Electronic Traction Control - service life?

Submitted: Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 15:41
ThreadID: 68815 Views:2558 Replies:6 FollowUps:2
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Has anyone ever encountered any problems due to the traction control system overworking the ABS pump?

Here's the detailed reason why I ask:

I was looking at a replacement for the Jackaroo and basically narrowed it down to the Prado or Pathfinder. I notice that many of these newer vehicles use ETC (electronic traction control) which I understand uses the ABS system to apply the brakes to any wheel that loses traction which effectively transfers more torque to any wheels that still have traction and helps the car to keep driving. However, I have a concern with this setup, particularly since the Pathfinder has independent suspension on all four corners, therefore more likely to lift wheels in rough terrain, and therefore more likely to rely on ETC.

My understanding (possibly incorrect) is the the ABS pump is a very hard working device and designed with a service life of around 2 hours continuous/cumulative use. For most people, this doesn't cause a problem because they're unlikely to ever need more than 2 hours of cumulative panic braking (although it has been an issue for people who have bought ex-Police pursuit cars). However, it raises the question that if the traction control uses the same ABS pump, you could quite easily use it continuously/cumulatively for more than 2 hours on a single decent 4WDing expedition.
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Reply By: Ozhumvee - Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 15:47

Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 15:47
Can't help with the ABS pump but your thinking sounds reasonable.
What is often overlooked though is that all these systems apply the brakes which leads to premature wear and in some cases a very short service life for brake pads especially when you are driving through wet slurry = grinding paste.
Lots of late model vehicles require new discs with a pad change too, starts to get expensive.
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Follow Up By: Member - Teege (NSW) - Friday, May 15, 2009 at 09:08

Friday, May 15, 2009 at 09:08
"Lots of late model vehicles require new discs with a pad change too, starts to get expensive. " I've never heard of this before. Can you please elaborate? Are you suggesting that these vehicles require new discs every time you change the pads? I have certainly heard of the occasional situation where the pads wear down so low that there is metal to metal contact with the discs which might - just might - require replacement.

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Follow Up By: 944runner - Friday, May 15, 2009 at 09:14

Friday, May 15, 2009 at 09:14
Yep this is correct. Just had my second car a Holden Vectra serviced and the first time he pads have been changed, they advised the discs had to be replaced to. did some research and found most new european type vehicles use a very soft compound steel in the discs and they wear out just as quick as the pads, therefore making the need to change disc rotors every time the pads are replaced. My Vectra just clicked over 90,000 km's. Change the rear discs and pads came to approx $500 one damn expensive brake pad change.
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Reply By: Mandrake - Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 15:59

Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 15:59
According to my Jeep drivers manual - Jeeps have ERM -
Electronic Roll Mitigation - same thing as ETC -- and it states quite clearly that it ONLY operates during severe or evasive driving maneuvres and will not operate solely on changing road conditions ...

quote " It can not prevent wheel lift due to other factors such as road conditions , leaving the roadway or striking objects or other vehicles " !!!

I'm happy


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Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 16:27

Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 16:27
The NM/NP pajero had traction introduced as standard a few years ago.
I was looking at upgrading from my NJ and read reports of the system 'failing', i.e. going into non operation mode after a time in sand.

Did read a test report by one of the magazines a few years ago about it. They left the tyre pressures high for soft sand and worked the vehicle hard to work the traction control. Took about 30 mins to bog the car, this is intentionally creating the problem. Mitsubishi engineers have been rumoured to have recreated the problem. Let the system cool down and reset it itself and the car drove out of the problem.

However, if due care is taken to reduce tyre pressures and not expect the system to do all the hard work making up for a poor driver, the traction control works well. But as can be seen, it is not 'fool' proof.
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 16:43

Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 16:43
Hi Tim

Yep that is an issue , and agree with posts about limiting the work done by the ETC.

To this end the Prado is the better car to buy because the real issue is cars that rely on ETC because of limited wheel articulation.

The prado has significantly best articulation of those cars.

For all cars so fitted one should use tall tyres with lower pressures where possible so that tyre increases articulation.

Also get lockers where one can.

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Reply By: garrycol - Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 18:02

Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 18:02
I have never heard anywhere about ABS pumps only having a life of 2 hours - maybe an old wife's tale as plenty of 4wds have ETC and have no issues. With continued use the pump can get hot and loose effectiveness but letting it cool brings it back.

Regular brake fluid changes are important for ABS pump life as contaminates can kill them.

My Freelander has 4 channel ABS/TC, also has hill decent that uses the same systems and is independent suspension - is 12 years old and covered 260,000km and gets used off road and the ETC is in constant use when offroad.

Only changes to the ABS/ETC/HDC have been fluid and pad/shoe changes and it is still running strong.

I do not think any concerns about ABS pump life are an issue.

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Reply By: Member - Teege (NSW) - Friday, May 15, 2009 at 08:53

Friday, May 15, 2009 at 08:53
My Prado is nearly 9 years old now and has done a fair bit of work where the ETC has cut in. On one occasion, coming up a very long, steep, loose incline, where the ETC had been in constant use, I got a loud beeping sound. Stopped immediately, as a last resort read the owner's manual. The ETC has an automatic cutoff when it overheats - the beep was simply a warning that the ETC was no longer working. After 5 minutes we took off again and the ETC was working again and got us to the top of the hill. Other than that one time I have never had a problem. My Prado is automatic and has a centre diff lock which I had not engaged on that occasion - definitely should have!!! The length of the climb snuck up on me. Experience has shown that engaging the diff lock reduces the frequency of the ETC cutting in (please dont ask me why - I haven't got a clue!!!). The ETC has an indicator on the dash which shows when it is operating and which wheel/s are being affected. Sometimes it looks like a christmas tree with all the lights flashing on and off. I love it!!! Often when we are out on club trips we will go up a loose steep hill and everyone else is revving hard and throwing rocks everywhere, when my turn comes I can just drive up slowly, confident that the ETC will ensure that I maintain forward motion.

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