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What Is Traction Control? - News

Traction control, otherwise known as stability control, initially emerged onto the scene in 1987, when Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Toyota all introduced the systems to some of their cars. However, it only became a compulsory requirement for all cars in the EU in 2011. Traction control has become so commonplace on our roads that many do not even realise it exists, let alone what it does. Don't fear, TrackDays.co.uk is here to give you a quick rundown...

Traction control, also known as anti-skid control, is a technology that is designed to improve the stability and handling of a vehicle by preventing the wheels from spinning excessively on slippery surfaces.

The car does this by using sensors to monitor the speed of the wheels and then automatically applying the brakes via the car's electronic control unit (ECU) to any wheel that is spinning too quickly. This helps to maintain a better grip on the road, especially in adverse weather conditions.

Remember, a spinning wheel means the tyre is not gripping the road! It's easy to tell when traction control is working on your car as a warning light will briefly flash on your dashboard if it has to engage while you're driving.

Before traction control was introduced, driving on slippery surfaces could be a real challenge. Cars would spin, skid and slide more frequently, making it difficult to maintain control and stay on the road. This was especially true for new drivers who were not experienced or skilled in handling a car in such conditions.

In addition to improving safety and stability while on the road, traction control also improves the performance of a car on a racing circuit. By maintaining better traction, the car is able to accelerate faster and maintain higher speeds around the track, giving drivers the edge in competitive racing, and improving lap times.

Forms of traction control have now become compulsory in some racing series, like in Formula 1 where it is required on the back wheels. However, before this came into play, some racing drivers would choose to turn off their traction control system when out on the track.

By switching off the traction control, racing drivers will use their intuition on the throttle and wheel to help push the car, rather than potentially being held back by the car's ECU. This is because traction control can limit the power and torque that can be applied to the wheels, which can ultimately affect the car's performance.

It is important to note that turning off the traction control system can be dangerous. It is not recommended to switch it off for everyday driving and should only be done in a controlled racing environment.

If you're looking to improve your driving skills, consider checking out our Skid Control Experiences as well our all new Safer Driving Course available to book through purchase of our Gift Vouchers.

What Is Traction Control?
13 February 2023
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