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Old 22nd July 2009, 16:35   #1
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Default Traction control explained

Dummies like me had heard terms like traction control, ABS etc but had very little idea what they meant. So here is a very interesting article I found on the web which explains traction control in very simple terms.Putting it up here for benefit of all.

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Some of the biggest advances in automotive technology in the past 10 years have come in the area of safety. Spurred by improvements in microprocessor speed, miniaturization, and software development, the automobile continues to evolve. In addition to telematics-based services like OnStar, digital satellite radio and in-car e-mail, recent advances in braking technology have led to shorter stopping distances and increased control while driving in inclement conditions.

Traction control is yet another safety development that has reached the automobile during this period. A popular feature on many vehicles, traction control offers drivers the benefit of space-age electronics that improve a car's contact with the road.

But what is traction control, and how does it work? We'll take a look at the inner workings of this cutting-edge technology and also discuss the ways it improves your driving experience and enhances safety.

When you first hear the term "traction control," you might think it has something to do with traction and control. "Duh," you're saying; "isn't that a little obvious?" Well, maybe, maybe not. The word traction refers, in general, to your car's ability to maintain adhesive friction between the vehicle (specifically, your tires) and the pavement. And yet there are different kinds of traction. For instance, there's one kind of traction when we brake, another when we accelerate, and still another when we turn. Which kind of traction are we referring to here?

Traction control deals specifically with lateral (front-to-back) loss of friction during acceleration. In other words, when your car accelerates from a dead stop, or speeds up while passing another vehicle, traction control works to ensure maximum contact between the road surface and your tires, even under less-than-ideal road conditions. For example, a wet or icy road surface will significantly reduce the friction (traction) between your tires and the pavement. And since your tires are the only part of your car that actually touches the ground, any resulting loss of friction can have serious consequences.

Traction control is part of a series of three braking technology developments that began appearing in vehicles in the mid-eighties. (Note: Many German vehicle manufacturers call traction control by its original German name: ASR traction control. ASR stands for "Acceleration Slip Regulation." It's the same technology we're talking about here, but with a fancier name that most Americans have never heard of.) In chronological order, these developments are: anti-lock brakes, aka ABS (1978), traction control (1985), and stability control (1995). All three technologies come from the laboratories of Robert Bosch Company in Germany, and all address the issue of improving contact (traction) between your car's tires and the road.

Traction control works at the opposite end of the scale from ABS — dealing with acceleration rather than deceleration. Still, since many of the same principles apply to both systems, it might be best to visualize it as sort of ABS in reverse. ABS works by sensing slippage at the wheels during braking, and continually adjusting braking pressure to ensure maximum contact between the tires and the road. You can actually hear the system working (a grinding sound) and feel it (the pedal pulsing).

As we mentioned above, ABS and traction control operate similarly. In fact, the ABS control unit is the basic "building block" for traction control and stability control. By adding modules and sensors, the system can be expanded to include these newer technologies.

In the case of traction control, the basic ABS system — as well as other components in the vehicle — requires some modification. To begin with, the old-style accelerator cable is typically replaced by an electronic drive-by-wire connection (although some older systems still use a mechanical accelerator cable), meaning the mechanical hook-up between the accelerator pedal and the throttle ceases to exist. Instead, a sensor converts the position of the accelerator pedal into an electrical signal, which the control unit (similar to the one used in ABS) uses to generate a control voltage. The standard ABS hydraulic modulator is also expanded to include a traction control component.

All these parts work together to activate the traction control system.

Let's say you're at a stoplight on wet pavement. The light turns green and you press too firmly on the accelerator pedal. There is slick asphalt under your tires and the wheels begin to spin. The traction control system instantaneously kicks in, sensing that the wheels have begun to slip. Within a fraction of a second, this data is fed back to the control unit, which adjusts throttle input and applies braking force to slow the wheels (some older systems also retarded engine spark). The wheels are thus prevented from spinning and the car maintains maximum traction.

It's really that simple. Again, think of it as ABS in reverse.

Source

Note from the Team-BHP Support Staff : Do make sure that you provide the references/original source for every piece of material that has been taken from another website/publication, to give credit to the original author.

Last edited by Technocrat : 22nd July 2009 at 16:45. Reason: Please read the note in post. Thanks
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Old 22nd July 2009, 22:22   #2
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good work bro!! Informative!
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Old 22nd July 2009, 22:44   #3
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Great info, thanks! So would I be right in presuming that all cars that have 'drive by wire' throttles also have traction control?
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Old 23rd July 2009, 00:08   #4
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DBW isn't necessary to implement traction control. So, no, you can't say that. Cars with cable throttles have traction control too. It's just that different manufacturers use different systems to reign in the engine for traction control.
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Old 23rd July 2009, 17:59   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
Great info, thanks! So would I be right in presuming that all cars that have 'drive by wire' throttles also have traction control?
vnabhi,

As Immortalz has said:
Cars with cable-operated throttles can have TCS as well.

And to specifically answer your questions:
Not all cars with Drive-by-wire have TCS.

cya
R
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Old 23rd July 2009, 21:42   #6
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TCS ?
I presume Throttle/Traction Control Something ??
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Old 23rd July 2009, 23:01   #7
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I dont find TCS of much use for the driving conditions in north india, i have TCS in my Elantra i have rarely seen the TCS light blink except when Accelerating in gravel or mud.The car does not have so much power that i would need TCS regularly.
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Old 23rd July 2009, 23:23   #8
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Quite a cool video demonstrating ABS and TC.



@anshuman like you said TC is not really useful in India given the relatively meager power outputs of most cars, but ESP could still be very useful for keeping the car in control at high speeds.

I am sure ESP would have helped in the innumerable cases of cars flying out of control at the hands of barely legal/underage drivers at unimaginable speeds.
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Old 23rd July 2009, 23:32   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d3mon View Post
I am sure ESP would have helped in the innumerable cases of cars flying out of control at the hands of barely legal/underage drivers at unimaginable speeds.
I Agree ESP is very good safety device especially in emergency manouvers or handing over cars to barely legal drivers.
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Old 23rd July 2009, 23:49   #10
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Wow.... Someone, please show this video to our automotive manufacturing policy makers, knock on their heads and ask them to make these safety features mandatory on our cars.
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Old 24th July 2009, 00:05   #11
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Great info mate!

But I like to do a wheelspin when the light turns green! (esp. during rains)
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Old 24th July 2009, 10:35   #12
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Which is why traction control and stability programs have off buttons - so you can have drama when you want to.
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Old 24th July 2009, 19:23   #13
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@d3mon--The video was very informative, thanks for posting.
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Old 25th July 2009, 03:41   #14
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@vnabhi no need to thank me. Sharing knowledge is what this forum is all about, right?

Hell, if someone got a penny for each time I should have thanked a Team-bhp user, I would be completely broke
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Old 25th July 2009, 05:40   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d3mon View Post
@vnabhi no need to thank me. Sharing knowledge is what this forum is all about, right?

Hell, if someone got a penny for each time I should have thanked a Team-bhp user, I would be completely broke
good job. many people consider themselves laymen till they land their eyes on posts like these. I had received an email with a simple video on how a differential works. I should put it up in youtube first to link it here. or .maybe it already exists in youtube. will post it later.untill then, keep up the good work mate.
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