Good traction control is important for the safety of your vehicle as it helps prevent your tires from slipping when you accelerate, especially on slippery road surfaces. Today’s technology has made it possible for electronic controls to limit the power delivery available to the driver under these driving conditions, which eliminates wheel slippage and assists the driver to accelerate safely and with control.
Previously, cars were equipped with a rear-drive system called limited-slip rear differential, which is considered primitive by today’s standards. With the limited-slip rear axle, power was mechanically transferred to the rear wheel which helped reduce, but not completely eliminate, wheel spin.
Though you may find some limited-slip rear axles still being used today in many front- and rear-drive vehicles, this method cannot completely eliminate wheel slip; therefore, a more sophisticated system has developed called traction control.
In today’s automobiles, traction-control systems employ the same wheel-speed sensors utilized by the antilock braking system. By measuring differences in rotational speed, the system determines whether or not the wheels that are receiving power have lost traction.
If the traction-control system concludes that one wheel is spinning more quickly than the others, it consequentially pumps the brake to that wheel, which results in speed reduction and less wheel slippage. Generally, braking the individual wheel will control wheel slip.
However, some traction-control systems take it a step further by reducing the engine power to the slipping wheels, and the driver may actually detect pulsations from the gas pedal, like when a brake pedal pulsates to indicate the antilock braking system is working.
Some people erroneously believe that traction control can prevent a vehicle from getting stuck in the mud, sand or snow, which is not true. Traction control simply prevents an automobile’s wheels from spinning; it does not have the ability to increase traction.
For ultimate safety in these conditions, drivers must have traction control, antilock brakes, and snow tires.