Audi A4 Owners & Service Manuals

Audi A4: Electronic Stabilization Control


Electronic Stabilization Control (ESC) supports driver safety. It reduces the risk of slipping and improves driving stability. ESC detects critical situations, such as if the vehicle is oversteering or understeering, or if the wheels are spinning.

The brakes are applied or the motor torque is reduced in order to stabilize the vehicle.

The following stabilization functions are integrated into the ESC, among others:

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

ABS prevents the wheels from locking when braking.

The vehicle can still be steered even during hard braking. Apply steady pressure to the brake pedal. Do not pump the pedal.

A pulsing in the brake pedal indicates that the system is acting to stabilize the vehicle.

Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR)

ASR reduces drive power when the wheels begin spinning and adapts the power to the road conditions.

This will increase the driving stability.

Electronic Differential Lock (EDL)

The EDL applies the brakes to wheels that are slipping and transfers the drive power to the other wheels. This function is not available at higher speeds.

In extreme cases, EDL automatically switches off to keep the brake on the braked wheel from overheating.

The vehicle is still functioning correctly.

EDL will switch on again automatically when conditions have returned to normal.

Selective wheel torque control

Selective wheel torque control is used when driving on curves. Braking is targeted toward the wheels on the inside of the curve as needed. This allows more precise driving in curves.

Power steering

The ESC can also support vehicle stability through steering.


  • The ESC and its integrated systems cannot overcome the limits imposed by natural physical laws. This is especially important on slippery or wet roads. If the systems begin acting to stabilize your vehicle, you should immediately alter your speed to match the road and traffic conditions. Do not let the increased safety provided tempt you into taking risks. This could increase your risk of a collision.
  • Please note the risk of a collision increases when driving fast, especially through curves and on slippery or wet roads, and when driving too close to objects ahead. There is still a risk of accidents because the ESC and its integrated systems cannot always prevent collisions.
  • Accelerate carefully when driving on smooth, slippery surfaces such as ice and snow. The drive wheels can spin even when these control systems are installed and this can affect driving stability and increase the risk of a collision.


The ABS and ASR only function correctly when all four wheels have a similar wear condition.

Different tire sizes can lead to a reduction in motor power.


The button (or , depending on the model) for controlling the ESC is located in the center console, in front of the selector lever. The ESC is automatically switched on when the ignition is switched on.

Limiting ESC

In some situations, it may make sense to limit the stabilizing function of the ESC so that the wheels can spin, for example to rock a vehicle to free it when it is stuck or to drive with snow chains. The ESC can also be limited to provide more sporty driving characteristics with fewer stabilizing corrective actions.

  • To limit the ESC, press the button briefly.

    The indicator light will turn on.

  • To completely reactivate the ESC stabilization function, press the button again. The indicator light turns off.

When ESC is limited, allroad models switch to Offroad mode. All other model versions switch to Sport mode. Sport mode is particularly suited for driving on an even road surface. Offroad mode is designed for uneven terrain or loose ground.

Switching off ESC

For a more active control of the vehicle where the stabilizing functions of the ESC cannot intervene, the ESC can be switched off.

  • To switch off the ESC, press and hold the button for more than three seconds. The and indicator lights turn on.
  • To completely reactivate the ESC stabilization function, press the button again. The indicator lights turn off.


  • When the ESC is switched off or limited, there will be no vehicle stabilization or it will be limited. The driving wheels could spin and the vehicle could swerve, especially on slick or slippery road surfaces, which increases the risk of an accident.
  • Because of the increased risk of an accident, only drive with the ESC switched off or Limited when it is necessary. Reactivate the ESC as soon as possible.


  • If you select the Audi drive select* offroad mode, hill descent assist will switch on.
  • If the ESC is limited, switched off, or malfunctioning, systems with an automatic braking intervention function may not be fully available.
  • If malfunctions occur in other systems or certain driver assist systems are active, the ESC must be switched on by the system. The ESC may switch on automatically and cannot be operated with the button.


The following messages may appear depending on the vehicle equipment:

Stabilization control (ESC/ ABS): malfunction! See owner's manual

There is a malfunction in the ABS or EDL. This also causes the ESC to malfunction. The brakes still function with their normal power, but ABS is not active.

Drive to an authorized Audi dealer or authorized Audi Service Facility immediately to have the malfunction corrected.

Other indicator lights

If blinks while driving, the ESC is actively regulating.

Operating noises may occur. If the indicator light stays on, the ESC has been switched off due to system needs. The indicator light turns off when the system is fully functional.



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