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Traction Control

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 22 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Traction Control

Traction Control helps you to accelerate, brake and steer properly, which obviously makes driving much easier and safer than it would normally be. It is particularly useful when driving on slippery surfaces, as it can maintain enough grip to help your vehicle stay on the road when increasing your speed in these types of conditions. Read on for the lowdown on traction control

What is Traction Control?

Traction refers to your tyres' grip on the road - the more traction you have, the more grip you have. You need to have this traction to be able to accelerate, brake and steer effectively. If your vehicle does not have enough traction, it will be harder for you to do these things well, even with the right driving skills. However, if your vehicle has Traction Control (TC), this will stop your tyres from losing grip, which makes accelerating, braking and steering smoother, regardless of the conditions that you are driving in.

How does Traction Control work?

Traction Control systems use wheel-speed sensors to gauge the speed at which the wheels are spinning. If one wheel is spinning more quickly than the others, it would be easy for you to lose control of your vehicle. As soon as the sensors pick up a difference in speed, the Traction Control system encourages the brake to lessen the speed of that wheel so that it slows down in line with the speed of the other wheels. This limits the chances of skidding or sliding off the road. Some Traction Control systems also reduce the engine power to the wheel in question to limit the chances of a skid or spin even further.

You may find that your clutch throbs slightly if the Traction Control system limits engine power to one of the wheels. This is perfectly normal. You may also find that your brake pedal throbs when the ABS kicks in. Again, this is nothing to worry about - it is merely a sign that your electronic aids are working as they should be!

Bad weather

Although Traction Control does help your vehicle to grip the road better in bad weather, it will not help you to stay on the road when it is snowing heavily, as the system does not increase the amount of grip that your tyres have - it simply prevents them losing the grip that they do have. However, if you frequently have to drive in snowy conditions, make sure that your vehicle has Traction Control, ABS and tyres that are specifically designed for driving in the snow, as these will all make your journey safer.

Have all cars got Traction Control?

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is one of the most common forms of Traction Control, and can be found on most cars. If you have to brake hard, this system stops your wheels from locking, which would usually result in a skid or spin and would affect your vehicle handling skills.

If you are not sure whether your vehicle has Traction Control, have a look at your instruction manual.

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