What Does VSC Stand For?

Dashboard lights, including the ABS light, illuminated on a dashboard photo by Evan Sears

VSC stands for vehicle stability control, an electronic system designed to reduce the loss of vehicle control by monitoring steering direction and a vehicle’s actual direction, then applying braking force and possibly even reducing power to specific wheels in an attempt to counter a skid.

Related: What Does TPMS Mean?

Shop the 2020 Hyundai Palisade near you

2020 Hyundai Palisade Limited
53,603 mi.
Fair Deal
2020 Hyundai Palisade Limited
72,387 mi.
$35,788 $212 price drop
Fair Deal

VSC goes by many other acronyms, as well, one of the most common being ESC (for electronic stability control), which is used by both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and SAE International (formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers). Manufacturers use a variety of brand-specific names for the system (VSC can be found in Toyotas, for example).

Federal law has required all new cars sold in the U.S. since the 2012 model year to be equipped with VSC/ESC as standard equipment, but the technology has existed in some form since the 1980s. It differs from traction control, which adjusts wheelspin to provide improved traction but is not meant to improve steering control.

When the system activates, an icon typically will illuminate somewhere on the dashboard or gauge cluster, usually depicting a car with skid marks behind it inside a warning triangle. In some (but not all) vehicles, the system can be deactivated — either fully or partially — for situations where its intervention is undesirable, such as during performance driving. Manufacturers may also adjust the system’s parameters in order to allow for some slipping and sliding even when the system is fully engaged, usually in higher-performance cars.

More From

To learn what VSC/ESC is called in your particular car and how it operates, check your owner’s manual, which should have valuable information on all of its various safety systems.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Latest expert reviews