Have you ever tried to accelerate hard from a stop light on a wet slick road? Without automatic traction control a driver would have to feather the gas pedal and balance the acceleration and wheel spin. This is a skill that some drivers just don’t have.
But what if you could just smash the pedal to the floor and let the car handle the complicated stuff. Enter modern day traction control automotive technology.
Not only is this high tech system useful on wet roadways but on snow covered ones as well.
Yes you can still get stuck especially if there is a layer of ice under the snow. But the common problem of digging yourself in even deeper with spinning tires is greatly reduced.
I was fortunate enough to own and drive a corvette for a short time. This was my first vehicle with a traction control system. It worked flawlessly and I never had a problem with it.
It came in handy many times. Here is an example of this systems usefulness. When driving on the local highway after a light rain the road surface was like ice.
After a few weeks of no rain followed by a light rain the oil from the road would float to the top causing super slickness.
Sitting at a four way stop with a very light fiberglass car and 400 horsepower driving the rear wheels meant lots of tire spinning.
With the traction control engaged there was almost no wheel spin and I had the ability to leave everybody in the dust as if the street was dry.
How traction control works
The slick part of modern traction control systems is that they use proven automotive technology already deployed on the vehicle. The ABS system is at the heart of most types of this burn out reducing system. Some high line vehicles with fly by wire will actually vary throttle position.
The vehicle’s antilock brake system pumps the brakes when a wheel is going into a locked condition. This same ABS system is used when a drive wheel is sensed to be slipping against the road surface as compared to vehicle speed and the speed of the other wheels. The ATC system will pulse the brake caliper to slow only the slipping wheel down.
Automatic traction control is also very helpful on all wheel drive vehicles and 4×4 off road sport utility vehicles. If one of these types of automobiles looses traction at one wheel this could hamper the drivers over all control. ATC keeps the driver on track without them even realizing it.
ATC started out as a sales feature that was offered by dealerships as an advantage of their automobile line-up. As a side benefit the systems have been found to be extremely helpful with overall traffic safety.
As this automotive technology becomes more efficient and less expensive we will see much more of them deployed on automobiles. We may even see the day when they are standard equipment or required by the Government on all vehicles sold in the United States.