What does electronic stability control do in a car?

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is a revolutionary technology available on newer cars. It helps keep the vehicle on the right track and ultimately reduces the risk of accidents and crashes due to oversteer or understeer. The dashboard light can have multiple meanings, so it is important to understand how your particular system works. Generally, the light will illuminate when the computer is actively trying to maintain control.

This light will remain on only as long as the vehicle is not under control. If the light stays on constantly, it is likely that a malfunction has been detected or the system has been manually shut down. There are times when it is necessary to turn off the stability control, but you can leave it on most of the time. You may see it advertised with terms such as Vehicle Stability Assist (Acura), AdvanceTrac (Ford), StabiliTrak (General Motors) or Vehicle Dynamic Control (Nissan), among others.

Stability control uses components and sensors from other vehicle safety features, such as anti-lock brakes (ABS). While Electronic Stability Control can help you maintain control of your vehicle, it cannot do everything for you. The system is very effective, and Transport Canada studies suggest a 29% reduction in crashes caused by drivers losing control because of it. Like ABS, the Electronic Stability Control programme monitors wheel spin rate and other parameters such as steering angle.

If one wheel is spinning faster, which may indicate that it is on a slippery surface, the traction control system will activate the brakes on that wheel, and can also momentarily reduce engine power, helping the spinning wheel to regain its grip. To help you out of it, it uses some or all of the components of the ABS and traction control systems, including braking specific wheels and reducing engine power to bring everything back in line with the direction of the wheels, and the driver back in control of the vehicle. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) came about as a result of the advancement of anti-lock braking systems (ABS) over the years. Anti-lock brakes do the same thing, but electronically apply and release much faster than any driver can, helping to keep the vehicle stable when stopped.

Any problems that prevent the stability control from working should also be addressed as soon as possible. If you are driving in slippery conditions and the light keeps illuminating, reduce speed to make the car easier to control.

Georgia Wolley
Georgia Wolley

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