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Stability Control, are you ready for it?

starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
edited March 2014 in General
The last time I tried this discussion it got 13 comments and died. It's in the news a lot more now and with studies to back it up: _ot/stable_vehicles_1
Having it on a car I drive for the past 3 years has made me a believer but then again that was a main reason I got the car in the first place. Why is it taking so long to catch on? There were never studies to show that ABS really saved lives and it's on everything today.


  • reddogsreddogs Member Posts: 353
    M1 Abram Tanks (talk about stable) it could save up to 100,000 lives per year, it just way too much overkill and way too expensive..... We want more affordable cars with less things that go bump in the night and fall off or break........:0(
  • sls002sls002 Member Posts: 2,788
    I have it. It has activated a few times, on icy streets, mostly because I wanted to see if I could activate it. Now, it may have been active at other times but I didn't notice.
  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 49,197
    just because you activated it doesn't mean that you were going to lose control. IOW, who knows how often you really need it, as opposed to being able to control your car without it.

    One problem I have with it is too many manufacturers (Toyota comes to mind) make it too obtrusive, to the extent it becomes a hinderance, especially with anything passing for "sporty" driving. I believe BMW does a better job keeping it to more of a "last resort" option than a front line defense.

    Might be a CYA issue, given the litigous nature of our society. If you are going to advertise the wonders of stability control, imagine the lawsuit if someone swerves and loses control anyway because it didn't activate? Or maybe some people have so little control over their car that they need an electronic nanny!

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD, 2023 Maverick hybrid Lariat luxury package.

  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,172
    Indeed it operates transparently on my 528i, you get a light when the traction control is engaged but otherwise you are unaware when the DSC is engaged. One of these days I'll fool around on
    an empty, snowy parking lot and find out what it really does.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    Another link to the actual IIHS site and release:

    As to turning it on, I have heard from others that Toyota makes it obtrusive. On a Corvette post 2001 it can be a real help, I'm not talking about on the street. Actually it is hard to turn on in normal driving on dry pavement. I think many will react that it's too much electronics help and people should learn to drive. Only problem is that most people think they are above average drivers, sort of oxymoron. The people beyond the upper end that have it now that are going to get it soon are SUVs due to top heavy handling. The ones that could use it most are inexperienced drivers in cleap short wheelbase cars that do something that makes them panic.
       It really is too bad when mistakes become fatal.
  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    While it's not quite the same, it is eletronic sensing and correction of problem conditions, albeit to a lesser Mustang has traction control. In almost 3 years with it, though, I'm still undecided as to how I feel about it.

    There's no doubt in really bad weather it improves driveability, and in a high-torque rwd car with a light rear end, that means a lot.

    But there have been numerous instances when it activates when not really needed...the problem is when it does, the car bogs like crazy and loses lots of power for what seems a long time. This can be quite scary when trying to merge onto a busy road and the TCS "overactivates".

    I guess I'm lucky though, as I have a "trac off" switch that will deactivate it. But maybe it all comes down to the fact that the technology is new, and when it improves, it'll get better at seperating real problems from the "fake" ones. Or maybe the stuff Ford uses isn't quite the best out there (imagine that)... ;-)
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Member Posts: 1,982
    I'll second or third the opinion that Toyota's is intrusive. Overly so.

    Unless I'm in inclement weather, the systems are de-selected in my car. In the soup, the defaults get restored!
  • tpat3tpat3 Member Posts: 119
    It's interesting that the thread topic, stability control, was confused with traction control by several posters.

    Maybe that's comment enough about its perceived value.

    I actually have it on my low-end, short-wheel base Scion xB. I don't think it's overly intrusive since it has only activated once when I was really pushing a corner to make it come on. I have no experience with stability control on other Toyota products, so can't say whether it's nannyish.

    Since the car is cheap to begin with and comes standard with traction and stability control, I've never really thought about its relative value. Think I'd pass if it were an expensive option, but am glad to have it because it doesn't seem I paid much for it so why not.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    as stability control. But I think the Mustang driver was trying to make a point about electronic systems and not confusing the two. I think.
       Traction Control is what keeps most kids today from exhibition and speed tickets that my generation just expected when you did a burn out. Smokey is better. Stability control is based on a gyroscope that measures yaw, or rotation around a pole going through the center of the roof into the ground, think rear end trying to overtake front end, all wheels on the ground. Pilots know yaw, the rest of us have to think about it. Each ABS system that has a yaw sensor takes the input and does whatever the engineers then tell the brake and throttle system (in some cases) to do at that point. Oversteer gets different treatment than understeer, but both try to straighten out the vehicle so it doesn't continue to yaw, or spin out. Today it's only on less than 10% of new cars in the US while it's on over 35% in Europe. Consumer demand, just as noted above, if it's standard they get it but if they have to decide to pay for it and the salesman only knows "it's some safety thing" they don't pay extra. Take my word for it the real extra cost is very little, the option on the other hand may be priced fairly high, if the maker thinks they can get it.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142 www/story/10-26-2004/0002310988&EDATE=

    Note that Ford for the Explorer and other SUVs is going standard for 2005 and it is a next step product that also improves roll control in addition to yaw. Basic issue is to keep the driver in control, even if the unexpected happens.
  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    It seems to be vindicating itself. From, after an NHTSA test of 48,000 crashes from '97 to '02:

    "-For ESC-equipped passenger cars, the reduction in single vehicle crashes was 35 percent vs. non-equipped cars.

    -For ESC-equipped SUVs, the reduction was an incredible 67 percent."
  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    Yep, that was indeed my point...I know the difference between the two, but it seems they share a common reliance on technology to sense and "correct" problems in the incipient stage.

    Which is sorta tough, as it has to make assumptions about what is happening and what will happen in the very near future. My thought was that this may be an issue of technology needing to catch up with expectations (esp. those of the people here, who tend to be "enthusiasts" more so than the average driver)

    I've never driven a DSC car myself, so maybe since the systems right now only a higher-end option, they're of higher quality than the common TCS.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    Interesting, since I have driven ESC cars but not anything with a base traction control system I can't compare either. What my current ride replaced was so old it didn't come with TC.
      The active handling system (ESC) in the Corvette is so good that it will save some major mess ups at track speeds, say close to 100mph, which it has done once for me, personally very thankful. The all too common overcooked entry or heavy throttle exit are hardly noticable and something that you can learn to drive around, ie., drive smoother so it doesn't happen at all. If the system comes on you aren't driving all that well.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    If you need it, buy it. But I don't think it should be forced on people who already have excellent driving skills or who enjoy the "purest" driving experience possible. Every new device chips away at the intimate relationship between man and machine.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    Shifty, just what percentage of the drivers out there do you feel fit the above? Just a guess but less than 10% wouldn't surprise me. When on the road I have confidence that the vast majority know how to steer in a straight line and make most corners. In any unexpected event, and for distracted drivers even some events that should be expected, that other 90% are going to blow it. The good news is that the unexpected is rare. Taking the intimate relationship away from somebody who views it as 4 wheels, brakes and engine isn't too much of a travesty, IMO.
       Besides, what machines allow an intimate experience, probably less than 10% of what's on the road. Granted it's probably greater today than ever, my '60 Falcon for sure wasn't one in the past, the '72 MGB was pretty good for its day but still pretty crude, the '80s econoboxes sure don't fit the bill and 90's SUVs/LTVs hardly fit the bill either. Just who is getting this 'intimate relationship' anyway?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I think the question is "just who is getting the intimate relationship of driving taken away from them" and the answer is just about everybody.

    Of course, a good counter-argument is that not everybody wants that. Many don't even like driving. They would lunge at the chance to own a robot car, which is where the Prius is heading. Interesting, efficient, safe and totally dreary to drive.

    Sure, I don't want to commute in a biplane, but for the "pure" act of flying, even the hottest jet pilots agree that there is nothing quite like them.

    I'm not sure why things like "engine noise" and being "tail happy" and manual steering have become nasty horrible things in the driving experience, things that engineers must attack and eliminate. To me, they are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    On a note related to what Shifty's saying, I've wondered recently if the "sport driving" world isn't bifurcating itself into the "performance" camp and the "purist" camp.

    The performance camp is after total performance in terms of absolute numbers (i.e. most HP, best 1/4 mile ETs, quickest laps around the Glen, etc.), whereas the "purist" camp is after what Shifty once termed the "immediacy" of the driving experience...more subjective measurements like how it feels, driver input, connection with the machine and so on.

    Things like stability control, AWD, SMG transmissions appeal to the performance guys, while things like open-toppped cars, manuals with clutches and no power steering are prized by the purists.

    Not saying one is better than the other, but rather that technology seems to be more and more rapidly accelerating this split... <shrug>
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    Including my Vette I see lots of 6sp cars trying to improve their lap times or just drive smoother and I'm guessing you put them in the performance camp. Everything from Miata's to litterly $M vintage values going around the track and I'm guessing most would consider themselves purists even with a couple electronic aids to save the paint from the concrete. Not sure you can generalize except in that some with performance cars want to tap that capability once in awhile. I'm surprised how few it is, as when my track habit comes up most people, many with performance cars, really don't understand why any sane person would try it. Then again as Billy Joel says, I may be crazy!
  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    I didn't mean to insinuate that purists don't value fact they do very much.

    But they're willing to live with (and even prefer) less than optimal technology in pursuit of it. To the purist crowd, driving an old, tail-happy 911 with no traction or stability control is preferred to more modern vehicles with all sorts of electronic helpers and things like AWD. As Shifty has opined, they like the connection to the car and the large role that driver ability plays.

    When I'm at the track, I know that I'm at a competitve disadvantage compared to most of the cars out there - I spend lots of time waving guys like you with real sports cars around me... : ) But I love the challenge of trying to keep up with the pack, and take pride in wringing out every little bit of performance from my Mustang. Trading her in for a WRX would improve my times immensely, but I love that challenge of driving on such an antiquated platform.

    So it's not to say that purists don't like's just that it's not the main and only thing they value.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I could care less about 0-60 times for instance. I wouldn't even look it up on a car I was buying. I either like the way the car drives and sounds and smells and feels or I don't. I don't care how fast I am relative to the next person.

    Of course, if I were on the track and out to WIN, I would think otherwise, but my track time is strictly me having fun.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    Never had performance to practice with so knew when I got it I needed training. Nice thing about getting the kid out of college, all of a sudden I could afford it. And, I got the Vette because it had a particular stability control system and wanted to see how it worked. Track time and learning to drive came after all that, now it's just for fun and going faster is not about adding HP, its about getting the most out of the package I have, tweaked a little of course but not at the engine. Being new the stability control has kept me out of walls, tires and the way of other drivers. Driving open wheel cars without the system lets me know where I come up short and need lots of practice. On the street I'll take the electronic aid, some models have made it unobtrusive.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I could see an experienced driver using Stability Control now and then in treacherous conditions but if you are a newbie all it will do is keep you dumbed-down to what driving is all about. You'll start a bad driver as a newbie and stay that way because you won't get any experience. As they say "If you protect the ignorant, you will raise a nation of fools".

    I could very well see the SC crapping out one day and people start crashing into walls---they'd be helpless without it, like throwing a person who never drove a stick shift into a heavy truck or taking away someone's life preserver. They'd sink like a stone, right?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 223,630
    I think we are already to that point.. When 95% of people don't know if they have front or rear wheel drive, do you really think they have any idea how to steer out of a skid?

    Also, most of them never get into trouble anyway, because they never push their car.. because they don't really enjoy driving.. Every time I ride with my wife and we go into a curve, I'm screaming, "Take your foot off the d--- brake and steer the car!!"

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    You said the right word "steering". We are evolving from "driving" cars to "steering" them.
  • 210delray210delray Member Posts: 4,721
    I'm serious. I've seen it advocated both ways for a front-wheel drive car: when the back end slides out, do you keep the power on, or do you lift off? And why?

    From personal experience on snow or ice at low to moderate speeds, it doesn't seem to make much difference either way, as long as the necessary corrections are made with the steering wheel.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 223,630
    Like most skids, once you are in the middle of it, you are better off with all hands and no feet.... That means no brake or throttle..

    It takes a very skilled driver to use the throttle to get out of a skid.. In snow, with a FWD, you may be able to do yourself some good with the throttle, if you are very familiar with how your car reacts.. But, of course, if you were really in tune with it, you probably wouldn't be in the skid to begin with.


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  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142,241&sid=241&a- mp;article=7699

    Overview of some background data in the NHTSA study

    More detail on vehicles that had stability control in the studies.

    I'll leave the skid tutorials to those who get into them on snow and ice. I haven't done it in years. OTOH, if you want to talk slip angles for getting the front end turned where you want to come out of the turn, I got a good lesson in Formula Mazdas. :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    One thing you have to do is keep your eyes WAY out in front. Don't get tunnel vision or you will over-correct every time.
  • shiphroshiphro Member Posts: 62
    I don't have any certifications... but I spent a large part of my youth driving sideways. :)

    Steering out of skid in snow is easy, but you should give a more information. Which tires are skidding and what caused it?

    Oversteering? Just give it a little power and the back end falls in line like a weathervane in a breeze.

    Understeering? Let off the gas in automatic, 'neutral' throttle in a stick, and wait for the tires to catch. If you've got ABS... use 'em because understeer is caused by too much speed.

    Sliding? Depends on a lot of conditions. A full on skid is also caused by too much speed so generally I'd get on the brakes and try to get the car rolling (not sliding) before attempting any other corrections.

    The great thing about losing control in the snow is that you've got a ton of time (relatively) to decide what to do. You can start a 4-wheel drift at 5mph in a local parking lot and try a few different things to see what works best for you and your car.

    I'm excited to see what Traction & Stability control combined w/ AWD do in the snow in my new car... just gotta get some different wheels on it. :)
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 223,630
    "I'm excited to see what Traction & Stability control combined w/ AWD do in the snow in my new car... just gotta get some different wheels on it. :)"

    I wouldn't get too excited... It is usually very unexciting.. Great for getting through the snow, but not like the sliding around of your youth.. The car just goes where you point it, and if you give it too much throttle, it basically shuts down the power..

    If you want to have fun, turn off the traction/stability control.. ;-)

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Skidding is ultimately a tire problem...if all four tires have lost adhesion, even 12 wheel drive isn't going to help you. SC might help you if the conditions CHANGE but SC isn't magically going to make your tires stickier on ice or gravel.

    But you knew that):

    On a severely oversteering FWD car, you have to have some guts to romp the gas pedal but if you're headed for a wall you might as well try to get away with it (if you have enough room and you don't WAG).

    One reason I don't like FWD cars too much is that you can't trail-brake very well (if at all).
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    I expect from some films I've seen of MB in Germany on ice lakes that with the system on unless you get going way too fast in a straight line that it should be hard to tell you are on snow. Like noted it will just drive where you steer it. A friend of the boss tried to slide a Caddy a few years back on a dirt/gravel road and simply couldn't do it at the speeds they were willing to try it.
       Now there was a time in Colorado Springs where the intro for new visitors to the plant was to take a back street over this hill, clear road, and angle left into a large parking lot almost taking some air off the entry and then slight down hill on a snow covered parking lot into donuts to the flat at the bottom. Just to let them know that driving on snow was 'different'!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Hmmm...sell them 400 HP to kill themselves and then sell them SC to keep them from doing it---that is VERY clever!

    The columnist presumes that ABS "saves lives" but this has never been examined scientifically. No one really knows if it ever saved one life I don't think. How could you measure such a claim?
  • 210delray210delray Member Posts: 4,721
    It has been done scientifically, but the results have been mixed. I think lately, there is a slight benefit, overall, for cars with ABS, despite their impressive performance on the test track.

    The first studies showed no net benefit - multi-vehicle fatal crashes (in which the ABS-equipped vehicle was at fault) were reduced slightly, but single-vehicle fatal crashes involving ABS-equipped cars increased somewhat.

    It makes sense to me, because I think that instead of skidding helplessly into the stopped or slowing car in front of you, having steering control with ABS allows you to steer too wildly and go off the road into a collision with a fixed object.

    The way the studies were conducted was comparing cars without ABS against the same models that got them as standard equipment the following model year - like the '91 Cavalier (no ABS) with the '92 Cavalier (standard ABS), and then looking at death rates per registered vehicle.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
    ... if they ever come out with a car that they claim to be "100% safe". It's bad enough when some people think that they're invulnerable out there. Can you imagine how some folks would drive if they "knew" that nothing bad could happen to them behind the wheel???

    I didn't want to start off the week by having a nightmare!!

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  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    Does ABS work while skidding sideways?
  • 210delray210delray Member Posts: 4,721
    No, ABS doesn't work while skidding sideways, unless you press hard enough on the brake pedal to activate it. Not that it's going to help you in that situation.

    For sideways skidding, only stability control will assist you (or very skillful driving).
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    About the columnist presuming that ABS saves lives, I think you might be overstating that. To tell the truth, among those who work with stability control this is a very hot topic. Most feel that they don't, just as you suggest. However, here is what he said:

    "It took many years to require seat belts, high center-mounted brake lights, and airbags."

        I take it that this means he feels these save lives. Then he mentions:

    "... electronic-stability control, a device akin to anti-lock brakes, which can sense when a driver's steering is going to cause the car to go out of control and use braking and speed sensors to automatically maintain control."

        I would agree that 'akin' might mean many different things but I only got that stabiity control uses ABS to function, not that it saves lives with the presumption that ABS did in the past.

        When I read the article I was impressed that he didn't make the claim that ABS was one of the great safety advances but now with stability control it just might get deserved recognition.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Okay fair enough and a good argument that my case was overstated!

    So let's say he inferred that ABS was a life saver but didn't say it and may not in fact believe it. We don't know.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    Thank you! And I agree that ABS is a solution to a problem that was never really the fatality rate. It does good things for steerablity in panic stops if, as you noted earlier, that someone looks far enough ahead to know where would be the best place to end up. All too often it seems that they stare at the problem, i.e., the tree and sure enough that's where they steer.

    OTOH it seems the recent studies, which by the way just duplicate stuff that was available in the EU a year or so ago, do show the ability to reduce fatalities and one enabling factor is provided by separate channel ABS.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I know this guy who just bought a CL65...this is an awesome, mega-horsepower (I think a twin turbo V12) car that puts some ridiculous amount of power onto the street.

    But the poor guy can't burn an inch of rubber. He can't fishtail or drift either. That to me is really pathetic. I can have ten times the fun he can for a mere fraction of the cost.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 56,531
    I think there's a code you can enter into new MB to temporarily disengage the controls, for dyno testing or something.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Mebbe, but he doesn't know it. I'll tell him next time I see him.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    In the C5 Vette it is a three level set of controls, On, Competition Mode, meaning the Traction Control is off but Active Handling on, and then totally off. But then again people expect to see a Vette on the track, I don't know about a CL65, great $ machine but why try to slide it? Seems most who can afford it probably did that a lot earlier in life, if they were even interested and then grew up, sad, I know!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    How could you buy a car with over 500HP and not want to slide it or burn it up a little? Whatever is the point of buying a tiger and then anesthetizing it completely?

    If it's

    A) The car is uncontrollable with that much power, then shame on Mercedes

    B) I bought it strictly for status and don't know how to drive, then shame on me--get a Lexus!
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 56,531
    I think reason (B) exists for most super high performance cars. I know in my area anyway, certainly more than 9 times out of 10 I see a Ferrari or a souped up MB etc, it's tootling down a city street in a posing area, not even being taken out on the highway. Maybe the automakers know this, and they are building in protection for the onlookers, should the car get away from its owner.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well I could believe a Mercedes, but I think it is would be a misperception to say that "most" Ferraris are driven by poseurs....this will happen occasionally, for sure, but I would bet that proportionately speaking, no other ultra high performance car made today sees more track time than new Ferraris.

    You have to love to drive to own a Ferrari, or you will soon tire of it and sell it.
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