Electronic Traction Control

Electronic Stability Control Explained

Today’s electronic traction control system extends the ABS brake system and adds torque management, reducing engine power to prevent wheel spin. It uses many of the same components found in ABS. For example, ESC automatically applies individual brake units when it senses the vehicle’s about to bulldoze ahead or spin out of control.

When the steering does not match the direction the vehicle is traveling in, the system automatically kicks into action. First, the control module monitors steering, wheel speed, and yaw rate sensors. Then, if an emergency like a sudden swerve or an over or understeer occurs, it applies brake units and reduces engine speed until the driver regains control.

ESC light

The system has many aliases: ESP Electronic Stability Program, TCS Traction Control System, etc. It can be disabled for driving in mud, snow, or sand. A warning light stays illuminated until the driver pushes a switch or button, reactivating the system. Deactivating the traction control program disables skid control.