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Stability Control, are you ready for it?

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  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    ESC is good, those that don't want to admit it now will down
    the road. Problem is that like ABS people don't know how it
    is different from what they are used to. 'Everyone' knows
    to steer into a spin, problem is that when done in most
    cases it results in too late a reaction and the spin goes
    in the opposite direction and is never recovered. That is
    the part nobody mentions.
    With ESC you don't want to over correct as most would do,
    you want to just steer where the best 'exit' is located and
    the car will get you there. It is different and there are
    lots of forums on the web with all the post mortems's about
    learning ESC that resulted in an accident. Just like ABS,
    don't pump, hold firm, the common wisdom about ESC will be
    developed over time and some will complain that it didn't
    work like 'I was used to' along the way.
    Randy
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    Shifty, you should take an ABS car to the track some time,
    a must to bed in the brake pads in advance and down freeway
    off ramps is a perfect place to test ABS ...
    Randy
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    "The actual cost is around 100.00 for a car with ABS "

    Problem with cost is that as with all other things, 'it
    depends'! The main sensor, a gyro, cost the auto companies
    something north of $50 several years ago and in some cases
    just shy of $100. But that has gone down with volume into
    the below $50 range, I think. Then you add the software
    to read the sensor, and send inputs to the ABS along with
    some systems that have 2 gyros, and or several accelerometers
    and I'm betting the better systems cost north of your $100.

    Then again, the development costs are now getting spread
    across close to 15 millon units worldwide which will grow to
    over 30 million in a few years. Not a major per unit cost
    driver. If it's not down to under $100 now it will be soon.
    Randy
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    There's a difference between passive and active safety controls. SC is not like a seatbelt or airbag. The reason I've never spun out on public roads is due to my diligence, not the crappy cars I drove for so long. I've skidded and slid but never lost control, neither in cars or on motorcycles. Think of it like Alaskas bush pilots. The best ones never crash. Only the hot dogs do.

    Besides, the argument is moot---as long as I don't have to pay extra for it, SC is fine with me---as long as I can turn it off. I won't buy a car with intrusive, overly-sensitive mandatory SC that you can't disengage. No way, never, ever.

    I'm happy with ABS because I am never aware of it. Someday I may need it--fine, I'm glad it's there. Hopefully not on gravel however.

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  • punkr77punkr77 Posts: 183
    I haven't owned a car with ESC, but it's high on my want list for my next vehicle. I do have traction control on my Mustang and have experimented around with it by going over the same gravelly area and goosing the throttle with it turned on and off. Turned on, a little fishtale and off I went. Turned off, I spun 90 degrees to the left. Was kinda creepy even expecting it.

    I think the problem many have with ESC and other "electronic aids" is that no training comes with them. During an actual emergency is NOT the time to learn how they work/react. And most people never induce them to do their thing beforehand to get a feel for them. How many owners actually take their cars to a deserted large parking lot during a storm to see how their car reacts pasts its limits?

    Another problem is that every safety device seems to push people to riskier behavior because they add a little more feeling of invincibility. For example, people with 4WD are more likely to go out in the ice and drive faster on it because they think their 4WD will keep them safe. From my 500,000 miles driving as a truck driver, I always knew when to pull off the road during winter weather: whenever I saw pickups and SUV's in the ditch. When I started seeing cars in the ditch, I knew I should have shut down a few exits back.

    Oh, and unless you're doing it on purpose, any skid or slide is a loss of control.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    Up until last year I avoided my wife's car in the winter. She has ABS as does the car we bought for her mother. Like you I have resisted paying for something I never felt I needed and ABS was one of those somethings. However we have down sized this year and I was forced into driving the Focus this winter. The method for getting down the rather steep hill leading to one of our major roads out of town has always been simple. Slow down to a crawl in first and use the parking break to keep the car going slow till I got to the bottom of the hill. That turned out not to be the best method with the ABS car. The first time I got up to much speed I mashed on the break intending to pump and adjust like I did with a non abs car and got the dickens scared out of me as I heard a growl and a pulsing from my break pedal. The car went straight more or less but the sound and feel were totally alien to me. Two weeks later I had my mechanic look at the breaks to see if they needed replacing. They did but that wasn't the cause of the pulsating and noise. That was normal ABS I was told. You don't pump and you are supposed to drive the car while you try and stop. Once ABS is engaged no amount of extra pedal mashing will decrease the stopping distance, you simply trust the computer. I also discovered that when you replace the rear break drums most often you need to replace the ABS sensor ring and if that is necessary it is $70.00 a wheel. I now at least know how it is supposed to work it is just hard for me to put all of my faith in the system. If our car would have been an automatic it could have been equipped with Skid Control as well. That option didn't come with the manual so while all the other bells and whistles came on the car I passed on that. I wonder if mandated skid control will effect other cars in manual form as it did in the 2001-2002 Focus?
  • corvettecorvette United StatesPosts: 4,219
    Ford no longer offers AdvanceTrac on the Focus in the US because few people bought it. Also, their recently introduced cars like the Fusion, Mustang, and F-150 don't have it. There is no technical limitation that prevents anyone from offering stability control with a manual transmission--many cars currently do offer it, and I doubt if they will stop selling models with a manual just because of the ESC requirement.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    The 2007 MINI I'm thinking of buying has SC with 6 speed manual...but they charge you $500 for it unless you buy the Sport Package for $1,400.

    I suppose coupling SC to the Sport Package makes sense although if you spin out a MINI I'd have to say that's quite an accomplishment. Maybe a celebrity will do it on TV, like with the Enzo :cry:

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  • eliaselias Posts: 1,941
    stability-control is a must-have feature for any vehicle my wife or kids will be driving. i prefer it too.
    with our 2001 volvo V70, it only engaged once during the lifetime of the car. it saved us from sliding sideways/off-the-road/into-a-tree, at about 20 mph. that one incident made it worth the $1000 "DSC" option price on 2001 V70.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    I don't wish to be annoying (no REALLY I don't :P ) but how could you know if in fact your own skill would have also prevented you from hitting the tree? I mean, you can't give SC credit automatically, except for cutting down your anxiety level.

    With an air bag that has deployed you can give it credit for preventing injury since we can presume the bag was softer than your steering wheel.

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  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 31,103
    You are correct.. you can't really know if it's saved you, or not..

    But.. we can assume that the SC is better at pulling you out of a skid than you are.. and that there are skids you might never be in, if you had it..

    Unless you know of a way to brake just one wheel at a time.. :blush:

    Unlike others... I don't mind being annoying.. ;)

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  • eliaselias Posts: 1,941
    i have no doubt the stability control prevented a collision/sliding-off-road in that case -
    due to slight curve in
    the road, a really big crown, and icy conditions.

    even the most expert driver does not have the ability to brake just ONE of the rear wheels in order to straighten out the car. (this is what the DSC did in that particular case.)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,967
    I wouldn't personally assume that at all. A skid is too complex and dynamic to assume SC has it all figured out.

    Keep in mind the dismal failure of AI all these years....don't discount the human brain.

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  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    one just assumes:
    1). programmers have all the scenarios figured out
    2). the prior driving experience of the person behind the wheel doesn't collide with what the program is doing
    3). the human doesn't fight the automation
    4). there isn't a sensor or actuator failure
    5). the existance of the SC hasn't given someone a poor sense of situational awareness re: conditions and capability
    ((insert cautionary point here))

    i'm with you shifty.

    TC and SC isn't going to find traction where none exists.

    if the person isn't aware of the poor conditions, he / she is likely to be placing the vehicle and occupants at risk.

    probably the best thing people could do is: get excellent winter tires, maintain their vehicle properly, take some defensive driving courses and become a better driver, slow down, keep two hands on the wheel, avoid using the radio, cell phone, eating or drinking, etc.

    throwing automation / complexity at a problem caused by people driving in adverse conditions beyond thier capability and that of their vehicle may be a slippery slope with costs.

    it might "enable" people to become even poorer drivers, less aware, less mindful of vehicle and environmental conditions, etc.

    how many AWD SUVs do we see off the road in bad conditions vs. little cars? many people drive around with ABS problems, and the system defeated because of the cost prohibitive nature to repair?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 31,103
    SC can't overcome the laws of physics... but, one thing it can do is brake one wheel at a time.

    When one of you figures out how to do that, come back and tell me about it.. ;)

    It really doesn't matter about any one of you, anyway.. For the vast driving public, SC will be a great safety boon... Unlike ABS, it doesn't require the driver to act any differently than in a vehicle that isn't equipped that way..

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  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Agree, and there are robust studies out there that show that ESC really works -- saving lives and injuries, something that never really occurred for ABS, despite the latter's impressive performance on the test track.

    That's why the feds decided to mandate ESC. One study link here.

    I know that enthusiasts whine because it's an electronic "nanny" in their opinion, but the vast majority of the driving public won't even know it's there, just quietly going about its business.

    As for people taking defensive driving courses and becoming "better" drivers, it's just not going to happen. Why? Because everyone thinks they're already the best drivers out there -- it's all those other idiots that cause the crashes!

    Oh, and Shifty, I've also never spun out a car and lost control! I guess the closest I came was on an icy/snowy back road where my old rwd Volvo started to slide its rear end out, and I countersteered hard in the opposite direction, didn't catch the reverse skid in time, and ended up stopped almost sideways across the road! But I was only going 20-25 mph in the first place.
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    Playing devils advovate, studies show 40% fewer deaths with those people who drive with ESC. How do you explain that shifty?

    I've always had a problem with a study that compares something that hasn't happened(an accident)to one that has. As you stated earlier, how does one know their driving skills would have prevented the death in a vehicular accident as opposed to ESC?
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    which study exactly jipster?

    playing devil's devil advocate, how does one know that the accident involved the actuation of ESC? or is it people with cars with ESC vs. cars without ESC where the outcome was death?

    i mean, maybe the demographic re: vehicles with ESC and the people who drive them are statistically less likely to be in accidents period. does that speak to the technology as differentiator, the driver, the driving style, the likelyhood (or not) to speed, the likelyhood (or not) to drink and drive, .....
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    "I've always had a problem with a study that compares something that hasn't happened(an accident)to one that has. As you stated earlier, how does one know their driving skills would have prevented the death in a vehicular accident as opposed to ESC?"

    Well, the idea is to try to look at a large pool of drivers, isolate a single variable, and then look at accident/fatality rates. The studies I've seen attempt to compare the accident rates of vehicles that are otherwise identical (with the only variable being ESC).

    So, either we assume that ESC does have a real-world benefit, or we assume the really bad drivers have already killed themselves resulting in a lowering of accident statistics from year to year as the bad drivers are no longer in the pool.

    From my personal observation, I don't think there's any way that the bad drivers are driving themselves to extinction....so my conclusion would be that ESC does have real-world benefits.
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    well, the idea is to try to look at a large pool of drivers, isolate a single variable, and then look at accident/fatality rates. The studies I've seen attempt to compare the accident rates of vehicles that are otherwise identical (with the only variable being ESC).

    i would tend to think that would add to the validity of the study, but practically, what vehicles would be involved in that study? and yet, one might say, people purchasing ESC (when it was an option) are more likely to be safety focused. therefore, the factors wouldn't be completely independant would they?

    i'd like to read the details of these studies you reference.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    The studies would compare the same vehicles (separated by a model year or two) with standard stability control vs. those without. Option take rates wouldn't be a factor for most vehicles, because typically take rates were very low when ESC was an option.

    Here'sa study link (again).
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    which study exactly jipster?

    Consumer Reports threw out that number in an issue about a year ago... siteing "studies". I've read the 40% and higher number used in this and other discussions as well.

    I think there are just to many variables to throw out a wild number like 40%. I've raised the "demographics" question before in this discussion as well. Until recently ESC has been an option on more expensive cars. Or, it is a safety option, that people who's first priority is on safety, will choose. People who prioritize safety will certainly be in fewer accidents.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    You don't use vehicles where ESC was an option, or at least an option with a high percentage of takers.

    You look at vehicles with standard ESC and compare them with the same vehicles without (like the model year before).

    Again, see the IIHS link I gave earlier, or in the post below.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,935
    One CR blurb references this IIHS.org study.

    That study says that the risk of fatal multi-car crashes are reduced by 32% and fatal single car wrecks by 56%.

    The 40% number involves all single car wrecks, not just the fatal ones.

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  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    The sample size of those studies are such a small blip on the national radar screen though. It could be contributed to many different variables.

    Out of all accidents on our roads, what % would ESC come into play? Judging from what I've read a small %. What % of vehicles today have ESC...I'm gussing maybe 10%? Not enough info in my book to accurately guage real-world benefits. Though there are certainly some. I would like to see what these accident/fatality rates are in 5-10 years when most vehicles on the road are equipped with ESC.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 31,103
    I think the percentage is probably higher for fatal accidents..

    For instance, rollover accidents result in a high number of fatalities... ESC prevents these types of accidents by keeping the vehicle from leaving the roadway...

    Sure, fender-benders from inattention, or backing accidents in parking lots won't be helped by ESC.. and these are a large percentage of total accidents.. But, again.. these accidents are rarely fatal...

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  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    Study by IIHS, studies of ESC in Europe and Japan,
    as well as a study by the U.S. National Highway Traffic
    Safety Administration ALL have reported similar results.
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    i have problems with that report. there's not enough specificity to use the numbers in an objective and valid manner. about all i think you can safely say is they performed some analysis and SWAGged some numbers.

    at one point the article admits that police reports indicate ESC was less effective in lower-severity crashes. now i wonder EXACTLY how they came to that conclusion.

    what if for example there's a fatality crash and ESC wasn't even involved? what if it didn't even activate? how are they making this determination i'd like to know.

    to know how and to the extent it is a differentiator, one would think one needs to analyze data captured before, during and after the crash showing that it activated (or not)..
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    This is my last message on this topic.

    I think you are over-analyzing. The studies were done in the same way that side airbags, frontal airbags, and decades before that, seat belts (when used) were found to be effective. And in the same way that ABS was found to be ineffective.

    Now consider this: the BUSH administration is requiring ESC. There is no way in Hades that this pro-business, Republican administration would foist such a regulatory mandate on a struggling car industry (domestic, at least) if there was the least bit of doubt in the validity of the studies. Also, instead of their usual carping and whining, the auto industry is embracing this regulation.

    By contrast, look how long it took the industry to accept frontal airbags -- they kicked and screamed all the way, and it took a Supreme Court decision (and mandatory seat belt use laws without sufficient teeth) to finally pave the way for their widespread, and now universal, adoption.

    Over and out.
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    Well, from what I understand it costs less than $100 to install ESC, while frontal airbags are much more expensive. Bush gets to look like a humanitarian at very little cost to big business.
This discussion has been closed.