Ever experienced that while driving at high speeds, you take a sharp turn and feel the back end of the car slipping outwards or the tires spinning if you pass through some dirt on the road. If you have, then your car probably doesn’t have traction control system, also known as electronic stability control.
The basic idea behind traction system is to prevent loss of grip and further improve the grip of tires on the road. Loss of traction can occur due to multiple reasons including taking sharp turns at high speeds, dirt or wet roads, sudden acceleration/deceleration and numerous other reasons.
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Modern-day traction control systems are a built-in ECU function. All individual tires have speed sensors which keep track of speed of rotation of each tire. As soon as you lose traction, one or more tires start spinning at different speeds than the others. ECU monitors these reading and limits power to specific wheels to eliminate loss of traction. Modern-day ECU implements two methods to prevent loss of traction. Restricting power to wheels and using ABS. Once a wheel starts spinning faster than the rest, ABS module applies braking to control wheel spin and regain traction.
Many people believe that traction control and electronic stability control is the same thing, but it is not. There is only a minor difference which is, traction control has the ability to only limit the power to the wheels while electronic stability control has the ability to both limit power to wheels and apply brakes.
Traction control is an essential safety feature. Almost all new cars everywhere around the world come with traction control or vehicle stability control as standard. All across America and Europe, it is mandatory for a car to have traction control to be allowed on the road. It really saddens me to say that here in Pakistan traction control is not a standard/mandatory feature. Putting aside CBU’s and imported cars, only the top of the line Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla Altis Grande comes with such an important driver aid such as traction control.
If your car comes with traction/stability control, I would advise you always to keep it on because of it being an important safety feature, but it’s ok to disable it and lay some rubber once in a while.