

  • On Nissan vehicles, VDC stands for Vehicle Dynamic Control as well. 
  • As mentioned earlier, the VDC system on Nissans helps to improve vehicle traction and stability through selective brake pressure application and engine power reduction.

Specifically on Nissans, the VDC:

  • Works in conjunction with the ABS (anti-lock braking system) to apply hydraulic pressure to brakes when wheel lockup is detected during hard braking. This helps you to maintain the steering control.
  • Applies brake pressure to individual wheels and reduces engine torque if the system detects the vehicle beginning to understeer or oversteer. This counteracts the sideslip by keeping your intended travel direction.
  • Works at all speeds to correct slides and improve stability. For example, if the car begins to fishtail at highway speeds, the VDC can mitigate a spinout at that time.

How Do You Turn Off the VDC Light on a Nissan Murano?

If the VDC light appears in your Nissan Murano, here are few steps that you can take to attempt resetting the system, which may turn the warning light off:

  • Turn the ignition entirely off and remove the key for at least 10 minutes before trying again. This allows various vehicle control modules to reset themselves.
  • Check that your Murano’s brake fluid reservoir level reads between the “MAX” and “MIN” lines when cold. Top up with DOT 3 or 4 fluid if low. This is because low fluid can activate the light.
  • Make sure all tires are inflated to the door placard pressure recommendation. Improper pressures may affect the wheel speed readings and trigger’s the diagnostics trouble codes that are related to the VDC sensors.
  • Drive the Murano straight and accelerate gently to about 25 mph. Then, press down firmly on the brake pedal a few times while at speed by allowing the ABS system to activate entirely. This cycles the hydraulic control systems that are related to the VDC operations.
  • Turn the ignition entirely to the off position once again, wait a few minutes and then restart the engine. The VDC light may now remain off after completing these steps.
  • If the light returns or never goes out in the first place, further diagnosis by a professional technician is likely needed to pinpoint the fault in the VDC system components. Ignoring the light risks losing the stability control that VDC affords in emergency manoeuvres.

Can Low Brake Fluid Cause VDC Light to Come On?

  • Yes, an insufficient level of brake fluid is one potential cause for the VDC warning light to activate in a vehicle. 
  • As mentioned earlier, the VDC relies on the brake hydraulic unit and brake fluid pressure in order to function properly during the traction loss events.
  • Specifically, VDC can apply pressure to one or more brake callipers when trying to stabilize the wheel slippage. 
  • If there are inadequate brake fluid for the hydraulic unit to pressurize the lines correctly, it triggers a faulty code that turns on the VDC light. 
  • Topping up the brake master cylinder reservoir with fresh, clean fluid conforming to DOT3 or DOT4 specifications will often restore full VDC functionality once the air bubbles are bled from the system properly.
  • However, the light may not reset right away – you may need to drive a short distance with a few slow, gentle brake applications to get the VDC module to detect enough system pressure to turn off the warning light. 
  • Suppose it remains on the next ignition cycle. In that case, there may also be an underlying issue with the brake system components that connect to the VDC hydraulic unit, which requires diagnosis and repairs. 
  • However, confirming the proper fluid level is always a wise first step when dealing with a sudden VDC malfunctioning light. 
  • Paying prompt attention to low fluid levels and blinking brake indicators can help to avoid more severe and expensive brake repairs down the road.

Tips to Take on When Resetting the VDC System that Does not Turn the Light Off

If cycling the ignition, checking fluid levels, and attempting a VDC reset through gentle acceleration and braking, does not turn off the VDC warning light. Your Nissan likely requires diagnosis and repair by a professional technician. 

Here are some advanced steps:

  • Have the VDC-related faulty codes to read through the OBD-II diagnostic port. Auto parts chain stores may do this for free. The codes can provide insight on exactly which VDC component is malfunctioning.
  • Inspect all VDC-related sensors, including the wheel speed sensors, steering angle sensor, yaw and lateral acceleration sensors. 
  • Look for damage, loose connectors, and binding or poorly aligned components. This is because faulty sensor readings may confuses the VDC computer by triggering issues.
  • Have the brake hydraulic unit that generates pressure during VDC activation tested thoroughly. Malfunctions here can certainly cause warning lights.
  • Make sure that there are no binding or roughness in the suspension or steering components while turning the wheels through their full range of motion. 
  • Anything restricting the normal wheel movement may affects the VDC operations.
  • Ensure tires are balanced well, have adequate tread depth, proper inflation pressure, and those are at appropriate OEM size. This is because even minor tire issues can trigger the faults. 
  • Consider 26-30 psi for standard tires based on their weight rating and loads.
  • Check that the battery terminals and ground wires are clean and tight. Weak electrical power and grounds interrupt VDC systems as they rely on several surrounding sensors and computers.

Technical Steps to Diagnose the VDC System

When a VDC light stays on despite attempted resets and component inspections, professional auto technicians have advanced methods to diagnose the specific issue:

Step 1 – Scan tool OBD-II diagnostics

  • Hooking up a professional-grade scan tool can pull much more detailed VDC and traction control trouble codes than a basic code reader. 
  • It can analyze sensor parameters in real time as test drives occur.

Step 2 – VDC system static testing

  • Technicians test resistance, voltage signals, and connectivity at all system sensors and wiring harnesses related to the VDC without test drives. 
  • Check the fusing condition, computer power, ground supplies and all output actuator operations as well, before dynamic testing.

Step 3 – Test drives

  • The technician will drive the vehicle and deliberately activate the VDC system in empty parking lots. 
  • They feel for binding, hesitation or unwanted traction loss as the system engages. 
  • The scan tool hooked up during the drive can detect fault set conditions as well.

Step 4 – Advanced computer resets

  • Dealership scan tools have special functions to fully reset the VDC ECU adaption values and learning parameters after repairs are done. 
  • This completes the calibration and gets all sensors communicating properly once again.

Frequently Asked Questions About VDC Warning Light

Q: Is it safe to drive with the VDC light on?

A: It is not generally recommended to drive long distances with VDC disabled. If you did, you will lose the enhanced stability and the controlability that it provides. Have the exact fault diagnosed promptly to understand if certain functions still work or if it failed in a non-critical way before continuing driving.

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