Stability Control, are you ready for it?



  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 233,067
    ...the greatest benefit of stability control is not after your car is into a skid or out of control..

    It is stopping the car from getting out of control in the first place.. It works amazingly well at that..

    Edmunds Price Checker
    Edmunds Lease Calculator
    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    I would agree that it will do well when the driver doesn't have a clue and all they know is the light or chime came on and they are driving down the lane not knowing that something bad, almost happened. The driving problem comes just beyond that point if there is any time to react to the situation and some admit they didn't react properly which resulted in a crash, not avoidance. The more that gets out, I think it might help some people.
  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,193
    ...back and forth in a tail slapper skid...

    From what (admittedly little) I have experienced of ESC, you would nearly have to have your foot fully planted on the throttle to get that to happen, otherwise the braking action would slow the car to the point that the whipsaw effect was no longer possible. That's my theory, anyway...
  • shiphroshiphro Member Posts: 62
    Tail slapper skids don't happen with ESC. If you were really determined and the conditions were really bad, you could get the back end out. But you'd never be able to wag it back across midline. Throttle-by-wire would take the engine down to idle (or kick in engine braking w/ a manual) while the ABS system would be working individual wheels to get your back inline and keep you there.

    Those type of out-of-control scenarios really shouldn't take place on public roads. It's true that ESC won't help if you spin the wheel to lock while going 50mph on black ice. However, that's a falacious scenario and not really relevant to any situation in the real world.

    The majority of crashes and out of control situations occur when someone is driving slightly too fast for the combination of their skills and the conditions. Under those conditions, ESC will save lives (and rims, paint, etc). Furthermore it accomplishes that task via a combination of reaction times, 'feel' and control that no human can emulate.

    I suggest that the skeptics find a dealer on a snowy day and test drive a vehicle with ESC. I know from my own experience that in an unplowed parking lot, ESC will overcome some really stupid driver input.
    EX: From a stop, cut the wheel to one side, drop the clutch at 3k and floor it. Believe it or not, the car will drive in a turning-radius circle. Sure there will be a lot of flashing on the dash and some really interesting ABS sounds coming from the corners. Also, the position of the gas pedal will no longer have any bearing on engine speed or throttle position. That being said, if ESC can overcome that much stupidity in those conditions, there is very little that can be done under regular driving conditions and inputs that would overcome ESC's ability to pull the vehicle back in line.
  • tamarastertamaraster Member Posts: 107
    My snowy parking lot experience agrees with this as well. However, I will note that my roommate was able to make our car (with ESC) bump into a snowy embankment while testing the system in a pullout on a snowy road. ESC is good but it can't alter the laws of physics, so driving carefully is still required. (For instance, if you enter a sharp turn going must too fast and your wheels can't get traction, you may not be able to turn or slow down fast enough to avoid hitting a guard rail or going over a cliff, etc., even with ESC.)
  • shiphroshiphro Member Posts: 62
    ESC helps great drivers. It does things to the vehicle that no driver can match. (Activate ABS at a single wheel)

    ESC helps good drivers. When they encounter unexpected conditions, it will make sure they stay upright, on-road and safe.

    ESC helps stupid drivers. Go ahead and floor it while turning right on red in front of oncoming traffic in bad conditions. ESC and traction control will get you around that corner and moving forward as fast as is safely possible. Hopefully the oncoming traffic also has ESC so they don't wipe out trying to avoid you. ;)

    ESC does not help suicidal drivers. Take a downhill, cliffs-edge, hairpin turn at 80mph in a snowstorm... ESC won't save you. Darwin and I agree that it probably shouldn't.
  • turboshadowturboshadow Member Posts: 338
    Amen to that. And just remember, even great drivers can get unexpected surprises on the road. I have never driven a car with ESC, but if given the option, I would sure take it.

  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    " ... the braking action would slow the car to the point that the whipsaw effect was no longer possible. That's my theory, anyway... "

    Well I'm with you when you discuss driving on public roads. However, I drive on road race tracks and I can speak from experience when I dropped about 1/3 of my right rear tire into some dirt at the end of an outside berm on a left hander going up hill at Sears Point. I was doing just about 100mph at that point and the system caused 4 tail slappers, very hard slaps, while I was hanging on to the wheel steering up where I wanted to go, since the front wheels were planted firmly on asphalt and yes I was slowed but no more than I needed to do anyway to make turn 2. Very lucky in this case!
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    "Tail slapper skids don't happen with ESC."

    Never say never ...

    "Those type of out-of-control scenarios really shouldn't take place on public roads."

    We agree completely!

    However, I got to talk to a friend of a friend who wanted more input after his Corvette took on the center median on the freeway. After discussing what happened, someone entering his lane and his attempt to avoid them by crossing the commuter lane and then return to his lane, since he didn't want a ticket for being a single driver in the commuter lane, he over corrected and the front end when it got grip was pointed back at the median. The car was going too fast to get back where he pointed it so the system took a route that kept the wheels in contact with the road. If he had just ignored the need to get out of the commuter lane he probably would have avoided the wall since he would only have needed to correct half as much.
  • lmacmillmacmil Member Posts: 1,758
    "I'm assuming that ABS, TC, and ESC are all controlled by the same control module. Is this a correct assumption?"

    Pretty much. If you start with a 4-channel ABS system, adding TC requires a couple additional solenoids in the hydraulic control unit and different firmware in the ECU. Adding ESC requires a couple more sensors (steering input and yaw) plus additional code in the firmware. Plus a whole lot more vehicle development time.

    All the major brake suppliers do all their own development for both hardware and software. Who gets which piece of business is driven by cost, performance and how well the buyers and engineers like your sales people (which is why many supplier sales people are attractive young women) ;)
  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 50,243
    One of the comments you made reminds me of a downside to some of the systems:

    "ESC and traction control will get you around that corner and moving forward as fast as is safely possible".

    I recall reading at some point of some systems (and experienced this myself with a TC equipped car) that basically shut down the car in some low traction conditions. I believe it was a road test of an MB that really harped on it.

    Not really that safe if yo upull out on a slick road, and instead of a little tire sin, the comuter just keeps pulling back power or hitting the brakes, so you basically sit there and don't move.

    Not exactly an ESC issue, but still relevant to the proliferation of computer controlled nanny systems.

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

  • user777user777 Member Posts: 3,341
    that would be traction control.

    i've had it engage a few times on my ODY when i stomped on it with wet roads. i quickly recognized what was happening and i knew enough to take it easier on the gas.
  • shiphroshiphro Member Posts: 62
    I guess I don't know what a tail slapper skid is. I figured it was slang for a wagging, back and forth fishtail of a skid. ESC will prevent that from happening unless the back and forth is within a very narrow range and within the ESC's allowed range of deviation.

    Regarding your "friend of a friend", I don't mean to offend, but it sounds like they're a really bad driver. Losing control of a modern Corvette on a 6+ lane highway at highway speeds has to include some really bad driver input.

    ESC can't take the corvette in a direction that the driver hasn't aimed it. If the Corvette driver made contact with the divider, then his (front) steering wheels were pointed toward the divider.

    My guess is that you must've heard the 'official' story. I bet the unofficial story involved triple digit speeds and at least one other yahoo... I mean driver.

    I've heard ESC being used as a scapegoat by people who don't understand physics. Much like the people who claim that their car sped up when they hit the brakes or that traction control slowed them down. Those impressions are caused when someone expects a car to slow down or speed up by a certain amount but instead slows down or speeds up much less.
  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 50,243
    one concern I have is that to some extent, ESC requires you to drive differently (same as with ABS). But, what if one of your cars has it, and the other doesn't? Plus, people are conditioned to react a certain way, and in an emergency, instinct takes over.

    So, in my Accord, if I start to skid I have to turn into it to catch the back end, but on my Odyssey, I need to keep the wheels pointed straight otherwise the car will head off the road (the directtion the wheels are pointed)?

    Even worse, what if you have a kid that could possibly drive both vehicles? How do you teach them?

    This all makes me nostalgic for the days of doing donuts in the HS parking lot with my '73 Duster. No ESC on that baby! not much traction either come to think of it...

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

  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 50,243
    last point. At least in the old days, you were forced to actually learn about driving dynamics, with real and immediate feedback. Makes me wonder how "dumbed down" the next generation of drivers will be? Maybe they really will learn everything they need to know on a PS2!

    I prefer the BMW model of alowing the driver to control the action, and only stepping in when it seems to really be getting out of hand over the Toyota "supernanny" training wheels set up.

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

  • rorrrorr Member Posts: 3,630
    "So, in my Accord, if I start to skid I have to turn into it to catch the back end, but on my Odyssey, I need to keep the wheels pointed straight otherwise the car will head off the road (the directtion the wheels are pointed)?"

    Someone with more experience than I can correct me but....from what I understand, the systems will detect and correct understeer/oversteer issues (in normal driving) so quickly that usually the driver never even knows that a skid was averted.

    So from that standpoint, it should make no difference. The operation should be transparent and not require any driver adaptation. I don't have my Ody manual in front of me but I don't recall any discussion about "Don't try to steer into a skid with the ESC on this minivan".
  • lmacmillmacmil Member Posts: 1,758
    ESC is going to make corrections based on the direction you want to go, which is the direction indicated by the steering wheel. You don't need to drive any differently. By selectively braking the appropriate wheel, it will correct your direction much faster than you could with just steering wheel inputs.
  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 50,243
    the worrisome part is, if you turn the wheel (reflexivly turning into the skid), the car will try to go that way, and may actually accomplish the task!

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

  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 233,067
    "....from what I understand, the systems will detect and correct understeer/oversteer issues (in normal driving) so quickly that usually the driver never even knows that a skid was averted."

    That is it, exactly...

    Unlike ABS, the only thing you need to know about stability control.. is to turn it off, when you get stuck in mud or snow..

    Really... unless you track your car, it doesn't matter..

    For most problems, keep your feet off the pedals, and point the car straight down the road.. That works whether you have stability control, or not.. If it doesn't work, you were already too late..


    Edmunds Price Checker
    Edmunds Lease Calculator
    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • shiphroshiphro Member Posts: 62
    Stickguy: Try taking a few laps in Gran Tourismo 3 or 4 for the PS2 before you disparage video game driving dynamics.

    Rorr & others: You should always steer into a skid. ESC or no, keep the wheels pointed in the direction you want to go. With ESC however, you'll likely never have to change your steering angle because the system will have already corrected by the time you realize what's going on. In the same situation (but without ESC) you'll be able to steer into the skid a few tenths of a second later.

    If your back end ever gets out of line, of course you should steer into the skid. Realize, however, that you're not pointing your wheels off road or into the median, you're pointing them in the direction you wish to travel. When the back end gets 15 degrees out of line, you should have turned your front wheels 15 degrees away from median to compensate. It's the same with or without ESC.

    Just hitting the brakes (instinctive reaction) in an understeer situation should help the front wheels bite and get the vehicle back under control. With the amount of understeer dialed into today's cars (especially a nose-heavy, FWD, Honda Odyssey) it takes some determination to get one to oversteer.
  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,193
    With the amount of understeer dialed into today's cars (especially a nose-heavy, FWD, Honda Odyssey) it takes some determination to get one to oversteer.

    Or, worn rear tires and new front tires on a slick road.
  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,193
    Jeremy Clarkson (host of BBC Top Gear) claims that Vettes up to and including the C5 are easy to spin...

    I can offer no commentary, as, despite my handle, I have never driven one (or ridden in one that I can recall). :P
  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014
    They are easy to spin, but when you slam down your right foot and the LS-1 in the C5 awakens it's easy to correct yourself out of the spin with all that torque. My FIL and I did a little high speed driving in his vette. My cheeks were puckered to the seat. :surprise: I'd love to drive a ZO-6 :blush:

  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    Thanks for the thoughtful answer and sorry to be away so long, got to go overseas for a bit.

    The tail slapper terminology seems to be track talk where drivers recover after more than 2 yaw bouts, where the back end comes out 15 to 45 degrees in alternating directions. The type of thing that never gets recovered on the street, too little experience behind the wheel. The system response was hard enough that I was thrown side to side in the seat while keeping the steering wheel fairly straight. What it demonstrated to me, and I've never been there again, is that the system will recover even big screw ups at speed 'IF' the wheels have adequate traction to work with.

    As to the friend of a friend, I really agree that the car will go where pointed but having done some slide recovery, pre ESC, I know that you have to over correct which is going to point you beyond the best exit and then the question is how quick you get the wheel back, that is where you are right, he blew it. As to the rest of the story, I'd agree, there is always some ego saving involved with describing most accidents.

    I too have been trying to dig around cases where ESC has been scape goated and at least at the track there seem to be two groups, those that turn it off and those that are trying to figure it out and learn to drive with it. Of the former, I've seen two Z06's in the wall in the last two months and of the latter we seem to be figuring it out. Now, for a fact those that got the wall were going much faster than I do on track and therefore were above 95% of limits, little margin for error, while I'm leaving much more margin at the speeds I'm going. It is a daily driver.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    "Stickguy: Try taking a few laps in Gran Tourismo 3 or 4 for the PS2 before you disparage video game driving dynamics."

    Just from a video I caught on a flight, there was a Race of Champions promotion in France last December with lots of related action and Playstation as a sponsor. Professional drivers from various countries competed in several cars as teams and as individuals, great driving. In addition, there was a winner of the virtual driving game (18 and up) that got a few laps in the least overpowered race car in use (indoor track, slick surface). The kid put it into the wall hard at the first turn ending up on his head.

    Then again, one auto magazine, did a comparison with a car and game comparison at Laquna Seca last year and the lap times were off by a big margin which might lead some to think they are learning more from the game than is fact. But I've heard from several that professional drivers use the best simulations, especially on tracks where they have little experience. It seems to be a mixed bag.
  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,193
    Sounds like it's probably most useful for memorizing the layout of the track rather than the hows and whats of driving on it...
  • shiphroshiphro Member Posts: 62
    A realistic model is still nothing like the real thing.

    The cars in GT3 and GT4 will behave in ways that are astonishingly close to the way that cars behave in real life. Traction, rotational inertia, torque, power, turbo-lag, wind resistance and other factors have all been realistically modeled.

    But engine roar, G forces, clutch and shifter action and other factors cannot be effectively simulated on a PlayStation (yet).

    Not only are those factors missing, but I can't be the only one who read the post about the "kid" who wrecked a high-powered performance car and thought "duh. didn't see that coming".
  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014
    Haven't played it.....Is it realistic game, or another kids game ?

  • shiphroshiphro Member Posts: 62
    Gran Tourismo 3 and 4 are realistic driving simulators.

    The cars you can build lean towards fantasy in terms of performance, but the driving mechanics are very realistic.

    You can probably pick up GT3 for a dozen bucks at a bargain bin somewhere.
  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014

  • boxster1boxster1 Member Posts: 18
    I believe that sometimes ESC is almost over "hyped." Drivers not familiar think it will get you out of any situation. The same guys that think ABS will work well on black ice. ESC is pretty amazing, but you can't expect to go into a corner beyond the limits of the tire-grip and chassis, or road surface, and actually make it. Physics will take over at some point and you'll hear that awful sound of crunching metal (or fiberglass). I've driven the new C6 at length and it really is a far nicer handling package than previous models. Much more forgiving and actually, much quicker in performance and handling.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    As far as the C6 being a better package on the street, I agree, it is a very nice ride. On the track they seem to still be sorting out some gremlins in the electronics when the car is pushed at track days. It has just enough more stuff than the C5 either Coupe or Z06 that some systems are still in teething mode, it seems.

    As far as the ESC system not saving real screw-ups I couldn't agree more and the few I've seen on track that say they push to see what it will save are going down a one-way street to a repair bill. Learning how to drive without engaging the system to me makes lots more sense, turns out to be less expensive as well.
  • newcarholicnewcarholic Member Posts: 16
    I'm planning to buy a new car and one of the cars I'm considering is '07Camry.
    I'm considering either base CE or LE model. The price difference between CE and LE is about $1000, LE has some extra convenience stuff but I think I can live without it. In my neck of woods, the base model is not offered with stability control. So I have to get at least LE model for this option. This stability option is $650, which makes the difference between the two models about $1600.

    I've never driven a car with Stab control but I think it would be helpful especially during winter here in midwest. But is it worth extra $1600+? My current car has only ABS(front-wheel drive) but I never had any major problem driving in snow. So my question is what is the maximum price are you willing to pay for the stability control?

  • 210delray210delray Member Posts: 4,721
    First off, the CE is supposed to account for only 5% of '07 Camry sales, so good luck actually finding one. The LE is the volume leader, projected at 60% of Camry sales, so these will be plentiful.

    The LE has remote keyless entry -- do you think you can live without it? I couldn't, now that I'm so used to it. The LE's standard power driver seat is also nice, but the CE's seat is still manually height-adjustable.

    You may want to check with one or more dealers to see if any LE 4-cylinders with stability control are actually available in your area. Toyota tends to "bundle" options together in different combinations for something like 12 regions in the US. It may be next to impossible in your region to obtain a basic LE with only the stability control option, even though on paper it's supposed to be available.

    This is what I ran into when I wanted side airbags on my '04 LE 4-cylinder. I ended up taking a sunroof, a floormat/trunk mat set, and a cargo net in order to get the side airbags (now standard of course). I really like the sunroof now, but at the time, I wasn't so happy about the price premium ($750 invoice, as I recall).

    When I bought my '05 XLE a year later (see my profile for explanation), I was able to buy one with ONLY the side airbags (didn't even have floormats).
  • highenderhighender Member Posts: 1,358
    hello starrow:

    just got a minivan..Odyssey...and it has ESC...with a defeat button. We leave it on...since it is for my wife and kids...and will help keep them out of trouble...

    But like you said....learning how to most important.

    Have fun at your track days with your vette !!!!

  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    As to how much ESC is worth, read the stuff on the NHTSA or IIHS web sites and I think you will decide to pay what it takes. As I remember 35% reduction in fatalities in cars was measurable in one study. Just like the guys that ask about how much a good helmet is worth, the real question is, 'how much is your head worth?'.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    Enjoy the Ody! They seem good for those that want that footprint and people hauler.

    Thanks and I expect to enjoy another day Friday at Thunderhill, Willows, CA with about a half dozen Vettes and probably 60-80 other track junkies. You don't go out this time of year unless you really have the bug. As to the ESC, it might be interesting. The car now has 50k+ miles and recently I had service codes that come and go and the dealer can't duplicate, so I might end up with the system off. Should keep me very safe and sane.
  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,193
    When I was car shopping a few years back (in whatever region Kentucky is in), there were no Camrys available with side bags, but the salesperson told me I could order one in any combination Toyota offered, so you might end up having to order an LE this way.
  • newcarholicnewcarholic Member Posts: 16
    I checked the inventory of a local dealer. No CE models. Among LE models, about 1/3 is offered with VSC. I don't know whether it is just coincidence but the ones with VSC were all from Japan. Anyway, it looks like it would be hard to find the base model. so if that choice is not available, then the difference will be 650 not 1600.
    Then I would be more inclined to take VSC.
  • newcarholicnewcarholic Member Posts: 16
    I did some internet research on ESC and saw the ones you mentioned before. I tend to belived what others are saying about it, and that's why i'm considering this option.

    In regard to the question about helmet/head, one's head is worth more than any amount. But you would buy a super-duper ultra-safe helmet if it costs $1Mil? how about $100k, $10k, $1k, 100 bucks? It's all about personal choices, but I was just asking whether extra $1600 is worth an additional safety due to VSC.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142
    I think you've answered the question, your head, or those riding with you may be priceless. A little additional cost may make you feel really good at some point in the future, only you can answer that question. To me knowing the system is on the wife's car is very comforting.
  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,193
    I think the 35% reduction in fatal crash figure that you mentioned was for single-car crashes only. That's still a huge reduction.
  • 210delray210delray Member Posts: 4,721
    Don't forget that single-vehicle crashes cause nearly half of the vehicle occupant fatalities every year in this country.

    And that 35% reduction is for cars; for SUVs, which are more rollover prone, the reduction is something like 65%.

    The vast majority of rollovers, by the way, are single-vehicle events.
  • newcarholicnewcarholic Member Posts: 16
    with $650 difference, no question about it.
    Thank you all for your comments.

    Just curious. If this option is that good, how come it is not more common?

    Can anyone estimate how long it took for airbags to be more less standard? VSC costs less than airbags costed.
  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,193
    A driver airbag or automatic belts were required starting in 1990, with some sort of phase-in requiring a higher percentage of airbags in later years. I think the phase-in was completed in 1997 (requiring dual airbags in all passenger cars).

    It's not common in the US because people don't demand it. It's more widely available in Europe. GM has promised standard Stabilitrak (but no standard side airbags) on all their models by 2010, and on all their light trucks by 2007. Right now, on their cars, they only offer it on models with prices around $30,000 and above. It's optional on many Dodge cars, and used to be an option on the Ford Focus, but is no longer offered on any Ford car except the Lincoln LS. Shame on them!

    It's standard on nearly every European car--I think the Jetta value package and Mini Cooper have it as an option. Toyota offers it on many of their cars, Honda has it on all their trucks, Subaru doesn't offer it very widely, and Hyundai and Kia seem to be including it on their new models. It's very hit and miss!

    I think all SUV's sold in the US will have stability control by model year 2007. It's being offered in more and more standard cars, so I figure within 5 years, it will be an anomaly to see a new car without it.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142 - 14

    Comments about ABS and ESC in mid-article are most direct I've seen.

    Another article about GM getting training on ESC by Bosch:

    This is a different system than the GM/Delphi brake systems in most of the rest of their fleet. Works the same but different gyro sensor.
  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014

    Good post pal. ;)

  • 210delray210delray Member Posts: 4,721
    If this option is that good, how come it is not more common?

    Corvette gave a good answer -- frontal airbags were mandated; this is not yet true for stability control.

    It's only recently that the real-world benefits of stability control became clear. People were skeptical because antilock brakes were supposed to lead to a reduction in crashes, injuries, and deaths, but there was no significant change.

    But stability control (which of course includes antilock brakes and traction control) really works!

    Problem is that most people still aren't aware of the benefits, it's still rather pricey as an option (gotta get the leather or sunroof instead), and manufacturers aren't anywhere near agreement on what to name it.

    In the early days of antilock brakes, we had ABS and ALB as acronyms, the latter used by Honda. Soon, everyone settled on ABS. No such agreement is in site for stability control, which in my opinion should be called electronic stability control, or ESC.
  • corvettecorvette Member Posts: 10,193
    As for other safety features, I was under the impression that 2007 side-impact standards will cause cars to come with standard side curtain airbags, but they are not explicitly mandated, and many cars may not have thorax bags.

    I thought all 2006 cars were supposed to have flat tire monitors, but if memory serves, there are several models that don't have them.
  • starrow68starrow68 Member Posts: 1,142 - -405/electronic-stability-control.htm

    Two real background items. Also I looked for the following:
    But, seems it doesn't work any more. It was a joint funding effort by Conti-Teves and Bosch to get out education on ESC but seems it much have fallen through.

    There is more data at both Conti and Bosch.
This discussion has been closed.