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Toyota Prius - Traction Control vs Vehicle Stability Control

I am finalizing on the Prius and wanted to know whether one should invest the money for Vehicle Stability Control. As in 2007 Prius, it already comes standard with Traction Control.

Any thoughts/experience would be appreicated.


  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    Traction control helps you from spinning the wheels when you take off. VSC helps you maintain control if you start to slide while driving. Very good thing to have.

    Put another way, the TC is the system some owners wish the car didn't have, and VSC is the system some owners attribute to saving their lives.
  • missnicemissnice Posts: 1
    How does the Prius handle in the snow, ice and at higher elevations?
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    Prius needs snow tires. The Goodyear Integrities it comes with don't do well in snow or on ice. It's important to keep the front wheels from spinning, because that will trip the traction control, and it's reported that can keep you from moving in certain conditions.

    I haven't heard anyone complaining about high elevations. There are a few owners in Colorado reporting that they do fine. Except in 2 or more ft. of snow, but that's to be expected. ;) Prius has low ground clearance to minimize wind resistance, and that can mean "plowing snow" if there's enough. Others report going over mountain passes in the western US with no problems.
  • dtenerdtener Posts: 2
    My prius just quit as I attemtped to navigate the hill to my driveway with snow and ice. As I tried to maintain momentum it simply went to zero. Did I do something wrong or is this an issue with this transmission or traction control?
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    This is the issue I was alluding to. It seems to be "fixed" or lessened in the 2007. Some say if you keep pressure on the accelerator, it will try again. If not, you may have to shift to "P", then back to "D" and try again.

    Toyota had to set the traction control to very high sensitivity to protect MG2 (motor generator 2 - the one that moves the vehicle most of the time). If you spin the wheels on ice you could over-spin MG2 and destroy it, so TC protects it. Perhaps a little too aggressively. So far every posting of problems I've read has been on a low speed hill such as a driveway.

    So if you know you will experience snow or slippery conditions on hills, good snow and ice tires are a "really good idea" (tm). ;)

    If you're wondering why it over-spins MG2, it's due to the design of the HSD. The rotation speed of the ICE (internal combustion engine), MG2, and wheels depends on the speed of the other two devices. If the engine is off or idling and you spin up the wheels you also spin up MG2 (a lot). This is also why you can't have the engine off above 43 MPH - it will over-spin MG2. There is a good visual example of this on Priuschat you can mess with written in flash, I think.
  • Does anyone know where I can find a list of small sedans (2007 models) that have optional Vehicle Stability Control.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628
    This page shows ALL 2007 vehicles available with ESC in the U.S. There is at least one error on it, however--Elantra doesn't have ESC available at this time.
  • lalcottlalcott Posts: 2
    I'd love to hear more about Prius's performance on snow and ice.Often have to come home from work in snowstorms on a dirt road. I now drive a Subaru (with 4 snow tires in winter). It's a great car but not very fuel-efficient. Thanks for any comments.
  • stevegoldstevegold Posts: 185
    It's OK but: We live in Aspen, CO. and used to have two Subaru Outbacks.
    I do use snow tires on the Prius but not on the Outback.
    We always used the Outback when it's snowing or if we're going on a trip and snow was forecast.
    We just replaced the second and last Outback with a Hybrid Highlander and will hens forth use that whenever snow threatens. The rest of the time we use the Prius for short and long trips and the Highlander only around town if the Prius is already being used. (I think the Highlander was a mistake but we need a least one 4WD)
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,719
    "(I think the Highlander was a mistake but we need a least one 4WD)"

    I think the HH uses electric motors on the rear wheels, and that will not do for heavy useage (the motors overheat and simply stop working until they cool). However, for basic "occasional" AWD use it will drive those wheels.
  • dtenerdtener Posts: 2
    My 2006 Prius did fine until I tried a steep hill and the wheels would not spin because of the way the transmission and vehicle stability control limit the wheels from spinning but just driving on the highway in snow was fine. My only problem was on the steep hill in the snow.
  • lalcottlalcott Posts: 2
    Thanks for comments. My last 4 miles home are uphill with a few steep grades - anyone else who's driven a Prius up hills in snow, please pass on your experience.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,719
    "My 2006 Prius did fine until I tried a steep hill and the wheels would not spin because of the way the transmission and vehicle stability control limit the wheels from spinning but just driving on the highway in snow was fine. My only problem was on the steep hill in the snow."

    This has been reported as being fixed by a change to the CU software, allowing the wheels to spin a little bit.
  • Glad this topic is here as traction control is a big issue in my decision on the next car (I live in Portland OR and we are expected to have a lot of snow and ice this year).

    If a Prius is Parked with Both left side wheels on asphalt/concrete, both right side wheels on ice or snow or gravel, and then the Driver then decides to accelerate....

    What happens?

    1. Prius goes nowhere (wheel spins, traction control cuts power)
    2. prius spins wheels on right side and tries to move
    3. Prius simply moves forward without problem

    3 is how the new Subarus I drove handle the situation. Huge traction advantage in winter, but the Subies guzzle gas by comparison.

    Comments? Is braking also an issue under those conditions?
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    What happens depends on what traction is available. If you are going to rely on the tires that come with the Prius you will have problems. If you put -real- winter tires on the car it will go (I use Nokian WR tires). It may spin, wait, spin, wait, then go, if it's slippery enough. If you are on level ground there is really not much of a problem. Basically, it's pretty much like any other front wheel drive car. The only difference is the traction control is a bit more sensitive.

    With braking, it's no different than any other car. Even a Subaru will have trouble stopping on ice. It all depends on what tires you have on the car.

    In reading this topic (posts before yours) I see people are still confusing traction control, anti-lock braking, and VSC.

    Traction control will reduce or cut power to the wheels when you accelerate, if the wheels spin up. In the case of the Prius, it does this aggressively to prevent over spinning of one of the motor-generators (wheels can spin up faster than the engine can start up - if the engine is not running motor-generator #1 can be over spun if the wheels go faster than about 43 MPH or 66 kmph.) I have noticed this is less of a problem if the engine is running, so it looks like the computer allows for this condition.

    Anti-lock braking will vary braking power on each wheel if the wheel spin rate of that wheel is a certain percentage lower than the other wheels. Some are three channel (both rear wheels are considered one) and some are four channel (all four wheels are individually controlled). This system only works under braking. The Prius uses regenerative braking, as well as hydraulic braking. The regen braking is very effective in slippery conditions, as it is not as forceful as hydraulic braking. The big benefit with anti-lock braking is it allows you to steer around whatever you might be traveling toward, whereas if you just lock the brakes you cannot steer (car continues in the direction it was traveling until it stops or hits something).

    VSC, or vehicle stability control, also called dynamic stability control, and several other names, will use braking on individual wheels to correct a skid and may also reduce power, usually even before the driver realizes there is a problem. This is usually not under braking, but driving through a corner. It can also work while braking, in concert with anti-lock braking above.
  • My 2008 Prius slips even on flat roads in minor snow (less then half-inch). I assume I need to purchase snow tires (and new wheels). Are the Nokian WR tires suitable for the 2008 model? Is there research on the range of appropriate snow tires for the 2008 Prius? (not Touring edition) Many thanks -
    Silver Spring, MD
  • rcinmdrcinmd Posts: 139
    I have a 2007 Touring edition.

    I recently purchased a set of standard 15" Prius rims on eBay, and just had mounted four "performance" snow tires, not as aggressive as some out there in terms of deep snow capability, but better in terms of dry road handling and somewhat higher winter temps, the sort we have here in mid Maryland, other than the 2 and 3 foot snows we've had in the past.

    I purchased Hankook icebear W300s. Another tire that rated highly in the categories I was interested in, but not available at the retail level in this part of the country, was the Viking Snow Tech.

    Today's snow looks to be about 3 inches out here. I'll know when I leave work how it does on the standard Touring tires, unless the roads are cleared by then. Last February, just after buying the car, I did take it through the neighborhood on the unplowed street, about 3 inches, and had no trouble at all, on level ground.

    I know I will have to put up with the yellow TPM warning light while I have the snows mounted. And I also now understand that after I put the originals back on, I still might have to take it to a Toyota dealer to have the sensors re-registered.....I hope not.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    The Nokian WR works well on the 2007 and 2008 Prius. There are two available in the stock size - I got the higher speed/load rated one. If you get Nokian WRs you don't need to take them off for summer. They are true all-season tires but have the snowflake symbol on the sidewall so you don't need to "chain up" on interstates when that situation presents itself. This is why I got them. No need for extra wheels/changing wheels/tires as the seasons change.
    I got 185/65R15 88H. They are not cheap tires, so be prepared to pay around $100 each for them (best price I was able to fine on the internet).

    Just to complicate our lives, Nokian have come out with a new version WR, the WR G2. It looks even better on paper. It's lighter yet stronger (higher load/speed rating). It hasn't been out long enough to get peoples experience yet. A fellow over on Priuschat may purchase them to try them out. He was quoted $103 each from a local tire shop. Not a bad price.
  • We live in San Diego, CA and have a place in the mountains. Snow tires would not be practical. Any suggestions for chains or cables?
    I remember when we bought the car they had us sign something about using chains. Are the cables, like Super Z6 O.K. to use?
    The roads up there have signs that say chains are required, which I assume is in effect during snow and icy conditions.
    Celeste Kennedy
  • has the answer for low clearance Prius tires- a bit pricey and not for high speed or even a short stretch of bare pavement ... but on/off in about ten secs per tire with a little practice and once the hub-mounted assy is properly installed on the front(drive) wheels... must be removed for rotating tires is the only drawback I've found.
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