What Is Traction Control? Getting a Grip on Wheel Slippage-Fighting Tech

What Is Traction Control? Getting a Grip on Wheel Slippage-Fighting Tech

When a tire slips off the road surface, slips or turns, bad things can happen, like crashes and captivating dashboard camera videos. The engineering community first tackled the problem of skidding, with an initial anti-lock braking (ABS) patent awarded to German engineer Karl Waessel in 1928. The 1966 Jensen FF introduced automotive ABS technology for the first time , but the computerized anti-lock braking system with four wheels as we know it arrived today on the Imperial 1971 and became compulsory on all passenger vehicles from 2004 (EU) and 2013 (USA). It didn’t take long for the engineering community to recognize that the sensors, computers, and actuators needed to detect and prevent a tire from skidding could, with modifications, be trained to prevent it from slipping – and so is born what we call traction control.

What is traction control?

Traction control is an active safety feature designed to allow vehicles to make the most of available traction on the road surface by limiting or preventing the drive wheels from slipping. Systems can often be turned on and off via a button marked TC, TCL, or with an icon depicting the back of a car above two S-shaped skid marks toward the back.

How does traction control work?

The system must detect or deduce both the instantaneous speed of each drive wheel and the overall net speed of the vehicle. These data are then compared and when a wheel turns faster than the speed of the vehicle warrants, the system intervenes to avoid this. Hall effect sensors generally detect the speed of the wheel (they use a stationary magnet near a rotating gear with regularly spaced teeth which change the magnetic field as they pass over the magnet). To detect the vehicle speed, the systems can monitor the speed of the non-driven wheels, rely on on-board accelerometers or even use data from the on-board satellite navigation system. To slow down a spinning wheel, traction control systems use modified ABS material. When the ABS temporarily bleeds some hydraulic brake pressure to allow a skid wheel to gain traction, with traction control, it must be able to add hydraulic pressure to brake a spinning tire. Often the power of the engine is also reduced by shutting off the accelerator, spark and / or fuel.

Why would you want to disable traction control?

In most driving conditions, it is safer to leave all safety systems on. However, in conditions where there is low friction material covering a higher friction surface – such as freshly fallen snow, windblown sand or perhaps a fine mudslide on a road – spinning tires a little to “dig” up – the surface of the friction road can be the difference between standing almost stationary with a flashing traction control light and feeding through or up and on a slippery situation.

Is it safe to drive without traction control?

In the slippery road conditions above, at low speed when you have difficulty advancing your vehicle, it is safe to deactivate the traction control. But at higher speeds, it’s generally safer to leave the system engaged, in case you find yourself accelerating in a turn and encountering an unexpected low friction surface like black ice. In such a situation, traction control may well prevent an accidental slip from oversteer which could lead to an accident.

What causes a traction control light to come on?

Because traction control is a safety system, its functionality is constantly monitored by the on-board diagnostic electronics. This light comes on every time the system is turned off, either because the driver has turned it off (in this case, pressing the button again will reactivate the system and turn off the light), or because the system has encountered any failure. A common cause of these faults is the failure of an individual wheel speed sensor, often due to a crush that ejected the sensor or due to excessive corrosion. The traction control light also often flashes when the system has detected wheel slip and is trying to regain traction. It goes out when traction control intervention is no longer necessary.

Can you drive with the traction control light on?

A failed traction control system may not weaken a vehicle, but if the light remains on after pressing the power button, have the system repaired as soon as possible and drive with extreme caution in emergency situations. low traction such as wet, snowy, or icy roads. Note that if the light is on a lot because it works continuously, such as when climbing a long, steep hill over gravel or dirt, be aware that the vehicle is probably working hard against the brakes, which can cause excessive braking. wear and in extreme conditions, discoloration and failure of the brakes. So take a break from time to time in such conditions.

Does traction control use more gas?

Traction control should have no impact on fuel economy, except perhaps in the example above, where prolonged traction control intervention is required to climb a long, slippery hill.

Start control

Launch control is a riff geared towards traction control enthusiasts, who seek to carefully measure torque to precisely match the traction of the road surface; to keep tires in rotation with an optimal slip of 5 to 20 percent, at which their dynamic friction is maximized. Many performance cars offer a launch control system, some with a marked button, although many require a sequence of other button presses to invoke this ability.

How did the system get to stability control?

Just as the ABS hardware and electronics have been slightly modified to provide traction control, the traction control has also been modified to provide electronic stability control (ESC). These systems are also known as Active Yaw Control (AYC), Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC ), electronic stabilization program (ESP), active stability control (ASC), vehicle stability assistance (VSA), etc. The key modification required to complete this jump, in addition to increasing computing power, was a way to measure yaw, or the speed at which the vehicle pivots around its vertical center line. Early systems attempted to infer yaw by comparing the differences in wheel speed during a turn, but this estimate turned out to be an approximation, and soon real silicon sensors became available at an affordable price for directly measure the lace.

ESC systems help to ensure that a vehicle goes in the direction where its steering wheel is pointed under unfavorable conditions, unlike ABS and TC. He also uses the brakes, this time to try to prevent a vehicle from turning or sliding sideways. All stability control systems offer traction control, but the reverse is not necessarily true. Perhaps for this reason, traction control never became mandatory equipment, but stability control has proven to be such a valuable safety system that governments have legislated its mandatory use in Canada, the United States United States and the European Union from 2011, 2012 and 2014, respectively.

Autonomous driving systems can be seen as the next step in the evolution of ABS-TC-ESC systems, but this time the amount of software, sensors and hardware to add is several orders of magnitude greater at each step previous scalable required.

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