Understanding Traction Control: What It Is and How It Works

May 28th, 2014 by

Over the last several years, car manufacturers have put a lot of attention towards making their vehicles safer. For this reason, new vehicles have a number of safety features such as side and knee airbags and OnStar communication systems that call for help, while dispatching your location when you’re in an accident.

You can talk to your Toyota dealer to learn more about other safety features offered but another one that you’ll find on all new vehicles is traction control. Simply put, it helps drivers to have better control over their vehicles but this advanced technology is often misunderstood. Understanding traction control will help you see how having this technology is beneficial for everyone in the vehicle.

What Is Traction Control

Traction control is actually one part of a three-part system that includes anti-lock brakes and stability control. Together, these three technologies help to improve the traction between your tires and the pavement. Anti-lock brakes are designed to prevent the vehicle from sliding when you apply the brakes and stability control helps to create a smoother stop when you hit the brakes hard.

Both anti-lock brakes and stability control deals with stopping the vehicle, while traction control deals with the acceleration of the vehicle. This technology has been around for a while but it has greatly improved over the last several years.

How It Works

Traction control helps to maintain maximum contact between the tires and the road on which you’re traveling. Each time you press the gas pedal to go or whenever you speed up quickly to pass someone, this technology helps you maintain control of the vehicle by preventing it from spinning and sliding around during acceleration. The sensors pick up when one or more of your wheels lose traction. They send this information to the system where it automatically makes an adjustment to help the vehicle regain traction.

For example, if you were to take off from a dead stop in a vehicle without traction control and you press the gas pedal too hard, the tires will spin for a moment before the vehicle will take off. How long and how far you spin will depend on whether or not the road is dry or wet, the type of vehicle you have and how much power it has. If you were trying to move quickly to avoid an accident, you may not be able to get out of the way in time. However, a vehicle with traction control would start moving as soon as you accelerate instead of spinning.

A Common Misconception

A common misconception is that traction control will help give you more traction for driving in snowy or icy weather. While it will help keep your tires from spinning during acceleration and it is a great thing to have when driving in inclement weather, it will not keep your vehicle from being stuck when driving in snow. If this is what you’re looking for, you need a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Traction control comes standard on all new Toyota vehicles, so it’s beneficial to understand exactly what it is and how it works.

Posted in Toyota