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Stability Control, are you ready for it?



  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    I can't comment about driving one, the only time I was offered a chance to sit in one, I litterly couldn't get in the drivers seat. 6'3" and under 200#'s is not huge.
    OTOH, passing one on the track is a great rush, especially when you close fast and they wave you by out of a turn.
       As to powerful cars just for status, I think in my area it is more common than not. AMG and M series are common and I hardly ever see them at the track. Especially the AMG cars.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Oh, sure, that status business happens all the time, but not as much with Ferrari or Porsche, as you well know from your track time. The reason I say this is that given how much they cost, and how close in performance far less expensive cars are in comparion (or even better) and how superior in comfort far less expensive cars can be, there can be no other explanation for buying a Ferrari or Porsche other than that you are a drivin' fool.

    I would hate to see *too much* intrusion of SC and TC on these wonderful cars, but I understand that as an option some people might like it.

    My fear is that you let the propeller heads into your car and some day soon they will make everything MANDATORY--that is, you can't switch it off or defeat it anymore. I'd hate that.
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    Not being able to turn it off in anything that has potential to be on the track would not be a good thing. Then again, I've seen a Sunbird, doing the day at Sears Point, driver wasn't too bad given what he was working with.

        Now here is something that shouldn't be a problem having stability control without an off switch:

    With more business info:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well I think SC is fine for cars that are hardly worth driving. You'll get no argument from me there.

    But in a sports car, I'd have to regard it as a device for the handicapped.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    You're a purist, Shifty, part of a dying breed...didn't you once get angry because they don't make sportscars with twin, fold-down windscreens anymore... ;-)

    I'm just kidding you though...the older I get the more I care about the immediacy of the driving experience vs. sheer high-performance through any means possible.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    No, I think THEY are a dying breed, because THEY like every gadget under the sun until....they get OLDER and don't want a new learning curve every week or paying some very inaccessible technical staff enormous sums to keep these gadgets since I"m already older and fully entrenched in my position and "they" have yet to come fully into the light of awareness about gadgets vs. actual driving, I feel my species shall always prevail in the end.

    It is not for nothing that gazillionaires spend buckets of money on old cars and drive them like the hammers of hell around race tracks.
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    OTOH, my monthly, if I'm lucky, trip to the track is unusual, which is in itself an understatement. What most are looking at is the trip to Safeway, in a few minutes, the drive to BART or similar in traffic or if really unlucky averageing 25mph for a portion of the morning commute where most have given up on manual shift in favor of auto. What's to revel in? We aren't talking about the weekend drive on a lightly twisting road in the '71 280SL with the top left at home. No need to push it to where SC might be needed.

        The problem with all those normal happenings, however, is that as long as nothing out of the ordinary happens, the need for any system like ESC is mute. Trouble is, the unusual does happen and even the best driver can't always miss it on their own, and most driver's don't fit that description. That's where SC for the masses just might leave you and yours unscathed, which sounds like a good thing.

        The purist might lament the demise of simple, and the father in law's Model A's are simple. But I'll take the Corvette for a long dirve, any day!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I'm tellin' yah, it's bad news for us. Once these gadgets get entrenched, you WON'T find them either optional or turn-off-able.

    On a much smaller scale, consumers didn't rebel against the ridiculous radio controls that audio engineers now torture us with, or the $1,000 service many very modest cars now require at 90,000 miles. We didn't speak up and now we're stuck.

    We get to vote with our wallets. I won't buy a car with SC that interferes when I don't wish it to.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    I dunno...I think that people are voting with their wallets, and they WANT electronic problem-correction equipment in their cars.

    As for the $1k service thing, I think most of the car-buying public prefers it that way...they'd rather not have to really pay attention to their car until then, then just write a big check and viola, all done. Most people believe whatever the dealership tells them re maintenance anyway.

    As far as radios go, I think its just that most people don't really care one way or the other. And those that do usally wouldn't be satisfied with factory-supplied systems anyway...

    I think you're right, Shifty, that we're getting more and more removed from the driving process...but I also think that for most of us, that's what we want.

    And it seems to me that it's getting harder and harder for car companies to economically justify limited production performance stripper models. Its really too bad, but it seems to be the trend unfortunately.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I guess I'll die a martyr then. You will build a statue, won't you?
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    I imagine you'll want to memorialized sitting in a MGA, right?

    But thinking about this recently, maybe this march toward being a passenger rather than a driver in one's car is one of the things that led to the revival of the motorcycle craze... And esp. since the motorcycles of choice (of those who found them later in life...the sportbike crowd seems younger) seem to be Harleys...loud, rumbling and above all visceral, with little high-tech about them. And the most popular activity with them is simply crusing around, enjoying the experience.

    So maybe as our cars are relentlessly automated, we seek the immedicacy we've lost in the bikes.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Very true! And in vintage motorsport, bracket racing, etc. This may be the only hope. Trying to buck the relentless tide of what we call "progress" (but in fact is more like hard-charging consumerism for new gadgets), perhaps the real drivers need to find other outlets and give up the public roads entirely.
  • I can't speak for all the propellerheads, just for myself... but I AM a propellerhead.

    Stability Control is a Good ThingTM. I look forward to the day when all cars have it and it becomes much harder for your average idiot to get sideways on a straight road in a light drizzle.

    However, I won't buy a car without an off switch.

    Referring back to the AMG SL65?, I'm amazed that the usually fantastic German propellerheads (what is propellerhead in German?) didn't include a simple, well-marked button on the dash. They did in my car. :)
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    You may be right but from another message board, quoted since I can't link:

    "We all know that AH has its place and what it does, it does well. Yesterday at Infineon Raceway at an HPDE, the weather was cool, overcast and the track never really warmed up. I was driving my Z06 with a new set of Kumho 710's. I had AH on while warming up the tires and hoping for some sun to shine through. I did a few laps, came back and took some air out of the tires. All things considered the car was really dialed in. Was following a new Modena who had me a bit on the straights but I had him on the turns! My son was riding with me. After about 14-15 laps I decided to turn off AH. I had clearly found my comfort zone but was dragging me down and after all, I couldn't let the Ferrari get the best of me! My pride clearly clouded my judgement. Two turns later in turn 3a which is a rising off camber righty, the back end decided to swing out. What happened next is a bit of a blur since we both got whacked pretty good against the wall...but the car did a 180 as we were sliding out across the grass. The right front hit the concrete first, bounced out and the right rear hit. Fortunately the safety equipment did its job. We tapped helmets and have the dings to show for it but other than a couple of stiff necks we came out of it very well. Just a little bit of swearing as witnessed on the video."

       Guess there's one more believer out there. It was followed by many who are experienced drivers who say they only turn it off when the risks are set pretty low, like at an SCCA track instead of a big commercial facility with lots of walls for spectators.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 130,729
    That guy just thought he had it dialed in.. The car was doing the driving, and he was just along for the ride..

    He didn't hit the wall because he didn't have the stability control on.. He hit the wall, because he exceeded the car's limits. He doesn't know his car's limits, because he tracks it with the stability control on..

    I guess they could put rails on the road, and take the steering wheel completely away.. that way, no more accidents..

    I love stability control, and think it might be the best thing for 95% of drivers... but, you can't blame the lack of it for your own stupidity.


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  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    I think I agree with my mind, the poster of that anecdote hit the nail on the head with "My pride clearly clouded my judgement."

    We've all been there to be sure, and better on the track than on the street.

    But I've found on the track that knowing that it's mainly my own (meager) abilities that are keeping me from plowing into walls/other cars sure makes me err on the side of caution and serves to dampen my testosterone levels. I have plenty of fun, and still get to drive my car home in one piece. To me, it's a great compromise.

    I still agree that stability control is a great thing though, and most cars should have it. Just so long as one can turn it off...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Basically he couldn't drive at the speed he selected. He didn't have the talent. No sense blaming his "off" switch except the one in his brain.

    Once again: "if you protect the foolhardy, you will raise a nation of fools".
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 33,705
    It does make sense for top heavy family cars, like minivans and SUVs. I attended the volvo XC-90 intro ride/drive event, and rode along on the "moose" avoidance course. Not sure how much of it was the car, he stability control, or the driver, but that tall SUV was remarkably stable swerving to avoid the moose.

    I can't say that I have ever come close to needing it, but my wifes pending new van (an Odyssey) will have VSA. Hopefully I will never be able to tell it's there, but it will be there if she (or I) actually need it. Kinda like those oxygen masks on an airplane. How do I know they really exist, and will drop down if needed???

    2019 Acura TLX A-spec 4 cyl. (mine), and 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's)

  • stickguystickguy Posts: 33,705
    Also, VSA, like ABS, is a "tool". And like any tool, the user needs to know how it works, and how to use it. I think that's why there was ambiguity about ABS safety saving lives. For every person that avoided a crash by utilizing ABS the way it was intended, some other dope drove off the road or pumped the brakes, or just got scared from the pulsing.

    2019 Acura TLX A-spec 4 cyl. (mine), and 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's)

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I don't mind being protected from other people but I don't like being protected from myself.
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    So that means they just have to keep one vehicle without the system for you, right? ;)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Maybe I can just rip it out :)
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    Continental AG (CON GY), the best performer this year on the DAX, gained 66 cents, or 1.5 percent, to 44.47 euros. The company expects deliveries of electronic stability systems to triple by 2006 boosted by orders from makers of sport-utility vehicles.

       Don't know what base line so hard to evaluate.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Your own stupidity is not the only kind that'll get you killed.

    I can understand why some don't want these systems in their own cars. But if stability control keeps another idgit in their own lane, I'm all for it.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    Varmint's point is well-taken, esp. with the continually SUV-happy populace combined with the popularity of doing all sorts of things in one's vehicle *besides* actually paying attention to one's driving...
  • unfortunately stability control won't do anything for the reckless AND unattentive driving I see everyday. In fact, I have the sneaking suspicion that it is only going to encourage it as "hey, I've got stability control, I can do whatever and it will bail me out."
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 130,729
    In theory, I agree with this.. However, most inattentive drivers of the type we are referring to don't even know they have stability control, don't know how their AWD works or anything else.... It is just stick the key in and go.. I really think it might help these people..

    I worry more about people like me.... I keep taking that curve at higher and higher speeds.. Maybe I can repeal the laws of physics!!

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  • stability control would ruin all my fun! Yesterday it was raining cats and dogs while I was out. I went through a empty, open stretch of parking lot road that connects a couple of shopping sections and had a little fun. Don't worry folks, flat as can be with nobody around, so no one was put in jeopardy.

    There's a 90 degree bend on this little stretch and with it being so wet I had a little bit of intentional fun. I took the turn intentionally way to fast and power slid around the turn. Stability control (at least without a true "off" button) would spoil my fun.

    And no I don't go doing stuff like that with other people or cars around.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    A couple of snap spins pretty much cured me of my "I am Andretti on a public road" fantasy.

    But I am in general agreement that some people need all the help they can get on the road. Unlike Germany for instance, where you actually have to know how to drive to get a license (and take hours of instruction and fork over beaucoup bucks), here in the Wild West just about anyone with a valid birth certificate and a nervous reaction to heat and light can get licensed.

    Actually, now that I think of it, my personal observation is that hard swerving, incorrect braking, etc. are not the major cause of accidents, but rather downright stupidity (bad judgment is). Things like breezing across lanes without signaling, stopping where you shouldn't be, etc.

    I was just looking at a guy's Porsche yesterday. He pulled into a friend's shop for an oil service and he was telling me about this "clunking noise" in the steering he's had for a few weeks.

    Well since the car was on the lift, I poked around. Front end looked good...and then I noticed, when I opened the trunk, that the U-Joint connection the steering post to the steering box had lost its bearing. Yikes!!

    So point is, things like not signaling, poor judgment, bad tires, mechanical issues, they all add up to something that SC can't cure.
  • You could be like my good friend in his Lexus LS 430 that accidently turned off the stability control (he later figured this out) when reaching to turn on his heated guessed it, he almost spun out the car turning onto a wet road because he's so used to the system being on.

    Good guy and a simple mistake, but it does illustrate a point.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    There's a great book called "the Revenge of Unintended Consequenses" that identifies the basic paradox here: better technology, while often touted as "progress" is frequently a wash in the real world, as its adoption causes us to lose skills we used to have. Just as Shifty and others have been saying...

    And not only that, but it can even introduce what economists call "moral hazard"...the very existence of the technology causes us to act in a different fashion (usually worse) than if we didn't have it.

    Of course, not every bit of technology is like this, but I can see stability control being so...

    Perhaps what would be most useful is if the car would somehow alert the driver that stability control is being invoked. Do cars that have stability control have a little icon that lights up when it is in use?

    When I drive my Mustang in bad weather, if the traction control activates (and the little green wheel lights up on the dash), I know I've not been driving well...when it doesn't activate, I know I'm driving within my limits for the conditions... Obviously, in an emergency situation it's important only that it work, but in less-than-critical times, knowing when it comes on might be an aid to better driving...
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 130,729
    when stability control is activated...

    And it glows continuously when it is manually de-activated.

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  • yeah but where the light is on his dash, it is obscured by the way he has his seating position (I think it is blocked by the steering wheel).
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 130,729
    My wife uses the school bus position on the tilt wheel, and can see all the instruments..

    I pull it down into my lap, and can't see the top of the speedo and some other stuff.. The DSC light is right in the center on bottom of speedo, though .. can't miss it on my car..

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  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    The system has an icon on the dash and sets off a chime if you activate it. When you deactivate it puts the light on and shows on the digital display, that the system is off, you then have to reset the digital display to turn that off but the dash light stays on.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    "There's a great book called "the Revenge of Unintended Consequenses" that identifies the basic paradox here: better technology, while often touted as "progress" is frequently a wash in the real world, as its adoption causes us to lose skills we used to have. Just as Shifty and others have been saying..."

    True, but that's a very broad argument to make.

    If mechanical or technological progress is consistently negated by the sloppiness of the user, how far can we take this? I mean, if this position tells us that ABS has no benefit, couldn't it also be used to suggest that brakes (vs an anchor?) have no merit. Cars have no merit over horse-drawn buggies. Domesticated animals have no merit over bare feet. I'm sure there were a lot fewer riding accidents when mankind walked everywhere.

    How far can we take that argument...?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think your argument isn't quite fair because you are comparing refinements in technology to quantum leaps in technology.

    It is the very subtlety of the refinement that leads to the unintended consequences.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    I still think stability control will be a net plus, as the early studies have already shown. Most drivers don't give a hoot about their skills; IMO they just want to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Plus they seem to prefer doing something else, like yakking on the cell phone.

    Of course, the above doesn't apply to Edmunds posters ;-)
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    Absolutely true. The point though is that technology does in fact have unintended consequences that people don't always consider. Most of the time, as you point out, the negative effect of these consequences do not outweigh the positive effect of the technology. But sometimes...

    If anything, I think the real "take home" point is that new technology always needs to be carefully evaluated so that its users understand as best as practicable the risks and benefits of its adoption and use.

    Particularly in this country, where we tend to immediately identify the benefits of new technology, but it often takes us a while to see the drawbacks. That's a good thing, because it's that attitude that makes America so dynamic and forward-looking, but a little more thoughtful consideration might help us avoid some of the bad stuff of technology.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well I think SC is good for most people in the same way that an automatic transmission is good for most people. I have no interest in either but this is not a Shiftright-centric universe after all.

    But reallly, unless you invent a device that slams on the brakes, throws the driver out of the car, and locks the doors when the driver does something really dumb, sooner or later some drivers will defeat any safety device.

    As the saying goes: "Show me an idiot-proof device and I shall devise a better idiot!"
  • pat84pat84 Posts: 817
    My 4Runner has a VSC ( Vehicle skid control )system. It uses individual wheel braking and cuts the throttle back when it senses a spin. That and the Thorson transmission (can change from 60/ 40 RWD / FWD ratio depending on "on road" conditions, are disabled in 4WD lo range with the differentials locked for off roading. The VSC light is lit in 4WD indicating it is disabled.
     So I can go up hills without having my VSC limit my throttle.

  • highenderhighender Posts: 1,365
    LOL....good one shifty...

    that is really true.....some people will always manage to screw something up, no matter what the safeguards....
  • highenderhighender Posts: 1,365
    hey pat...good to see you with the 4runner running about.... :-)
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    So the question is not whether or not SC is a benefit. The question is whether or not SC provides a greater benefit than the number of new problems it creates. <Just summing up, here>

    "some people will always manage to screw something up, no matter what the safeguards."

    This is something that I can agree with. Shifty's suggestion about manufacturing better idiots follows the same line in more poetic prose.

    But I don't think we should design cars around what the truly incompetent might be dumb enough to try. Cars are designed for the masses, not the biggest nit-wits.

    While there is no data to suggest that SC is better for the masses, the statistics cited earlier certainly show promise. SC-equipped cars show a decrease in the type of accidents the systems were designed to combat. That's not iron-clad proof, but it's a good initial result. So far, I have not seen anything to suggest that SC has lead to an increase in other kinds of accidents.
  • highenderhighender Posts: 1,365
    I agree also with what you said....

    Shifty's suggestion about manufacturing better idiots follows the same line in more poetic prose.

    hey, he does have more practice and is from Marin, poetic heartland of bayarea (not counting Berserkeley) ... :-)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I guess the rapid advance in SC systems stems in part from the prodigious horsepower some of these cars are sporting nowadays. If you think about it, a 617 HP street car would be barely controllable by the average bear if it were hooked up to say a 1963 Corvette drivetrain and suspension.
  • pat84pat84 Posts: 817
    My wife is a nurse and has to be at work no matter what the weather is. I bought my 4 Runner on Dec 31, 03. In January, we had a record snowfall. We had over 2 feet with 5 foot drifts. I could get in my driver's door as there was maybe less than a foot of snow on that side.. The snow on the passengers side was at the roof. I took my wife to work in the snow. We even went over and picked up a nurse who works with my wife. She was on the way.
      As it turned out, they didn't plow our sub-division for 4 more days. I leveled the snow out of our subdivision at a little over 9 inches, the Toyota's ground clearance.
      I could not get the Skid Control to lock in, in the snow. I made turns through intersections that I thought should have triggered it, but, it never came on. I guess all that experience I gained learning to drive in the snow in Chicago with heavy old RWD cars, payed off.
     I do check the air in my tires on a regular basis.
     I've had the 4Runner out on the beach. You have to air down to at least 20 psi. put it in 4WD LO range, lock the differentials and go out in the sand. On the Outer Banks of NC they have beach access for
    4WD vehicles I drive out right to the Atlantic Ocean and surf fish.
      I have to slow go it back on the highway until I get to an air hose at a service station.
     Just getting from point A to B. ;-)
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    I think that's right.

    But I do think though there's a sense (with me at least, possibly Shifty) that we're steadily marching down a path that's going to lead to this: On a Monday morning in 2015, after a nice breakfast, we get in our car to go to work...after sitting down, we select "office" from the monitor in the dash. The car then starts, fastens our restraint system, backs out of the drive and takes us to work.

    Sure, the car ads will tout that you can turn the system off for wicked backroad driving with you in control, and at first, people will. But eventually as the systems get even more advanced, people will come to prefer to let the car do even that kind of driving...sorta a rollercoaster ride in your own car. You get an acceptable punch in the adrenal glands with a very small chance of an accident.

    I think for most of us, driving is the last accessible adventure that we have. And I wonder if we're not slowly giving that up.

    I'm not intending to be a luddite here...I think SC is a great idea, and technology will continue to progress, just as it should. I'm just offering an elegy for the sense of freedom and adventure that our automobiles provide, and wondering if it will always be that way...
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