How important is traction control and when did it start?

Submitted: Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 10:32
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Hi friends,

I was curious... how important is traction control? I am looking to buy a used 4x4 at some point in the near future, and I know that on-road, traction control is quite valuable. Is it something I should be looking for in a 4x4? We hope to use our 4x4 for a mix of weekend grocery grabbing as well as camping and touring. It won't be used as an everyday, get-to-work car.

Also, when did the following 4x4s get traction control? Like what year, so I know what to look for when I do a used-car search....

Pajero
Prado
Patrol

Thanks!
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 11:20

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 11:20
Traction control began in the nineties with Land Rover.

It was fairly poor system them, I challenged a new Disco to a competition
against my then 1 locker GQ Patrol - if I loose I had to buy the Disco
as an incentive to get the dealer to risk a new car , I won.

Since then the traction control has got better , but still nearly all
those cars use the brakes to achieve this which is a second best system
compared to geared systems like Porsche Cayenne etc.

I rate those traction control systems as about as good as 1 locker.

2 lockers is still the best.

Patrol never had traction control - but it is on Pathfinder R51's.
Robin Miller

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Follow Up By: The Landy - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 11:35

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 11:35
Dearey me the 'glass is half full' syndrome...

A Spin Doctor would have written: Landrover, had the foresight to develop, and improve on a traction control system well ahead of its competition...

;)
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Follow Up By: Batt's - Saturday, Mar 10, 2012 at 14:06

Saturday, Mar 10, 2012 at 14:06
hi robin forgive me for laughing but traction control didn't begin with land rover your about 20yrs out and the yankies came up with it not the pom's
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Reply By: Dereki - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 11:37

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 11:37
Don't confuse traction control with skid control. Traction control is good for off road, skid control for on-road. Most 4wd's that have one, have the other. Skid control is usually disabled when 4wd is engaged. Prado's got traction/skid control in various years depending on the equipment level and option packs as far back as 2004 that I know of, could be earlier. As time went on the lower models got the extras making it hard to give a year. I have no idea about the pajero.

D
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Follow Up By: Kimba10 - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 15:14

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 15:14
Traction control in the prados didnt come out till 1999 when the series two prados were released. I had it in my 01 prado and dont have it in my 05 I have now, do I miss it ?? Yep. Was great for off road and mine had stability sontrol as well been the grande and it was handy as well. Like anything you drive to the conditions but in saying that I have had both intervene at some stage, the traction control especially off road which was great, as Robin said not as good as lockers but got me a whole heap further then I would of without it..........
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Reply By: Stevesub1 - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 11:47

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 11:47
We have had 2 Landrover products with Traction Control and yes, it is good BUT sand is their undoing. We got stuck many times due to the brakes coming on in sand because the wheels were spinning slightly, then stuck.

However those vehicles would be arpound 10/12 years old now and there have been advances since then.

We have led a club trip in our Troopy with 6 landrovers na few years ago, all with traction control including Disco 3's where the Troopy was the only vehicle to climb a particular steep sandy hill - and we do not have diff locks or traction control. All the LR vehciles could not make it due to the traction control.

The same trip, we towed a dead LR off the beach through approx 100m of soft sand with no problems, all the LR's in the group had to make 2 or more attempts and they were not towing.

We left that club soon after that trip. You should have heard the uproar in the magazine about a mongrel non LR vehicle on that trip even though we owned a Rangie at that time but preferred to use the Troopy off road.

On another trip when the Rangie Sport had just came out, a dealer was driving a demo sport on the beach with soft sand and complained about the lack of go and the smoke from the wheels. The brakes were on all the time due to the traction control. I told him just keep it above 50kph as the traction control does not work above 40 or 50kph in the vehicle. Too bad if the beach had a 30kph speed limit.

Yes, traction control has it place, I love it in our Camry and keeps me out of a lot of trouble, it has its uses off road but it is also a pain as it is not perfect offroad and can create its own set of problems.

Stevesub
AnswerID: 479874

Follow Up By: Reggie B - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 12:10

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 12:10
in cases like this, it was my understanding that there would be a button to turn traction control off... is this true?

I know there isn't much snow here in Australia, but where I grew up I was also under the impression that traction control should be turned off when trying to get out of stuck situation in the snow (but kept on when normal driving in snowy conditions). Is this similar to sand?
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Follow Up By: Stevesub1 - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 12:15

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 12:15
In the case of our now older Landrovers, NO, you cannot turn it off.

I never drove in the snow with traction control, only sand and plenty of it.

Stevesub
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 13:12

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 13:12
Sounds like your late model landie drivers left their stability control on and had the wrong TR setting. Leaving DSC on will cut power once slip is detected so it must be turned off - not a traction control issue.
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Follow Up By: Kimba10 - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 15:21

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 15:21
Yeah Id go with garrycol, there is a big difference. I had stabilty and traction on the diesel prado grande I had and as soon as you locked H4 the stability automatically turned off but the traction controll stayed activated (can turn both on and off as you like now in the new 150 prados) I never had any issue with traction control in the sand and some of it was extremely soft, in fact it saved me from burying myself one day, as soon as it activated it was because the vehicle was trying to dig to china, wacked it in low range and gave it a gutfull and she drove straight out the hole, as garry has said with stabillity still on it will zap any power as the computer is thinking the vehicle is unstable and trying to rectify itself, my neighbour has the same issue with his exceed pajero...
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Reply By: andoland - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 12:08

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 12:08
I have a vehicle with traction control and stability control. Let me give you a real world example of where it did its job, albeit this case the stability control rather than traction control, alhtough I believe most vehicles that have one now have the other.

We were driving along the Great Central Road last year in the rain. The road was wet (obviously) but the surface was good and not slippery. The vehicle in our group travelling ahead of us called over the radio that he had hit a sudden clay patch and immediatly slid to the right and was very lucky not to have an accident. We came across his wheel tracks and he was literally a few centimetres from the table drain and had fishtailed all over the place before regaining control.

We hit the same patch of clay as he was literally talking on the radio telling us the story and we started sliding to the left. The stability control did its thing and we straightened up immediately, no fishtailing, washed off some speed and carried on.

I'm not suggesting it eliminates the need to be vigilant and drive to the conditions but showing an example of the real world benefits.

On the same trip we drove the Canning Stock Route. On the dunes I turned the traction control and stability control off as they are counterproductive in this circumstance.

I haven't had a chance to try the traction control in any other terrain but from videos and write ups I have seen I believe it is very effective.

Like any other tool or driving aid (including diff locks) it has its application and you will get the most from it by knowing when to use it and when not to. I would highly recommend it.
AnswerID: 479877

Reply By: vk1dx - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 13:23

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 13:23
We do not have traction control and personally I do not want it. I want to be in charge of the car. I can also see what's ahead and therefore plan for it a lot better than any traction control can. I can also add in compression breaking if and when I believe that it's beneficial. I can also use the hand brake as well.

For those who like it, that's fine. We prefer not to have it. I have tried it and for my money it is no where near as good as a driver who knows how to go downhill properly.

It's like automatic wipers. Fine if the windscreen is clean (no greasy road grime on it) but if they were to automatically turn on in a sun shower with you heading towards the sun then you would be blind. Nothing worse than a greasy windscreen, rain and the sunshine.

Less automation the better for my money.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Kimba10 - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 15:33

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 15:33
"" I have tried it and for my money it is no where near as good as a driver who knows how to go downhill properly. "" traction control isnt activated on a down hill run ?? this is where hill decent is activated (if you have it). Traction control will have a massive advantage over any 4wd with out it. Had 4 4wd's prior with out it, had one with it now back to one without it, big difference. Been off roading for 27 years so have plent of experiance in regards to decents (especially Vic High country) and climbing. If its available and you can afford the extra $$ to get the model with it then for me its worth every cent, same as stability control two totally different things. Again every one to their own but for me the next one will again have it, spending 2k on a rear locker which still leaves the front open still isnt as good as having traction control all round for off roading.............
""We do not have traction control and personally I do not want it. I want to be in charge of the car. I can also see what's ahead and therefore plan for it a lot better than any traction control can"" this is not traction control here this is stability control taking over...................................
""I can also add in compression breaking if and when I believe that it's beneficial. I can also use the hand brake as well."" yes and if driving ahead this can be done but in emergency situations nothing will beat ABS and/or stability control...............
""It's like automatic wipers"" totally agree with you extremely dangerous I think.........

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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 15:51

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 15:51
Yep I had the wrong control.

Phil
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 15:54

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 15:54
Phil - you clearly do not know much about Traction Control (are you getting mixed up with Hill Decent Control).

No special advance work required with traction control - you drive as you have indicated you do - but if you stuff up it then kicks in - up to the point of stopping you do not drive the vehicle any different to any old vehicle - traction control does not plan ahead - the driver does.

It does nothing more than providing a bit of breaking effort to a spinning wheel.

Garry
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 17:37

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 17:37
Sorry Phil - our follow ups crossed
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 18:16

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 18:16
I think the difference is that I want to drive my car. I want to take it into difficult spots and drive out. Don't get me wrong I am not into extreeme or definitely not a hoon. I will go through mud if needed but like a lot of the younger brigade I do not go looking for it.

So I don't want the car to drive itself down hill.

As for traction control: The last time I slid anywhere was in mid 1970 on Concord Road, Rhodes outside a factory when a truck had lost a heap of fuel. So did all the other cars around me. Even the cops had a slip.

Personally I do not have any need for it. If it was an option on a car that I was buying I would say no.

That's why we say we do not want it for our 4WD nor the house car. You have what you want. And that is why wI say that it is not necessary as are automatic gearboxes.

Phil
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 18:39

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 18:39
Oops That should have read: "I will go through mud if needed but UNLIKE a lot of the younger brigade I do not go looking for it".

Phil
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Reply By: MrBitchi (QLD) - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 13:53

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 13:53
Traction control is great when off road. A car with TC will go just as far, if not further, than a car with diff locks. Diff locks will not stop wheel spin, TC will.

IMO it's off road where it shines, not on road. On road is where ESP (electronic stability control) has it's place.

Later model Pajero's, from about 2005, have both systems. The ESP can be turned off, the TC can't, but it's the ESP that brings you unstuck in sand, not TC.
AnswerID: 479887

Follow Up By: MrBitchi (QLD) - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 13:58

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 13:58
If you want to see TC in action check this out...

Pajero on powerlines track

And bear in mind it's being driven by a novice driver...
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 17:38

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 17:38
Lets not got too carried away - ? Traction Control is great but not quite as good as diff locks.
TC relies on one wheel having more traction than the other and if both are in the slop and spinning TC will not activate and you have both wheels spinning.

Late model Discoverys have full TC systems and some also have an OEM rear diff lock as well - the difflock equipped Discos are superior offroad than just the TC equipped versions.
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Follow Up By: MrBitchi (QLD) - Friday, Mar 09, 2012 at 08:39

Friday, Mar 09, 2012 at 08:39
"both are in the slop and spinning TC will not activate and you have both wheels spinning. "

Just like if you had diff locks ;)

In this scenario, as long as at least one wheel had some traction, front OR rear, TC would indeed activate and give you some chance.

Not saying it's the only answer but it's far better than many give it credit for, and of course it's fully automatic and on all the time, making it a much better option for most drivers.
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Follow Up By: Member - Paul B (WA) - Saturday, Mar 10, 2012 at 17:12

Saturday, Mar 10, 2012 at 17:12
That video clip of the Pajero on the power line track is very impressive & would seem to explain my 07 NS Pajero's off road performance which seems quite good to me.

Thanks for posting it.
Paul B Kalgoorlie

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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 14:14

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 14:14
With the prados., Traction Control first appeared in 2001 on the 90series Grande . Unfortunately the prados with traction control couldn't go on far in sand as those without. They would bog down too easily because the braking of odd wheels was happening at times when you just wanted momentum.
AnswerID: 479890

Follow Up By: Kimba10 - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 18:37

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 18:37
Hi there Phil you could actually get it as an option in 2000 on the GXL, I thought it was standard on GXL but was an option (series 2). Funny how some people have issues with different things. I never ever had issues with mine even on soft sand (01 grande turbo diesel), when I locked centre diff lock the stability was turned off automatic but stability you couldnt turn off not like the 150 now where you have full control wether any of it is on or off. Definately worth having which I dont have on my current prado......wish I did, would save me 2k on a rear diff lock which Im getting fitted...............
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 19:59

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 19:59
Kimba, yes you're right - I didn't realise it was an option on some GXLs. I just looked up two Prado brochures I still have lying around in the filing cabinet:
First one dated 1/3/2000 said it was "standard fitment on VX and Grande. Option pack on GXL petrol" then a second brochure from 2002 says "standard fitment on TX auto, VX and Grande auto. Option on GXL models with auto transmission"

Back at the time I spent a lot of time doing sand driving with the 4wd club. Saw the traction controlled prados next to the ones without and there was a difference in the soft sand. Worst vehicle we saw waas a series 2 Disco with Landrover's first attempt at traction control and it was really bad!
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Reply By: Member - Captain (WA) - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 15:39

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 15:39
There are many different versions of traction/stability control depending on manufacturer and model. But overall they fall into two main types;

- stability control is very useful both on and off-road, but generally used at higher speeds. Simplistically, it relies on the sensors detecting that the vehicle is not travelling where the front wheels are pointing. It corrects this by braking indvidual wheels and reducing engine power as appropriate.

- traction control is mainly used off-road, but can be useful on-road when taking off on a slippery spot. It is very effective in late model vehicles, earlier models perhaps not so good. - have been improvements over time. As mentioned earlier, it can also be a hinderance on soft sand as it brakes wheels and you lose momentum. But virtually all vehicles these days enable you to switch traction control off as required. I have had both traction control and diff locked vehicles and while a diff lock is ultimately better, the newer versions of traction control are ~80% as good as lockers - to the point I have not fitted lockers to my latest 4WD.

Other features are crawl or downhill descent control. Crawl control is like slow speed cruise control, but simply holds the vehicle at a slow speed (~3 km/hr) and works both up and down hills. Downhill descent control only works downhill and applies the brakes. It can outperform ANY driver as it can brake individual wheels, something the driver cannot do. It can prevent and correct a sideways slide by braking the indvidual wheel. It is not a substitute for proper driver training, but it can make a poor driver look good!

Must a 4x4 have these aids? Well no, you can do without them, but its a bit like airbags - would you want to buy a near new 4WD and not have the safety advantages of airbags - of course not. So why buy a newish 4x4 and not have the electronic traction aids now available?

Cheers

Captain
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Reply By: Member - nick b - Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 22:58

Thursday, Mar 08, 2012 at 22:58
I must be from the old school , sounds like it would take all the fun out of what you can do as a "Real Driver"...


cheers nick
Cheers Nick b
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Reply By: Member - Minty (SA) - Friday, Mar 09, 2012 at 22:04

Friday, Mar 09, 2012 at 22:04
There are two main types of traction control.
- the earlier type and generally not used on 4x4s...monitors wheel spin through the ABS and other sensors. If spin is picked the motor is retarded thus inhibiting spin. Makes my missus old Beemer feel like a wet rag when you plant the right wellie, fortunately it can be turned off...while leaving the stability control on.
- the later version on 4x4s is mentioned above...basically brakes the spinning wheel to transfer torque to the wheel that has the traction. I heard that earlier H1s had two handbrakes to make this happen manually but I cannot validate this info.



AnswerID: 480008

Reply By: Bush Wanderer - Friday, Mar 09, 2012 at 23:57

Friday, Mar 09, 2012 at 23:57
A little off topic to the original question, but down south over christmas I saw a Discovery 4 make a 5 inch lifted patrol gu with rear diff lock and 35's look like it was driven by a learner driver. This driver of the patrol had a lot of experience and he too was blown away....we all were. The patrol could not make the climb, where the discovery crawled up and over with virtually no wheel spin. My mates patrol shot stones and dirt everywhere to no avail. The discovery had factory tyres and also the factory diff lock.

Traction control seems to have come a long way.
AnswerID: 480020

Reply By: Batt's - Saturday, Mar 10, 2012 at 03:56

Saturday, Mar 10, 2012 at 03:56
stick to basics and learn how to drive a 4wdrive properly without all of the unessary aids that will hardley ever get used and will cause more problem with your hip pocket if you need something get a diff lock no computer required and no computer means you don't have to worry about water deptso much
AnswerID: 480026

Follow Up By: Reggie B - Saturday, Mar 10, 2012 at 12:26

Saturday, Mar 10, 2012 at 12:26
I thought all cars had computers nowadays? Are they not sealed? I won't be fording any rivers anytime soon, but I didn't realize computer was something I had to worry about in terms of water depth?
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Follow Up By: Batt's - Saturday, Mar 10, 2012 at 13:55

Saturday, Mar 10, 2012 at 13:55
when I had a 2001 disco the owners manual like most other manuals had the maximum fording depth written in it because of the location of the computer the air intake was ok but the cd stacker was under the drivers seat better check you handbook even old cars have limits mainly because of the alternator air intake diff breathers and because of leaky door seals like my 93 patrol. but the main thing is step back and look at all the extra aids they put on cars now really how often will they get used probably never by the average person but they feel indestructable with them that's why I've went back to a basic 4x4 years ago I didn't have the confidence with a modern car which turns the traction contol on if you turn into your driveway to fast and faulty abs sensor and faulty hill decent glad I sold the heap don't need computers to drive off road just common sense
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Reply By: landseka - Saturday, Mar 10, 2012 at 16:06

Saturday, Mar 10, 2012 at 16:06
Even in F1 Motor Racing all the driver 'aids' have been removed so now the driver actually 'drives' the car.

In the days of Launch Control, Traction Control, Stability Control et-al it was getting to be that any trained monkey could drive F1 as all he had to do was turn the starter key, computers did the rest. Now the driver has to do some work.

My '07 ML Triton had no aids but my '10 MN does have ATC and ESC. The ESC has a turn off switch on the dash and I have found it better in sand with it switched off.

Cheers Neil.
AnswerID: 480055

Follow Up By: Reggie B - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 10:53

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 10:53
If you have a car with traction control, stability control, etc... is it still possible to lift it and put on (slightly) bigger wheels? I heard that it might mess up the electronics...
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Reply By: Reggie B - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 11:03

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 11:03
If you have a car with traction control, stability control, etc... is it still possible to lift it and put on (slightly) bigger wheels? I heard that it might mess up the electronics...
AnswerID: 481326

Follow Up By: garrycol - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 13:53

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 13:53
Yes - the electronics will normally not be a limiting factor.

Garry
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Follow Up By: Reggie B - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 19:50

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 19:50
What about speedometer when changing wheel sizes, is that affected?
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 20:07

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 20:07
Yes - but on some cars the computer may have setting to set tyre size.

Garry
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