How Traction Control Systems Work and How They Keep You Safe

An automobile traction control system is a vehicle safety system designed to improve automobile stability and help drivers keep control of their vehicles. Traction control systems do this by preventing excessive wheel spin during acceleration and by detecting the loss of grip in one or two wheels that can indicate an imminent skid.

NOTE: You can bring your car anytime to our auto service shop in Cambridge if you want to prepare for a stress-free road trip. Our professional licensed mechanics can help.

Traction control systems are integrated with other safety systems, such as anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. They work with these systems, using their sensors, but are designed to respond to specific criteria that indicate loss of tire grip on the road. 

How Traction Control Systems Work

Traction control systems work by detecting when one or more of a vehicle’s wheels lose their grip on the road surface. The system uses your vehicle’s speed sensors (VSS) – which feed wheel spin speed to your speedometer – to detect the loss of wheel traction as the wheel in question will start spinning faster than the other wheels. 

The traction control system will then promote the vehicle’s ABS to automatically apply brakes to the wheels that are spinning too fast, reducing engine power at the same time. This helps to keep the vehicle going straight and helps to prevent further wheel spin and a consequent full loss of traction across all wheels.

Benefits of Traction Control Systems 

There are several benefits offered by traction control systems when driving in less-than-ideal conditions and on bad road surfaces that may be uneven, stony, or slippery. These include improved handling and stability on icy or wet roads, reduced risk of skidding, and better control and acceleration.

Improved Stability and Handling in Slippery Conditions 

Traction control systems instantly detect loss of grip and intervene immediately to prevent wheel spin and loss of control when negotiating bends in the road, or when cornering and changing direction. They prevent excessive wheel spin that can cause oversteering or understeering and result in an accident. They also help to prevent wheel lock-up caused by a driver braking suddenly by adjusting the braking power to individual wheels to keep the vehicle straight, with all four wheels maintaining traction, reducing loss of control and helping to prevent a sideways skid.

Reduced Risk of Skidding or Spinning Out 

Manual attempts to straighten a skidding or sliding car often result in overcompensation and ‘fishtailing’ of the vehicle. This can in turn quickly lead to all four wheels losing traction and a complete loss of control.

The traction control system will adjust wheel spin speed by applying brakes selectively to keep all four wheels on the road with even pressure and grip, slowing the car at the same time to give back control to the driver.

Better Acceleration and Control When Driving on Uneven Surfaces 

Sometimes the only way to get out of a skid is to accelerate out of it. This is impossible to do safely and effectively when one or more wheels do not have full traction on the rod surface. Manually, this works only when the loss of traction that threatens a slide or skid is not severe. If it is severe, attempts to accelerate can result in the car spinning out of control or even becoming airborne.

Traction control systems ensure that all four wheels have traction as you accelerate – in any situation.

How We Can Help You Maintain Your Safety 

As a tire safety and road safety feature, traction control systems are beneficial in all conditions and for all cars, but they are essential for vehicles that regularly negotiate icy or wet roads and non-tarred surfaces such as gravel roads.

Most modern vehicles are fitted with traction control systems, but like any other system installed in your car or truck, it needs to be checked, tested, and maintained. This is especially important for driver safety in vehicles that frequently face challenging road conditions, icy roads, non-tarred roads or uneven road surfaces, and long journeys.

Contact Special Interest Automobiles today for professional auto repairs and maintenance services – to keep you safe on Canada’s roads.