The How, When and Where of Traction Control Systems

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Traction control systems are designed to help control the amount a tire slips when accelerating on surfaces that are slippery. Past vehicles required a driver to lightly tap the gas pedal in order to prevent the wheels from spinning out of control when on slippery pavement. Most vehicles made today have implemented an electronic control that will limit the amount of power delivered from the driver, which eliminates wheel slippage and helps the driver to control acceleration.

How it Works


When driving a vehicle during slippery conditions, the traction control system can detect when one or more of the vehicle's tires are spinning at a faster rate than the others. When this is sensed by the system, it invokes the anti lock braking system to help apply friction from the brakes to the wheels that are spinning at a faster rate.

The traction control computer is often designed as part of another control unit, such as the braking system as it uses the brakes to help control the traction of the tires. There are vehicles that are designed with other coupling systems as well, such as all wheel drive cars.

Using Traction Control


Traction control systems have been used as a safety feature in many on road vehicles, especially high performing vehicles. The reason for this is that these cars typically need a sensitive throttle input in order to prevent spinning wheels. Currently, this type of system is available on most cars.

Race cars use this type of system in order to enhance their performance. The system allows race car drivers to have maximum control during high acceleration without experiencing any tire spins. When turning, the tires of a race car with traction control are kept at the optimal slip ratio.

Motorcycles first saw the use of traction control in 1992 on the Honda ST1100. By the year 2009, this option was available on many makes and models of motorcycles as an additional safety feature.

Off road vehicles use traction control to help maintain control of the vehicle during adverse road conditions that they are driven on.

Uses and Safety

Traction control systems increase the safety of a car by reducing the chances of spin outs during slippery conditions. The systems can help keep a car from sliding of the road and spinning out when driving in this type of situation.

Additionally, when cornering, the traction control system can help the driver perform this action more safely. This is because when turning a sharp corner a driver may apply to much throttle. When this happens the tires of the vehicle can lose traction and then begin sliding sideways. The reason for this is typically from an under steer in the front wheels and an over steer in the back wheels. The traction control system can stop this from happening as it reduces the amount of power given to the wheels. Traction control systems do not increase the grips of the tires and thus does not help in the event when a vehicle is stuck.

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