So much technology has become available for new vehicles with each passing year. In reality, it seems like we’re driving “rolling computers” these days. Understanding what each automotive technology can do for us is important. These modern technologies are designed to keep us safe while we drive. Knowing exactly what these technologies can do for us and how they work is important if we’re going to take advantage of them and not fear them.
One such automotive technology is Electronic Stability Control, or ESC. To some, you may know it as Electronic Stability Program (ESP) or Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), just to name a few. Despite what you may call it, it has a function which could help you keep your vehicle under control. Essentially, ESC will detect if the vehicle is losing traction or steering control during a panic swerve or when driving on a slippery road surface. It will automatically apply braking to individual brakes which will help bring the vehicle safely back in line, without the danger of skidding out of control. ESC will only be activated when it detects a possible loss of steering control, such as when the vehicle is not responding to where the driver is steering toward.
When ESC is activated, braking is automatically applied to individual wheels. When ESC is applied, it will make a noise as if something is broken with your vehicle. Don’t worry though; everything is fine. The outer front wheel has braking applied to counter an oversteer (fish-tailing) and braking will automatically be applied to the inner rear wheel to counter understeer (plowing ahead). Since ESC can apply the brakes to individual wheels, while the driver can only activate brakes to all four wheels at the same time, ESC can recover from potential skids that a driver simply can’t. Some ESC systems may also reduce engine power until control is once again regained. ESC does not improve a vehicle’s cornering ability, so you’ll still need to slow down for the conditions.
This video can explain more; https://youtu.be/MCRLKRluk1w
ESC can be quite effective, but it depends on the amount of traction between the road and the vehicle. For example, if the vehicle has tires without sufficient tread, under inflated tires or tires not designed for the climate, ESC will be less effective compared to a vehicle with proper tires specific to a road conditions. (**Learn more about tires HERE) ESC is built with the aid of the anti-lock brake system (ABS), and all ESC equipped vehicles do include traction control, a secondary function of ESC. Traction control senses when the drive wheels lose traction and begin spinning. When this happens it will often reduce engine power. Traction control may be able to prevent some skids, but it does not provide the same level of safety that ESC does.
**Learn more about Anti-Lock Brake Systems HERE
Despite the fact that ESC can help you maintain control of your vehicle, the best safety feature you have in your vehicle is YOU. ESC won’t keep you out of all collisions. Only you can do that. Drive to the conditions of the road and slow down for corners. See if you can drive in such a manner that ESC doesn’t have to come on. It’ll be worth it.