Stability Control, are you ready for it?



  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142


    From "The Des Moines Register"


    University gets grant for driving study


    The National Advanced Driving Simulator at the University of Iowa has received a $507,530 contract from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


    The grant will be used to study how Electronic Stability Control systems affect drivers' ability to avoid crashes.


    Work on the project will begin early this year.


    Drivers who would like to participate in a NADS study should call (319) 335-4719 or register online at .


    Women are specifically encouraged to participate.
  • brihambriham Member Posts: 33
  • rudmikrudmik Member Posts: 5
    After a few dangerous skids, I thought it was time to get my wife a 2005 Pontiac Vibe. The top technical people at the car dealership told me I would be better off with an AWD without ESC (GM calls it StabiliTrac) for skid control. They said if you have AWD you don't need ESC. ESC is not currently available on the AWD Vibe, but is available on the FWD Vibe. My reasoning seems to indicate I would still be better off in getting the FWD Vibe with ESC to control skids. What do you think?
  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,042
    No. AWD will help you get going but does nothing to correct a skid.
  • 210delray210delray Member Posts: 4,721 can't depend on the dealership to give you the straight story!
  • rudmikrudmik Member Posts: 5
    I just sent this e-mail to GM,and I'm awaiting an official reply.


    I'm getting conflicting information from my dealership. I was about to buy a 2005 Pontiac Vibe AWD and was told by their top technical people that this is better for controlling skids than the VIBE FWD with ESC (Electronic Stability Control - you call it StabiliTrac). This was very important to me after my wife was in a few dangerous skids. But after consulting with ESC discussion groups on the Internet, they said ESC is what controls skids, not AWD. I noticed that GM will be adding ESC eventually to all its vehicles (including AWD), because it is so important for safety.


    The technicians from the dealership told me that since the AWD Vibe has ABS, it is just like having ESC. This does not seem to line up with what I'm reading. Can someone please clarify. If this is not true, then I would buy the FWD Vibe with ESC instead. If it is true, then I would remain with the AWD Vibe.


    Can someone get back to me ASAP with an answer, since this is going to influence my purchasing decision. The dealership already initiated getting a AWD Vibe delivered for me, but if the FWD Vibe with StabiliTrac is truly better for skids, then I will need to switch to this model.
  • mirthmirth Member Posts: 1,212
    ABS is not the same as having ESC (Stabilitrak). If they told you that they're either ignorant or they lied to get you to buy the AWD. You're correct that the Stabilitrak is only available on FWD models.


    Living in the snowy north, I'd prefer the AWD for the better traction, but if snow is not a problem for you then have them get you the FWD model with ESC.


    AWD - traction

    ABS - braking

    ESC - skid control
  • rudmikrudmik Member Posts: 5
    We get a few bad snow storms a year, but I live in a city where the roads are plowed for the most part. What concerns me is black ice and slick conditions where we see lots of skids. This is more dangerous in my mind, than getting stuck in deep snow. If that's the case, would you then suggest I go with the FWD with ESC.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 227,720
    My wife's RWD car with stability control is actually much easier to control in slick conditions than my AWD... However, she can get stuck in places where I don't... But, for skids, etc.. her car is much more stable... (which figures.. stable/stability).

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  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,042
    Find another dealer; this one obviously can't be bothered to learn about the product they're selling. What are the odds that they keep up to date on the service bullitens that GM sends out?


    The other posters nailed it exactly--ABS prevents wheel lock-up during braking, but does nothing to prevent or correct skids. ESC uses the vehicle's brake system to correct skids.


    Edit: It is also possible that the dealer is feigning ignorance because they know it will be impossible to locate a Vibe with stability control, while AWD Vibes are easy to find. You will find that few cars with optional safety features are actually equipped with them; the safety features are effectively special-order only. Either way, the dealer doesn't deserve your business.
  • rudmikrudmik Member Posts: 5
    I found the website was very helpful in understanding the crucial importance of having ESC. I sent them this note thanking them for their services:


    To ESC Coalition,


    Thank you for your efforts to educate the public about the crucial importance of having ESC. I believe what you are doing will save many thousands of lives.


    Yesterday I just did the paperwork to lease a Pontiac Vibe AWD which doesn’t have ESC (StabiliTrac) as an option. When I asked the dealer about it, they said the AWD without ESC is better, so I believed them.


    I decided to do more research and found what they told me was not true. I called them and asked my salesperson to check with their technicians about what I was told about AWD, since I was wanting to switch to the FWD Vibe that has ESC. I said this was really important for me, because my wife had experienced several dangerous skids lately. After checking they got back to me and still said ESC is not necessary, because AWD with ABS controls skids just as well, and that’s why other AWD models don’t have it. This information did not seem right to me, so I did more due diligence on the Internet. I also sent an e-mail to GM outlining what I was told, and I’m awaiting an official response.


    Later today I went into the dealership to talk about switching to a FWD Vibe because I could get ESC with it, and they brought in their top technician to talk to me to convince me that AWD without ESC is better. They said they wanted me to do a test drive 2 different Vibe’s (an AWD and FWD – both without ESC), but I don’t know what that would accomplish since it would be difficult for me to recreate skids when the roads are dry (and besides, this is better left to expert testers). I understand that AWD helps with traction, but that is something totally different than skid control. I place a much higher priority on skid control.


    So again having the education from your website was very helpful to help me formulate an informed decision. I have decided to forego the AWD option so I can get the much safer ESC option on the Vibe.


    When the dealership did a search for Vibe’s in my province of Ontario, there were only 5 Vibes in dealers in Ontario that had the ESC options available. It seems really strange to me that there wasn’t more. When I asked the technician about it, he said that is because dealers would not order the ESC option because the demand for them wasn’t there. I’m hopeful that your efforts will change that soon.


    I’m willing to wait to get the Vibe with ESC that I want because of the education I’ve received through your website. Thank you for the vital and life-saving service you provide.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142



    Interesting, don't know anyone who owns a Buick, that I can remember.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142 _id=9217


    Please note, manual adjustment of the ESC, which it seems is also in F-1 cars. Guessing that it comes as a fairly costly upgrade to a normal sled at home.
  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    So if I had ESC, I would've gone through my last set of tires in more than 3,000 miles. But I wouldn't have learned anything.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    You should always learn from experience. I don't think ESC makes any difference to tire wear in normal street driving. So, is going through the tires part of the ESC, thing, or something else?

       In my case with track driving the problem is a compound effect, the smoother you drive the faster you go, hence, greater tire wear.

       But, ESC is like air bags to some degree, you hope it never comes on, but if it does in the case of air bags you just might survive. In the case of ESC you just might avoid the airbag event.
  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    I've taken up driving through backwater roads, and taking the turns hard when they aren't blind corners or cliffs. Lots of understeering and abrupt braking/accelerating when I started, but less of that now.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    I agree practice is good but even the best public road with what looks like good visibility is always subject to the unknown, dog, deer, etc.

    Stay safe!

    One thing I've gotten about track driving, where you don't know the road, take it real easy.


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  • wjbalikowjbaliko Member Posts: 10
  • kgskgs Member Posts: 2
    this is hard to believe...well, or maybe the problem is that it isn't so hard to believe that a dealer is clueless

    agree 100% with other posters--AWD is about traction, ESC is about controlling skids/yaw. And traction control is about controlling wheel spin when you accelerate quickly on a slick surface.

    I think a RWD or FWD car with ESC will be safer than an AWD car without ESC.

    I'm on my 2nd car with ESC. I wouldn't buy one without it...saved my butt once already.
  • highenderhighender Member Posts: 1,358
    and don't saves others and our infrastructure also....

    all vehicles should have this feature..IMO.
  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    "I agree practice is good but even the best public road with what looks like good visibility is always subject to the unknown, dog, deer, etc.
    Stay safe!
    One thing I've gotten about track driving, where you don't know the road, take it real easy."

    Yeah, I'm being somewhat safe. On the backroads where I drive I know there could be deer or cyclists, so I don't go all out on blind corners, or on corners without guardrails. I'd be nice if there tracks open to the public, but I don't see how they could open one without it being expensive or perpetually clogged.

    A couple of years ago I caused some property damage (hit a gate) when I locked up my wheels going down a very steep hill. I was down to a couple mph when I hit the gate (no damage to the car; gate was bent) so I think ABS might've prevented that. But so would have not panicking.

    That's what got me into reading about how cars work, and how I ended up here, much more obsessed than I ever wanted to be. Now that I have a car at school and I know of those backroads, I'm getting good at getting out of locked-wheel situations, at breaking out of understeer, and more recently I've had some experience with fishtailing. I knew the theory but it took a couple of tries before I could reorient the car quickly enough and in a tight enough space to feel confident.

    It might be all useless if my next car does everything for me. But it's been fun.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    Both the traction control and the Active Handling (ESC) can be turned off or just turn off TC. Makes for fun practice when you get the opportunity and a safe environment. Fun, but knowing its there if needed is also very comforting.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    even though it is 4 days old: -*

    Another take on current stability control offerings.

    Then again looks like you might have to cut and paste since the line break messed up the link, unless somebody knows how to fix.
  • highenderhighender Member Posts: 1,358
    agreed ...

    sports cars ssuch as corvette and 911 would be good to have ESC and TC....and the driver's control over it....

    perhaps regular cars should all have ESC installed,....
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    But is was a good take on the system and the need to have some control. I'm betting that we will see it on all cars in the next decade or sooner but only time will tell and something may come along that is better. Too bad most don't even really know what it is or how it affects them.
    I had the system come on lately with all the rain and I had gone to Comp. Mode with TC off so I could get a little wheel spin. It can be very helpful. Especially if you take some time to figure out where the limits are.
  • highenderhighender Member Posts: 1,358
    Hi Randy:

    I did get to the article...and again, agree that having control over the ESC and traction control is important for sports cars.

    however, for those people who don't know much about cars other than that gas is needed, then they should perhaps have cars with ESC always on...

    but that is only my view and narrow... :-)

    take care bud....and see you on the freeways...I'm going there this weekend to scout out some furniture...
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    Enjoy the weekend, I'll get out of the way, taking the ESC up to Thunderhill for two days to see if I can keep it smooth enough to have the system ignore me. Is that reverse engineering?
  • highenderhighender Member Posts: 1,358
    LOL... yep, it is...but working backwards gets you the result you want....

    have a great weekend...
  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,042
    Sort of like "threshold" braking with ABS. Have fun at Thunderhill!
  • highenderhighender Member Posts: 1,358
    the recent Car and Driver had an article by their editor...Csaba Csere ? It was about ESC...and how much better it is than the much hyped anti-lock brakes....

    you must do something very proactive to get the real benefits of ABS brakes...most people don;t even step on them hard enough to engage the system.

    But the ESC only requires one to at the minimum try to steer towards the intended path...and all else would take is really easy to engage....

    nice article near front editorials...
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    Thanks for the input on the article, I will track it down.

    Current news items: - story/03-01-2005/0003109638&EDATE= - html - 379

    Seems like my ability to cut and paste links is suspect, good luck finding them, the Yahoo item is good but the and mixedpower items have more info.
  • sequoiasoonsequoiasoon Member Posts: 223
    I have a question regarding my 2003 Sequoia. It comes standard with VSC and traction control. Unfortunately it also has open front and rear differentials and relies on traction control to create a "virtual" limited slip differential (LSD). I often encounter very muddy and snowy conditions that the "electronic" traction controls can not handle and the systems turned off due to overheating/safety (I think it's like 45 seconds continuous ABS motor activity) and does so in order to provide proper braking. The Sequoia also has a locking center differential which disables the VSC for use in these slippery conditions since having front locked to rear I presume would not allow the VSC to independently control individual brakes.

    I have been in many 4WD vehicles in these same situations and they performed much better due to having a mechanical LSD or similar. I would like to add either the Eaton LSD or Powertraxx No Slip to at least the rear of my Sequoia. Adding an LSD to the front I know can really effect handling stability in a negative way and don't plan on doing that (but GREAT for off road and mud)

    What effect will adding either the Eaton or Powertraxx have on the VSC system? Will the forces try to fight each other? If VSC tells brake system to apply breaking to right rear only and the LSD views this as loss of traction and tries to send more torque to it what happens? The Eaton I think engages a little slower due to being a clutch pack design but still works great in poor conditions while allowing some slip to occur from my experience. The Powertraxx No Slip engages faster and locks together almost instantly under certain slip conditions which is awesome in those poor traction conditions.

    I need to increase my traction in these conditions but don't want to adversely effect such an excellent safety system. Do the GM SUV's offer Stabiltrack on their vehicles with LSD's? Is it the same type of system? The wife drives it most of the time with the kids so the VSC functioning correctly and safety is my primary concern. I just hate getting stuck in conditions where similar vehicles with a rear LSD seem to have no issue.

    Love the Sequoia and VSC has engaged in some slippery conditions keeping us under control. I'm just not into getting stuck. Having brakes applied to the spinning wheel instead of just adding more torque to the other is not what I want. Sometimes you need both wheels to spin a little in order to clear the mud as well as keeping momentum going.

    Thank you.
  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,042
    If VSC tells brake system to apply breaking to right rear only and the LSD views this as loss of traction and tries to send more torque to it what happens?

    I doubt you will get an official answer out of Toyota on this one. It's difficult to say--you don't want the electronic and mechanical systems fighting each other. The traction control system probably has the capability to reduce engine power as well as apply brakes, but I'm not sure if a slip at one wheel would be sufficient for it to reduce engine power. If it did, though, there would not be any torque applied anywhere while it was braking the wheel.

    ABS computers tend to compensate very well for differences in traction caused by tire selection (as long as the circumference is the same), but I don't know how VSC handles such changes.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142 6/BUSINESS01

    Not sure if it will give full link, cut and paste if necessary. Or go to the home page for the web paper and then to business tab and the article is about four down the list as of now. More cars see Stability Control.
  • highenderhighender Member Posts: 1,358
    thanks....I think that ESC is the other unsung tech advancement that has been overlooked due to the hybrid engine .

    esc is and should be in every vehicle....more so than the ABS brakes....but most people think abs brakes are more important...errorneous, IMO.

    of course , ABS is necessary and a part of ESC....but just having ABS is not enough.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    Trucks are going to get ESC as well:

    Plus additional background on ESC education,
  • shiphroshiphro Member Posts: 62
    "I often encounter very muddy and snowy conditions that the "electronic" traction controls can not handle ... The Sequoia also has a locking center differential which disables the VSC for use in these slippery conditions since having front locked to rear I presume would not allow the VSC to independently control individual brakes."

    You've solved your own problem. Just engage the locking center differential under really loose conditions.

    My vehicle is equipped with ESC (manufacturer-specific acronym is ESP). Under extremely loose conditions such as deep snow/mud, the manufacturer recommends disabling ESP. The AWD system will continue to transfer torque, but the ABS system will not brake a given wheel. I get AWD traction, but no ESC. This is fine by me since in loose, deep snow, I'm only moving a few mph anyway.

    "What effect will adding either the Eaton or Powertraxx have on the VSC system? Will the forces try to fight each other? If VSC tells brake system to apply breaking to right rear only and the LSD views this as loss of traction and tries to send more torque to it what happens?"

    VSC checks inputs (steering wheel angle, gyroscope(s), wheelspin, etc) to determine if you're skidding. LSD looks for some of the same criteria. They'll never be at odds.
  • ecotrklvrecotrklvr Member Posts: 519
    It's not hard to see where VSC could be at odds with the LSD. Let's say you're in a vehicle, approaching a slippery patch of mud / gravel / snow / what have you. Let's also say you want to accelerate across this patch, to build up some momentum for more of the same stuff farther on. As you hit the first patch, if the vehicle starts to loose traction, the LSD would want to brake the spinning wheel to give power to the opposite wheel. At the same time, should you turn the steering wheel, and due to the low traction surface the vehicle doesn't follow the calculated path, the VSC will cut the throttle. It might apply a brake at a single wheel, but first it will cut the throttle. Now you've lost your momentum. This is at odds to the purpose of crossing a patch or slippery stuff, to be sure.

    Just my 2 cents.
  • chrisducatichrisducati Member Posts: 394
    Only if it's free and there is an on/off button. other wise I do not want it.
  • seminole_kevseminole_kev Member Posts: 1,696
    you and I are in the same boat on this one.

    And I mean a true on/off button. None of this "partially turned off" crap.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    But I still think in the NA market that is only about 20%+ of the volume of vehicles sold.
  • sequoiasoonsequoiasoon Member Posts: 223
    "You've solved your own problem. Just engage the locking center differential under really loose conditions."

    I had it that way a couple times until the ABS motor timed out as it was still utilizing this part of the system for Traction Control to apply brakes to the spinning wheel just that the throttle was not being cut. Once the motor times out your back to an open differential (and STUCK). My cousins driveway is the prefect muddy uphill test area about 3/4 mile long up a mountain. He sold his ML320, Discovery, and something else in favor of an older Expedition and Grand Cherokee after getting stuck numerous times for the same problems. I know that adding one of these will help immensely but am just concerned about the other 75% of the time that the wife has it with the kids. What I need is one of the Eaton Electronic locking LSD's that utilizes electromagnets in the clutches or an ARB air locker
  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,042
    I think maybe 51% of models offer it, but 20% of the sales volume is actually equipped with it?
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    Yes, the 20% number is on the record as the latest NA market installation rate. Lots of models must offer it but have very low take rates from consumers.
  • davem2001davem2001 Member Posts: 557
    Or do you enjoy spinning backwards into a ditch (or worse) on a snowy day?
This discussion has been closed.