Can i drive with the esc off?

If your ESC was manually deactivated, there is a button on your car that you can use to reactivate it. If you are not sure where this button is located on your vehicle, consult your owner's manual. Of course, if the ESC light comes on, you can continue to drive your car. Popular opinion holds that ESC is just another babysitter, something that ruins the fun of driving.

However, for most people, it could save their lives. It is true that ESC, at least in calibration for road use, will not allow you to drive as fast as if it were turned off or set to sport mode. The reason is something called slippage; every time a vehicle goes around a corner it is, ever so slightly, slipping. Yes, even the Camry's grandfather.

The faster you drive, the greater the slip, and there is an optimum level of slip for every car, tyre and surface: too little and you'll be slow, too much and you'll be slow but spectacular. ESC, by design, does not allow cars to reach their optimum slip level for top speed on any surface, so it is slower. The ESC will flash if you are going through a corner too fast. The light goes out under normal driving conditions.

Since electronic stability control is essentially an extension of ABS and TCS, it is normally safe to drive a vehicle that has a malfunctioning ESC. Electronic stability control systems consist of a series of sensors that compare the driver's input with the way the vehicle actually moves. However, despite being literally a paying petrolhead, I strongly disagree with switching off ESC on public roads, and would even go so far as to argue that insurance should invalidate if it is found to be disabled and that leaving it on could have prevented or mitigated the accident. For reference, the average novice track rat is 30 seconds per lap or more off the pace, and the average advanced black group driver with 50 weekends under their belt is three to five seconds off the pace.

I can speak from some experience here, having spent a bit of time in the left instructional seat at race tracks with "ESC all public road enthusiasts. ESC can also be activated when using a spare tyre with a different diameter to the rest of the car's tyres. I don't track this figure as obsessively as I do the total number of races or different circuits I've driven, but after a few late-night spreadsheets, I'm reasonably sure that I've now trained over 500 novice drivers on some kind of circuit. It is possible to get a car into a slight skid with all the tyres screeching and no ESC activation if you are gentle enough.

I tell them that the day will come when they can drive a car with no computer assistance at all, like a Spec Miata, on a race track, and on that day they will wish they had some of that intervention back. Electronic stability control (ESC) may also be called electronic stability programme (ESP) or dynamic stability control (DSC). Otherwise, they will go off the track and down the long grassy hill known as the Rollercoaster. You can search by vehicle year and make, to see a list of which models have ESC as a standard or optional feature, plus which models do not have ESC as an option at all.

So ESC should never be a limiting factor, and if it does come into play, chances are you are not being smooth enough with the controls, or your technique is incorrect. The reason ESC is so effective is simple: no one in the history of driving can control a car like the ESC computers. Let's call them the three horsemen of the early track day apocalypse, as many a BMW M or Corvette driver has experienced. Time and time again I have seen them enter a corner too fast, brake and turn in at the same time, overload the front tyres, and mess up the balance of the car to the point where the ESC light flashes like a Morse code device in the hands of Eddie Van Halen.

Georgia Wolley
Georgia Wolley

Subtly charming tv scholar. Proud social media expert. Lifelong beeraholic. Typical pop culture guru. Incurable social media fan. Total internet maven.