Advantages of Traction Control

January 27, 2012

Traction control is one of the newest safety features on the market. It now comes standard on many vehicles. A traction control system uses sensors to continuously detect the speed of each wheel. If the system observes a wheel spinning faster than others, it automatically prompts the brakes of that wheel to slow it down. Some traction control systems also apply engine reduction to take power away from the wheel.

Advantages of Traction Control
Owners of vehicles with traction control systems can benefit from some specific advantages of this kind of system.

  • Easy installation. Traction control systems often use the same infrastructure as anti-lock brakes, making factory direct installation of traction control easier for manufacturers
  • Safety for weather conditions. Traction control systems present effective automatic control for hydroplaning in snow and rain conditions
  • Insurance discounts. Auto insurance customers can often receive a discount for traction control and similar systems, since these top-rated safety features have proven safety values to insurers

Choosing modern safety features for a new or used car adds value to a vehicle and gives drivers more peace of mind for situations they may encounter on the road.

Disadvantages of Traction Control
Here are some reasons that car shoppers may be a little shy about getting into a ride enhanced with traction control.

  • Cost of purchase. The high-functioning gear that's involved in traction control can make a car an increasingly expensive purchase. Those looking to save money on a vehicle may be looking for older models that were cheaper to make.
  • Cost of maintenance. A vast range of things can damage traction control or anti-lock brake sensors, and with each of these carrying a hefty price tag, the cost of repairs can easily spin out of control. Those with past experience paying for a damaged anti-lock brake system may have a big aversion to getting even more in additional safety features loaded into a vehicle.
  • Limited use. Traction control systems are not ideal for all kinds of situations. Many experts claim drivers are better off with four wheel drive options for off-road use. Off-road use can also cause damages to the traction control system.

Traction Control System

Traction control is designed to limit wheel slippage during acceleration, particularly on wet or icy roads. Many modern vehicles employ a form of electronic control to regulate power delivered to the wheels helping to eliminate wheel slip. This allows the driver to accelerate under control.

Modern traction control makes use of sensors used by the anti-lock brake system. These sensors detect when one tire is rotating at a different speed than the others. Most often this occurs when one wheel is slipping on an icy or wet road. At this point the tire begins to rotate at a faster rate than the other three tires because it is receiving less resistance and more power. When this happens the wheel loses traction. When this difference in rotation is detected the traction control system activates the brakes on those wheels spinning faster, bringing their speed in line with the other wheels. Other forms of traction control actually limit the amount of power the engine provides for any wheels that are spinning faster than the others. With all the wheels spinning at the same rate there is more vehicle stability and the car is less like to slide sideways.

The 5 Safest Traction Control Cars

Although there are many vehicles that come with traction control, it's important for you to know which traction control vehicles rank high in terms of safety.

  • Chevy Malibu. This vehicle is available in four trims. It's given an excellent rating for government safety and reliability tests and has a four star rating for rollover incidents. Some of the safety features offered for this model include tire-pressure monitoring, traction control, airbags and an OnStar safety system
  • Buick LaCrosse. This vehicle has been given the highest score in government crash tests. Traction control and stability are standard features on all trims. The vehicle also features a limited time subscription to the OnStar safety system
  • Volvo C30. The Volvo C30 features a stability traction control system, whiplash protection system and front and side airbags. Buyers also have the option to add a blind spot information system or a rear parking assist
  • Ford F-150. This vehicle can be programmed to limit its speed. It has several safety features such as rollover resistance, electronic stability control and side curtain airbags
  • Hyundai Genesis. The Hyundai Genesis features airbags, active front head restraints, anti lock disc brakes and traction control. The vehicle also does exceptionally well in government crash safety tests

Although price is often a determining factor when selecting a new vehicle, it's equally important to choose a vehicle that safe. Vehicles that are equipped with the latest safety features are also likely to have lower insurance premiums.


Related Questions and Answers

When Does an Automatic Traction Control Turn On?

Automatic traction control turns on when it detects that a wheel is slipping or losing traction. Wheel sensors monitor the wheel speed of each of the vehicle's wheels. It is constantly comparing the various wheels speeds and if it finds one to be spinning faster than the others, the traction control system kicks in to correct the problem. The traction control system slows the spinning wheel, which allows it to regain traction. In some cases the system will reduce engine torque, which also helps the wheel regain traction. Once the wheel has regained traction, the system goes back to monitoring the wheels.

What Does the Traction Control Warning Light Mean?

If a traction control warning light comes on, there could be any number of reasons for it. It is best to check your vehicle's owner manual to determine exactly what the warning light means. In many cases the light will come on if the vehicle detects a loss of traction, which can occur on wet or snowy surfaces. It is also possible that the light is on because the system detects a problem that needs to be looked at by a professional. If the light is on all of the time, this is more than likely the issue. You should immediately take the car to the dealership or a mechanic to have it completely checked out.

What is the Average Price of a Vehicle Traction Control Add On System?

Vehicle traction control is normally offered as part of an upgraded trim level. It is not normally offered as a stand alone system. If traction control is offered as a stand alone system, it averages between $250 and $500. When bundled with other options such as a trim package, the cost can run into the thousands of dollars depending on what is included. An anti-lock brake system is often bundled with traction control systems. Roughly 50 percent of the cars sold in the United States are offered with traction control as standard or as an option. Traction control systems are not readily available as an after market system that can be installed.

Where are a Vehicle's Traction Control Sensors Located?

Traction control sensors are located on each wheel of the vehicle. These sensors relay information about wheel spin speed to the system's main computer. If it detects a difference in the speed between the wheels, it will act to slow down the tire that is spinning faster. A wheel that is spinning faster than the others indicates that it is losing traction. The traction control system will use the braking system to slow the spin of the wheel to help it regain traction. A traction control system will also reduce engine torque to slow the wheel, allowing it to regain traction.

Does Traction Control Just Automatically Turn on the Brakes?

Traction control and brakes are related, but it is much more complicated than just applying the brakes automatically. A traction control system adds another solenoid valve in the anti-locking braking system modulator. This lets the traction control system slow the wheel that is spinning. It can hold, release and then reapply braking pressure until the wheel regains traction. In addition, it interacts with the power-train control module, reducing engine torque until the wheel has regained traction. Once traction has been regained, the traction control system goes back to monitoring wheel speed and comparing it to the other wheels.

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