Are you curious about the traction control button and do you want to learn more about the benefits of turning traction control off? Well, if that’s the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic where we are going to learn everything concerning this issue.
- Traction Control?
- Components Of TC
- How It Works
- How To Turn Off?
- Should You?
Traction control as you probably know is one of the most important safety systems on our cars that we cannot live without. Without these safety systems, cars would be really unpredictable and dangerous to drive. And I mean really dangerous since this system is the difference between life and death in some cases.
Modern cars are quick off the line and you need something that will keep you on the road and prevent you from sliding off and ending up in a ditch on the side of the road. So, at any given moment, you shouldn’t be frustrated when it comes to using this system since it is only there to protect your life and the life of the passengers. Still, there are some benefits of turning traction control off. But more on this later in the article.
First, we will learn what is traction control and why it is so important? Then we will cover how this system works and then we will discuss the benefits of turning traction control off as well as the cons of turning this system off. Later on, we will learn if should you turn it off and also the problems that are associated with this system. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
What Is Traction Control
Now before we dive into more complex topics like the benefits of turning traction control off, let’s first cover more of the basics and understand what is traction control in general. Knowing more about the basics of the traction control system will be beneficial when it comes to the outcome of having it turned off. So, let’s get into the topic.
A traction control system or TCS is a special system that is included in our cars. This system is a part of the ESC system. Also known as electronic stability control.
This traction control system has a really important role. And that is to help the vehicle prevent a loss of traction. But what is a loss of traction?
A loss of traction, in general, is a situation when the wheels spin while the car is stationary. This means that the wheel rotations and the chassis aren’t moving at the same pace. This is also known as wheel spin.
This is a dangerous situation. But why it is so? Well, when the wheels are spinning, you don’t have proper contact with the road surface. So, the car can either oversteer or understeer. And when this happens, all hell breaks loose and you can drive yourself into a pretty dangerous situation that is hard to recover from.
This is where traction control comes in handy. This system will simply prevent your wheels from spinning and not end up in a situation like this. But what are the benefits of turning traction control off? More on this in a bit while we cover more on the history of traction control.
History Of Traction Control
Now before we dive into the benefits of turning traction control off, let’s take a look more at the history of this system and understand its roots. This will be a fun read since the early beginnings of this were really interesting. So, let’s cover them real quick.
As you probably know, in the past, there were no complex electronics. There were no computers that could make decisions and engage certain components of your car. Back in the day, everything was analog. And so was the first traction control system.
The first traction control system if we can call it that way, was the limited-slip differential. So, how this device was created?
Well, in 1935 Ferdinand Porsche, the founder of Porsche and designer of race cars, noticed something really strange. An excessive wheel spin over 100mph. So, he gave the company ZF to come up with a design to prevent this situation from happening. And this is how the limited-slip differential was invented.
This is a purely mechanical device that transfers a small amount of power to the non-slipping wheel while still allowing some wheel spin to happen. These types of differentials are still used nowadays. But frankly, they are not enough to tackle this problem. And this is why something had to be done.
And as electronics have evolved, they allowed the implementation of computer systems to detect wheel spin and adjust the engine power. In fact, Buick was the first company to implement these systems in 1971 and in 1971 Cadillac also introduced the Traction Monitoring System, the early ancestor to the Traction Control.
But what are the benefits of turning traction control off? More on this we will cover in a bit.
Traction Control System Components
Now before we cover the benefits of turning traction control off, let’s take a look at the components that are constituting this traction control system in your car. Knowing the components is really important if you want to fix possible problems with this system. And that is something that we are going to cover later in the article.
The important thing you should note is that this system is overlapping with the ABS system. The ABS system is the anti-lock braking system that was designed to prevent skidding under heavy braking and allow the car to stop sooner by engaging the brakes in a speedy manner so the tires don’t skid.
And so is the case with the traction control system. This system relies on the same components which are the wheel speed sensors mounted on each wheel, and the ABS pump. All these sensors communicate with the ABS control module.
So, you can see how these two systems are interconnected in many places and whenever you have a problem with one, you could also have an issue with the other system as well. But what are the benefits of turning traction control off? Well, more on this we will explain later on, now let’s see how this system works in general.
How Does Traction Control Work
Now before we learn more about the benefits of turning traction control off, let’s focus more on how this system works in general. What is the method of action of this system and what kind of magic happens under the hood? Let’s explain.
This system purely relies on the traction control sensor or sensors. Since there are four of these sensors, one on each wheel. These sensors are also known as wheel speed sensors.
They are designed with the purpose to measure the wheel speed. On each wheel, there is a tone ring that rotates as the wheel rotates around the axle. And this tone ring has grooves on it.
As the wheel spins, the tone ring detects the motion of the tone ring and records the input. And sends this data to the powertrain control module.
Then from the powertrain control module, there is information sent to the throttle actuator. Then the engine does its magic. It either cuts the fuel to the engine causing it to slow down, or retards the ignition timing a little bit so the engine slows down and the wheels do not spin. There are also other methods that this system uses but these are the most common ones.
All this process is started immediately when the wheel sensors notice that there is even a slight loss of traction.
They will basically not allow your car to slip even a tiny bit. When doing so, this system will keep you on the road and will make sure that you don’t go into a dangerous situation and possibly hurt yourself in the process. But what are the benefits of turning traction control off? Well, more on that we will cover up next, so you don’t want to miss that.
Pros & Cons Of Turning The Traction Control Off
Now as we cleared the basics of this traction control system and how it works. We think that now it is time to dive into the benefits of turning traction control off and also the cons of having this system off.
As you probably know, everything has its pros and cons and so is the case with traction control. And you deserve to know all of them, you don’t want to make a mistake and possibly hurt yourself in the process. So, pay attention carefully while we cover these important bits.
Benefits Of Turning Traction Control Off
Now let’s get to business and learn more about the benefits of turning traction control off. What are the pros of doing this action on your car? Let’s explain.
Let’s imagine that you are driving in the snow or in deep mud. Suddenly, your car comes to a stop and you press on the gas the car simply does not want to move at all. Why is this the case?
Well, this is actually the case because of the traction control system. This system does not allow the car to break traction and you end up stuck in the process.
Whenever you get stuck, you just need to have one wheel that will be able to break the traction and propel the vehicle forward. But why is this helpful? Isn’t more useful to have both wheels with traction control on?
Well, it is not the case in real life. In these situations, it is much better to have one wheel spinning with full power, than have two wheels with a limited amount of power.
Having the traction control on will not deliver the same result that you want as in the case when you have this system in the off position. When the TC is off, the car is simply a lot more alive and able to push harder in order to evacuate you from this unpleasant situation.
Another situation why you need traction control off is for track use. If you are one of those guys who wants to have a good time on the track, you need to turn off the traction control if you want to get the most out of your car. This is a must. So, we covered the benefits of turning traction control off, now let’s see the downsides.
Downsides Of Turning Traction Control Off
As we covered the benefits of turning traction control off, we think that now it is time to discuss more on the downsides of having the traction control off. Are there any downsides to doing such action? Let’s elaborate more on this.
When it comes to downsides, it is worth it that there are a number of them. But the most important downside is that you will take your life in danger if you are driving like this. Why? Well, because it is true. Let me explain.
Imagine that it is raining outside and the roads are really wet. You drive your rear-wheel-drive car on the road and you suddenly lose the rear end without any warning or information that a thing like this could happen.
In this situation, you can hit something sideways and end up into a tree or a wall possibly. Or even participate in a rollover. These situations can almost take your life.
This is why traction control turned on, on a rear-wheel-drive, is mandatory if you cherish your life. You just don’t want to drive a rear-wheel-drive car without traction control.
Even on front-wheel-drive cars, it is also dangerous, although to a lesser extent if we compare it with RWD.
With FWD you will get often wheel spin when accelerating. Especially on a surface like gravel or in wet conditions. This could also be dangerous and could make a ton of unwanted situations.
Not to mention that the life of the tires on your car will suffer quite significantly and you will basically struggle driving this car. So, we covered the benefits of turning traction control off and the downsides of doing this. Now let’s see how you can turn it off.
How To Turn Traction Control Off
As we learned the benefits of turning the traction control off and you have come by a situation that is indicating a need to do so. For example, you got stuck in the mud or you want to use your car on the race track? What you can do in these instances and how you can turn your traction control off?
Well, on older cars, there is a special button. You press this button and the traction control immediately turns off the traction control.
This was essential for these situations and this is why a lot of carmakers have installed this special button on the vehicles they sell. But how to find this button?
This button usually has the abbreviations TC or TCS on it. In some cars, this button also has a vehicle with skid marks below it in the shape of an S under the lettering. So, you cannot miss it by any means.
But on modern vehicles, there could be no button on the dash. Nowadays carmakers decide to implement everything in these big screens that could make regret that you purchased the car in the first place.
Imagine ending up stuck in the snow and you cannot figure out where this option is located. The sooner the snow will melt that the owner to find the specific option in the menu.
This is why I appreciate older cars, everything is laid out perfectly and you don’t struggle to find a specific option in order to activate it. So, we learned the benefits of turning traction control off and how to turn it off. But how you can turn it on? Let’s discuss more on that next.
How To Turn Traction Control On
We learned the benefits of turning traction control off and the ways you can turn the traction control off. Now it is time to learn how you can turn this traction control on? So, how is this possible?
Well, the traction control is on by default. Meaning that the car is factory preset like this and whenever you turn off the engine, it will come on back again after you start the vehicle.
But if you turn it off and then you want to turn on the traction control you basically follow the same step again by pressing and releasing the TCS button or reactivating this traction control into the menu of the infotainment system.
If you don’t have a button or there is no option to turn on and off this feature, then you probably don’t have it.
On some front-wheel-drive cars, there is no traction control. Mainly because they are often low-power vehicles and it will not make a huge difference if you have traction control or not. It is not like in the case when you drive a rear-wheel-drive car when you risk losing the rear end all the time.
Front-wheel drives are not prone to oversteer and are very little prone to understeer if you drive them as they should be driven and respect the laws on the road. This is why, if you cannot find this option.
You shouldn’t be worried and scratch your head where you can find it. So, we learned the benefits of turning traction control off, now let’s learn if you should turn it off or not?
Should You Turn Off Traction Control On Your Car?
So, we know the benefits of turning traction control off. But should you do this in your car or possibly not?
Well, this rather depends on the circumstances. For example, if you get stuck in the mud or the snow, I would say go for it. In this way, you will be able to recover and get out of this annoying situation.
Other ways, you shouldn’t do it, it is dangerous and you could be sorry for this, especially if you drive a high-performance vehicle.
Problems With TC (Benefits Of Turning Traction Control Off)
Sometimes, the traction control can cause problems. These problems depend on the cause. For example, if you own a Chevy, you can get a message and you will ask yourself what is this “service StabiliTrak” message? You shouldn’t worry, your TC system is having some hard times.
In situations like this, you should investigate things. Grab an OBD2 scanner and scan the car for codes. If there are problems with the speed sensors or other components of the TC system just replace them and you will be good.
Facts about when and why to turn off traction control in your car:
- Most cars produced after 2012 come equipped with traction control, a safety system that helps keep the car from slipping in wet conditions.
- Traction control is operated by speed sensors that detect when the wheels slip and cut power to that wheel to help the car move forward again.
- Turning off traction control can help when your car is stuck in snow or sand because leaving it on might cut power completely.
- In that case, the “rocking” method of reversing and then moving forward can be more effective.
- Traction control can also get in the way when driving up a long and steep snowy hill, causing the wheels to slip and potentially cutting power to them altogether.
- Turning off traction control and driving slowly up the hill may be safer in this case.
- If your car is outfitted with snow tires, snow chains or cables, it can make driving up a snowy hill easier.
- Traction control can be turned off to have fun in a rear-wheel-drive car, but reckless driving or illegal behavior is not condoned.
- Donut or “snow-nut” fun should be done in an empty parking lot.
- Remember to use caution and safety when turning off the traction control for any reason.
Conclusion To Benefits Of Turning Traction Control Off
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to traction control. First, we learned what is traction control, how it works, and from which components this system consists.
Then we learned both the benefits of turning traction control off and the downsides of doing this on your car. Also, we covered the ways how you can turn on and turn off this feature on your car and what you can do if you cannot find it.
F.A.Qs On Benefits Of Turning Traction Control Off
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
What Does TC Mean
TC refers to the traction control system on your car. As its name implies, this system is there to keep the traction of your car in check and prevent the vehicle from sliding when the car oversteer or understeer.
What Does Traction Control Do
Traction control is a safety system. This system was designed to prevent the wheels from losing traction. So, if the system detects that your vehicle is losing traction, it will automatically tell the engine to reduce the throttle and retard the ignition a little bit in order to prevent the vehicle from sliding off.
Why Is My Traction Control Light On
This light could be on because there is something wrong with the TC system. If it flashes, it means that the system is engaging and reacting. If the light is on all the time, then there is probably a defect in one of the speed sensors or a module that controls this system.
Should Traction Control Be On Or Off
It should never be off. Except in cases when you need it to be off, and that is the case when you are stuck in mud or snow, or possibly you are on the race track and want to test your car without these safety systems.
What Would Cause The ABS And Traction Control Light On Come On
In most cases, this problem is caused by either by low brake fluid, problems with the master cylinder. Problems with the wheel speed sensors, or a bad ABS module. These are the most common issues.
How To Reset Traction Control Light
You can reset this light either by using an OBD2 scanner and clearing off all the codes. Or simply by removing the positive terminal and letting it sit in the car like that for a few minutes, then plug everything back in.