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Traction Control On/off?


Tousij2
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Here is something to ponder ... On the snowy day (about 1 inch snow on ground) that I bumped my car, I was driving down a slope at 8 to 10 mph and could not stop even after I applied full brakes 25 feet before impact. The Trac, VSC ... everything went active before the impact. It was like the car took over and failed to do the job! I suspect the the poor snow traction of Michelin MXV4 tires had something to do with it too. Later on when I tried to drive up that same slope I couldn't climb and the car kept on slipping again with trac active sign coming on. After 4 tries I switched OFF the trac and was quite surprised to see the car climb in one go ... which made me wonder if trac on was actually detrimental in this scenerio?

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Here is something to ponder ... On the snowy day (about 1 inch snow on ground) that I bumped my car, I was driving down a slope at 8 to 10 mph and could not stop even after I applied full brakes 25 feet before impact. The Trac, VSC ... everything went active before the impact. It was like the car took over and failed to do the job! I suspect the the poor snow traction of Michelin MXV4 tires had something to do with it too. Later on when I tried to drive up that same slope I couldn't climb and the car kept on slipping again with trac active sign coming on. After 4 tries I switched OFF the trac and was quite surprised to see the car climb in one go ... which made me wonder if trac on was actually detrimental in this scenerio?

A few things here:

TRAC or Treaction Control prevents the drive wheels from spinning on slippery surfaces (i.e. water/snow/ice). Driving up an icy slope is likely to cause some wheel slippage which engages the TRAC feature which slows/stops/disengages the drive wheels which prevents you from climbing the hill. I had ASR (TRAC) on my C Class (RWD) and I could never get going anywhere in the snow from a stop (or uphill) until i turned it off. I usually put it back on after I gained some momentum because free-spinning wheels are never good when you are looking for traction.

VSC is stability control/skid control where the car senses an impending loss of control and puts the brakes on one or more wheels to try to keep the car from losing control. It is not quite the same as TRAC and it also works on the non-drive wheels.

Like you mentioned - even with all those nice features it ultimately comes down to the tires. If your tires are sliding on the ice/snowpack then no TRAC, VSC, or heavy braking would have helped you. Applying the brakes heavily on ice/snowpack probably made the situation worse in that your wheels locked up and had no chance of gaining traction and allowing you to steer the car away from whatever it was that you bumped. You probably would have been better off in that condition turning the TRAC off and dropping the car to a lower gear in hopes of getting some traction and using the transmission (in combination w/ what little traction you could get) as your brake.

Heavy braking in the snow/ice is worthless. You could be going strainght at 20 MPH, jam on the brakes, and turn the wheel hard to the L or R and you'd still be going straight. I would suggest that the next time it snows you visit an empty parking lot and play around with the different control system combinations so you will know what to expect and gain a better feel for how your car handles in the snow.

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