What is Traction Control?

Traction control can be a bit confusing at times, and we wanted to dive into that a bit further for our audience. Traction control is an active vehicle safety feature designed to help vehicles make effective use of all the traction available on the road when accelerating on low-friction road surfaces. When a vehicle without traction control attempts to accelerate on a slippery surface like ice, snow, or loose gravel, the wheels are liable to slip. The result of wheel slip is that the tires spin quickly on the surface of the road without gaining any actual grip, so the vehicle does not accelerate. Traction control activates when it senses that the wheels may slip, helping drivers make the most of the traction that is available on the road surface.
It is important to remember that traction control cannot create traction where there is none. On a truly frictionless surface (e.g., ice), vehicles with traction control would perform just as poorly as vehicles without it. So don’t assume that your newer vehicle with traction control is safe to drive on icy roads or slick conditions. At the end of the day, your best judgement is your vehicle’s best safety feature.

So when is traction control useful if not on icy roads? Well consider it as more of a traction assistance feature then control.

  • When accelerating up a hill where the surface is loose and gravelly.
  • Hitting a patch of slushy road that causes the vehicle to slow down as the wheels lose traction.
  • Accelerating at a green light on an icy road with traffic approaching from behind.

Overall, the effectiveness of traction control to reduce or prevent crashes and injuries has not been well-documented. Nonetheless, due to its often being packaged together with ABS and electronic stability control (ESC), it is reasonable to suggest that driving a vehicle equipped with this trio significantly reduces fatal crash risk by up to 50%.

Data sourced from Brain on Board

The best way to be prepared for snow or icy conditions to have your vehicle inspected and your tires checked by the team at Professional Tire! Schedule an appointment today!


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