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Jake
Jake, Technician
Category: Audi
Satisfied Customers: 2429
Experience:  Over 30 years experience, 17 years with Audi, Factory trained
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What does a triangle warning light with a circle?

Resolved Question:

A warning light showing a yellow circle with a triangle and an exclamation mark came on this morning, and stayed on for the four miles or so I drove to work. What is it? What should I do about it. For your information, it was, and still is, cold today in Minneapolis. Around minus 20 deg F. Would that have anything to do with the light coming on?

Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Audi
Expert:  Jake replied 8 years ago.

The triangle with the exclamation mark inside, and the circular arrow around it, is the warning indicator symbol for the Electronic Stability Program (ESP). It should illuminate when you turn the key and extinguish after about 2 seconds after starting.

The ESP as well as the ABS system are intertwined. ESP uses the ABS to correct various safety/handling concerns by applying or releasing pressure to any wheel or wheels to help stabilize the vehicle. It can also, override throttle input if it is appropriate. An example would be if you had to swerve hard to avoid a collision at high speed. If the car were to begin to slide, be it understeer (front) or oversteer (rear) the ESP would adjust throttle and wheel speeds to stabilize the vehicle. Quite amazing. Also, if you accelerate too quickly on ice it will adjust wheel speeds and the light will flash. This indicates the system is in "control mode".

As with ABS, it is supplemental and only comes into play when it is needed. If the MIL (Malfunction Indicator Light) is illuminated consider the system inoperative. The ESP controller must be scanned with a factory capable scanner for the Trouble Code Fault to determine the cause of the MIL illumination and testing of the effected component/circuit.

When you start the engine, if the light remains illuminated after starting, you can Try to reactivate the system by shutting the vehicle off, and then restarting it. Also, there should be a ESP switch on your center console that turns the system off and on. Possibly you pressed this switch by mistake? The system can be shut off for special reasons explained in your owner’s manual under "Electronic Stability Program".

I hope that I have answered your questions and addressed your concerns. Should you have any further questions for me, please do not hesitate to ask.

Thank You!

Jake and 2 other Audi Specialists are ready to help you

Electronic Stabilization Program explained 

Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP), known as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) or Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), is an electronic technology that helps increase the car’s consistency by sensing and decreasing the chance of skidding (loss of traction). When the ESP senses the driver has lost control of steering, this technology applies the brakes to help control the car where the driver wants it to go. The braking involuntary occurs to the wheels independently. For example, the outer wheel will help offset the oversteer, or the inner wheel will offset the understeer. Some ESP techniques help lower the engine's power until the car is under control. ESP however may not increase the car’s cornering function ability. Instead the ESP can help reduce the loss of control. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, ESP has helped lower one-third of fatal accidents. 

ESP components 

In cars, there are many different directing and safety tools that work simultaneously to help keep the wheels on the road as well as the driver and others safe. ESP specifically has two different systems Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) and traction control as well as other sensors. Before the ESP was released in cars, drivers would have to pump the breaks to keep the brakes from locking up and causing the car to slide to one side. ABS automatically pumps the brake faster than a driver is able to. This helps keeps the brakes from locking up, and causing the driver to either over or understeer. ESP also uses the system to helps correct issues before the ABS kicks on. 

Benefits 

ESP plays an important job in providing safe driving by lowing the number of severe wrecks. It is not uncommon for a driver to come across slippery and wet roads whether it be rain or snow. ESP as well as other safety tools mentioned above help stabilize control. ESP will not employ if a rear-end collisions occurs. However, some cars have safety tools that can help with this situation including sensors located in the front and back that help monitor the distance between the driver and other cars. Instead ESP is more useful when the car loses control regardless of the weather or if there are other drivers on the road.