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Toyota Prius - Traction Control vs Vehicle Stability Control



  • I told my dealer the problems that we were having with the Traction Control on my Prius and on my wife's Camry Hybrid. He told me to buy some snow tires. And the reason that the hybrids don't come with snow tires on them in the northern portions of the U.S. is that snow tires greatly reduce the MPG. I plan on getting snow tires for my Prius within a few weeks. I will post the results.
  • In response to all the Prius complaints about winter traction problems I can honestly say that I have never had the problems that I am reading in this forum.I have been driving my Prius for 5 winters now including last years record snowfall here in Wisconsin.I find this vehicle to be excellent in the snow and I also believe it has a lot to do with how you drive them.Too much power to wheels will make them spin and traction control aids in this.I have also never seen a Prius stuck in snow as many of you have claimed.There are a lot of wrong things to do in winter driving and between my Prius and me we try to eliminate them all.Wouldn't own anything but a Prius.
  • My Prius is great in the winter...I suspect that numerous UAW / US Autocompanies people submit false reports to tarnish the Prius image !
  • andyuandyu Posts: 3
    I have a 2006 Prius and it's terrible in snow. It's a great car, but the traction control is too aggressive. Is that so hard to admit? It's a software problem and probably only affects some models. Of course... UAW members could be posting these "my prius is great in winter" messages to tarnish the image of Prius drivers by making them sound brainwashed...
    I love my Prius, but when a blizzard is on, I'm going to be driving my GMC Sierra 2500HD 4x4 Duramax Diesel and while I'm doing it I may even stop to pull out some of the stuck Prius's. ;)
  • I just had my first real experience driving my '06 Prius in snow. (I think I've been in snow a little since I've had it, but not much.) I suspect a lot of it is that the all-season tires I have do very well in snow, but I have had no real problem.

    I did have one issue with the traction control, but it was in a situation that I didn't entirely expect to make it through anyway. Climbing a rather steep hill, I got half way up when traction became such an issue that the power cut out completely leaving me sliding backwards a bit. I think I might have had a chance without traction control, but I can't say for sure. Anyway, I was able to back up the rest of the hill without a problem.

    It definitely does prevent much wheel spin. For a better description, when the wheels spin, the power gets cut until the spinning stops. At that point, if you are too aggressive, you can quickly spin them a bit more and again the power cuts out. I think it completely cut out when I started sliding backwards. This might be a bug in the software, and this could have been more dangerous if I had been somewhere where I could have had someone behind me.

    So I guess, overall, I think tires probably make the biggest difference. Maybe they're just telling drivers that they need different tires if they're driving in snow.
  • I have to echo several of the posts here: I live in the mountains, have for nearly a decade, very little here is flat and in winter snow and ice are common. My wife and I love our 06 Prius (so far); but we were coming home last winter on clear road when it began to flake a mile from our house. It may have been that I was in a hurry to get home, but I expected the same kind of traction from the Prius I'd get in any 2WD. Not so. We lost all power going up a short hill just around the corner from our street. The road is paved, but with just, maybe, a 1/4 inch on the ground, just enough that most of the road was white, but we lost all juice, got stuck not moving, and somehow managed to get off to the side of the road and under a pine tree by going backwards. It was dark, and we hoofed it home. Luckily, it was just a dusting, and with dry roads we drove home fine the next afternoon (it's something lying awake at night, waiting to hear the plow hammer by and wonder if your car was towed or hit).

    So, I agree, Prius is awful in even light snow in my experience. Now, did I play and practice with it? Not much. And those were probably the stock tires (though I can't recall). We have good Michelyn all seasons on there now just to help with rain, etc. We both work below snowline, so full snow tires on the Prius are not an option (our other cars are a Subaru Outback with triple treds and my Tacoma with 31 BFG's...both work great in the snow, though the Goodyears begin to lose their snow mojo a bit around 40K...with two bags of solid concrete in the pickup bed I am fine).

    Up here, as those of you in snow country know, trying to get to work in the pre dawn dark, or get home, good tires in good condition and all the right AWD or FWD are not a luxury of living, they're part of staying alive. Would we have bought the Prius knowing this? Probably. (The salesguy swore the traction control would make our Prius as good in the snow as an AWD).

    And no, I have no interest at all in UAW or any of that; I teach for a living.

    My Prius is sitting in my driveway now, packed snow and ice are on the road, and we're going on a long car trip (1000M) in two days; a storm is coming in tonight; do I dare to try and drive it out before? Not likely, but if I do, I'll let all know how the Michelyns worked. Worst case, AAA can tow me down to dry pavement if nobody smacks me while I'm sitting there.

    My sincere thanks for the many helpful comments on this board. I haven't heard of the software retrofit, but if it didn't cost a fortune we'd do it.
  • wamcowamco Posts: 3
    I own and operate a small limousine company 30 minutes north of Toronto and one of my vehicles is an 05 Prius. I am currently driving airport clients from the Aurora/Newmarket area 3 or 4 times a day, sometimes in severe winter weather and in the early mornings even before the plows have been out! I have recently been out in 15-20 cms. of snow and have had NO PROBLEMS! (touch wood). I installed 4 snow tires with steel rims. This is the first winter I have had it and have found it exceptionally good on the snow. The Toronto area has been hit with a couple of big snow storms this week and the Prius managed very well! I often passed other vehicles stuck on hills or in a ditch. The Prius's traction control does cut the power during slow speed wheel spins but it has never stopped or quit! The traction control always seems to do it's job well. It would be nice to be able to switch off the traction control as you can on some conventional vehicles but I'm OK with the way it works for me. So please spread the word that there is a "Green Limousine" company in the York Region area of Toronto that is eco-friendly and"can get you there safely no mater the weather" - for more info go to:
  • What brand and model snow tires are you using in Toronto?
    I have Blizzak WS-50's on my 2004. They were OK the first winter but are not good now.
    I did use them for 4 winters (off in the spring) but want to replace them with something better.
  • pdxorpdxor Posts: 8
    I think I can understand both points of view. I just experienced my first real snow fall with the Prius. Portland just received 10 inches of snowfall overnight. Unfortunately, the city does not aggressively plow/salt the roads here. The local DOT posted a chains required warning for the entire city. As I do have to report to work tomorrow, I decided to test the conditions in the neighborhood. After shoveling out my driveway, the Prius(2007 touring) hit the streets. I was very impressed. The VSC system is very aggressive. I found that it under a great majority of conditions, it kept the car moving with exceptional stability. All of my previous cars(front wheel drive) tended to pull to one side. The VSC system(yellow light blinking constantly) kept it very steady. I did run into the power cut off phenomenon several times. Essentially, if the car has no traction it will not spin the wheels. This happened when I ran the car in 6-8 inches of unplowed snow. It was somewhat disconcerting, but I do believe that any other(similarly sized, fwd) car would have just been stuck spinning the wheels. Both times this happened, I was able to quickly remedy the problem by gently reversing and approaching from a slightly different angle. It actually is quite adept and doing the most with the least traction available. ( As some of you have pointed out, the Prius probably has less weight over the front wheels than most cars.)
    The Prius does not give you the traction of four wheel drive and you should probably put chains on in severe conditions. If I had the option of driving a 4x4 Duramax in really bad weather, I would. (Sadly I don't) However, I am very impressed with the VSC system. Having experienced midwest and east coast winters all my life, I think this system makes you look good. For example, I am used to building up some speed to make turns with heavy snow buildup. In my older cars, this maneuver would give me some serious "fishtailing". This is essentially eliminated with the Prius. This is without a doubt, the best car I have ever owned for snow driving. (Previous contenders SAAB 900(92-98), VW GTI(99-07))
  • My wife and I both have identical 2008 Priuses/Prii. The problem we're both running in to is that on slightly slippery roads, the car just gives up. You could put the pedal on the floor and you get almost zero power. There's no wheel spin and the engine isn't rev'ing either. It's really annoying but beyond that, I think that it actually is a safety issue. (NOTE: i'm not a UAW worker trying to diss the Prius. And BTW, that's one of the more paranoid assertions I've heard recently.)

    But even in the middle of summer in dry weather, the traction control freaks out. I'll be driving through downtown Boston traffic and get the slip light just by driving over a manhole.

    Is there anything that the dealer can do to ratchet down the traction control?
  • I live in Colorado and have not experienced that problem with my 2004 Prius.
    I was sliding around a lot this week so yesterday I replaced my 4 season old
    Blizzaks WS-50's with WS-60's. Too soon to tell if that will help.
  • As a native of Western Montana (better known as snow country), current resident of western Washington, and the owner of a 2007 Prius, I must agree with all who desire either an "On-Off" Function or a "Winter Mode" selection. I live in the country, with a 200-foot gravel drive on about a 6% grade, and WITHOUT ANY SNOW, I frequently have to back down and make a faster run at it to get to the top without the power cutting out because one wheel turned a little gravel and caused the Traction Control to cut the power. No, I barely know what UAW means, but I AM accustomed to being able to finitely control the power to the wheels of my vehicle, and find this one can be VERY frustrating. And, Yes, I do have the most aggressive snow tires available on the car. I was "snowed-in" over Christmas, because, with 4-6 inches of snow, and chains on my Prius, I was unable to get out of my driveway due to the above-mentioned problem. Would strongly advocate for either a far less aggressive slow-speed Traction Control, or the ability to turn it off in certain situations. Can't get great mileage if I can't get out of the driveway !
  • I need to get snow tires for my 2008 Prius. Any recommendations? During our last snow storm is was a nightmare. (And I grew up in western NY and know how to drive in the snow.) Thanks!
  • tiff_ctiff_c Posts: 531
    I need to get snow tires for my 2008 Prius. Any recommendations? During our last snow storm is was a nightmare. (And I grew up in western NY and know how to drive in the snow.) Thanks!

    Try the Nokian WRG2 it's a 50,000 mile snowflake rated tire. They work awesome!
    If you need a full blown snow tire Nokian makes those as well. I've bought a lot of snow tires over the years, but nothing beats Nokian tires in the snow and ice.
    Once you go Nokian, you will never go back! :shades:
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    If you haven't already you might try visiting There are a lot of northern drivers there that have had 5-8 yrs of experience with the Prius in all kinds of weather from the Rockies to the recent storms in the NW to the depths of darkest Canada.

    Like everything else with the vehicle it takes some relearning; e.g. putting the pedal to the floor is the last thing you want to do.

    To answer your last question, NO. The TC technology is put into the hybrids due to the huge amount of torque from the e-motor. It has to be present at all times or else you'd just be sitting at a stop sign in dry weather spinning your wheels like at a funny car drag race.
  • So do I put snow tires on just the front wheels or do you need them on all 4?
  • vu2000vu2000 Posts: 58
    I have a 2007 Prius which I have owned for 2 years now. I and my wife have driven this car in the snow here in DE. In over 45K miles now, I have not noticed any difference between this car and my previous Honda Accords or Nissan in snow. The OE Good Year tires were worse in the snow than our current Falken tires used on this car for the last 15K miles. In snow 6" or more, I simply use our minivan which is heavier with higher ground clearance and can plow through the snow better.
  • Snow tires go on all four wheels. You need traction to stop as well as to go and for turns and curves. You will need to mark the tires (front, rear, right, left) so you rotate them on alternate years. I had four Blizzak snow tires that looked OK after four winters (less than 20,000 miles) but they didn't hold the road so I replaced them all few months ago with new Blizzaks which are great. You need not just some tread but deep tread or new tread. I take them off in the spring. I have two sets of tires and wheels to make it easier. I change them myself twice a year although many tire stores will change them for free if you bought the tires there.
  • dmathews3dmathews3 Posts: 1,739
    Also check the date of manufacturing when buying as you want new tires as they need to be replaced after 6 years due to rotting even though they may look new. I know this as a motorhome owner who never gets enough miles on them but have heard fellow motorhome owners who have had blowouts at speed due to the tire cracking and letting go. So if you have a set of snow tires you have been using for a few years check the date they were made on the sidewall and no matter what they look like to the eye they may be cracked on the inside, do yourself a service and replace as your life is worth more than the $$ they cost.
  • cathie2cathie2 Posts: 2
    I have a 2008 Pruis with the VehIcle Stability Control. I recommend highly you don't get it if you live where there is snow. You cannot turn off the VSC and if you go into a skid, you lose your power and you cannot get out of your skid. You are totally helpless. DON'T GET IT. It is unsafe,,,,,Trust me. I actually had to call the police trying to get up my hill. I went into a skid and lost all power to move the vehicle. It took my husband 45 minutes of moving the car back and fourth to even move a foot. IT IS DANGEROUS.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    It's going to mandatory on all vehicles in the US by MY 2012. No getting around it.

    There's lots of discussion about the subject here with pro's and con's and tips. The first tip is get good snow tires. those that have gotten good winter shoes don't report any issues; Canada, Minn, Colo, Calif mountains, NE, etc.
  • oh my gosh!! I had to reply!! I thought it was my driving!! I tried to leave my home this passed winter(i live in OR) we live on a hill. We have a 2008 and i lost complete control, it was like nothing worked! i ended up down an embankment and had to be towed out very scary!! 12,000 in damage!!!we did not have snow tires, but now im afraid to even to drive it next winter even if we get snow tires. have you bought snow tires did they help.thanks for sharing your story!
  • dmathews3dmathews3 Posts: 1,739
    On the Fords and GM products I have driven with it there is a button to turn it off. Once you restart the vehicle it is back on unless you manually turn it off.
This discussion has been closed.