I pit traction control (minor rant)

I have an '07 Saturn Ion 2, overall, it’s a decent car, reliable, if a little mundane and boring, but it gets me reliably from point a to point b

It does have a feature I have quickly grown to LOATHE, and that feature is "Traction Reduction…err “Control” "

Since my Ion is a manual transmission model, TC is especially primitive, all it does is reduce engine RPM, and (i think) modulate braking to prevent wheelspin, even worse, it’s set to on by default

What caused this minor rant, well, a couple days ago, we had some snow flurries (about 12" of snow) while I was at work, when I drove home and pulled into the unplowed driveway at the end of the day, I got stuck on a slight incline (yes, even with snow tires), I couldn’t progress more than halfway up the driveway, so, I backed out to the street, turned TC OFF, and drove forward again, aside from some minor wheelspin, I was able to pull forward to the end of the driveway and park without a problem…

Ironically, TC actually got me stuck!

The next day, on my day off, I went to my rod and gun club to test out a used rifle I had picked up (Marlin 60 .22LR), the R&G club has a very steep drive leading to it, it had been freshly plowed, yes, you guessed it, as I climbed the drive, TC kicked in, and almost got me stuck, I stopped, turned off TC, and on the incline, was able to get back under way and drive the rest of the way up the drive to the shooting range…

TC got me stuck AGAIN!

I frakkin’ HATE TC, there has to be a way to reprogram the Ion’s computer so that TC is set to OFF by default, just a simple binary switch is all that’s likely needed, “When Engine Start, TC = OFF”, how hard would that be to do?

Frak you, TC

TC definitely saved my bacon on one occasion and perhaps a couple more that were less clear.

That it saved my car and, more importantly, me injury or death I simply cannot get on board Pitting TC.

If I get stuck once in awhile because of it that is a small price to pay for saving my life even once.

Agreed - TC often does exactly the opposite of what it is supposed to.
The same applies for ABS. It’s shit in the snow. I can stop my car in much less distance and with more control by gently pumping the brakes.

I’m sorry, but IMHO, any feature that takes control AWAY from the driver should not be trusted, in the case of a manual transmission Ion/Cobalt/G5, all TC does is reduce engine RPM and perhaps modulates braking, reducing control of the vehicle, on an automatic version of the same car, it can also change the gearing to reduce wheelspin, and IIRC, that’s the first thing it tries, is up or down-gearing the transmission (similar to a manual driver starting off in 2nd gear in slippery conditions to reduce torque-induced wheelspin), then it tries brake modulation, and finally, reducing RPM

Manual TC, OTOH kicks in when the wheels start to spin and can rob whatever forward momentum you have gained, that seems potentially dangerous to me

Example, you’re pulling across traffic to get into the opposite lane of travel, traffic is bearing down on you from a distance, as your car’s nose enters the lane of travel, you encounter a patch of black ice that starts the wheels spinning, TC kicks in,reducing engine RPM, reducing acceleration and reducing your forward momentum, just when you need it most with other vehicles bearing down on you…


Antilock, OTOH, I have no problem with, that’s saved me a couple times, besides, all antilock does is pump the brakes faster than a human can, it doesn’t take control away from the driver like TC does

No “Nannyware” on my car, please

My wife had an Olds Alero with TC. We parked in a temporary lot that was loose sandy dirt. When we got back to the car, it had sunk in a little. I put it in reverse, and no matter how much gas I gave, the TC kept bogging the engine. It wouldn’t develop enough power for the car to climb up out of the pockets it had sunk into.

Hit the TC button and backed out easily.

Yeah, frak that noise. Frak it hard!

My 2002 Pontiac has TCS and like your Saturn the default is set to ‘always on’ unless you hit the switch to turn it off.

I purchased a small module that plugs in behind the stock switch that reverses the default to ‘always off’. That way I only turn it on a couple times a year at my descretion. The only downfall is that the TCS OFF light on the dash stays lit, which is a little annoying until you get used to it.

You could search on a Saturn forum and probably find the same thing.

With the traction control on, sometimes you’ll get stuck when it could have been avoided. With the traction control off, sometimes you’ll spin the wheels and drive into a telephone poll or a ditch.

I think it’s on by default because the consequences are less severe.

I have it on my car, also a manual transmission. Sometimes in the snow I find an empty parking lot and practice sliding around a little bit, trying out the TC on or off. Or if I need to make a U-turn in the snow, I’ll turn it off and goose the throttle during the turn to bring the back end around. Apart from that, I leave it on and it’s never been a problem.

Yeah…they put these on cars because they make driving MORE dangerous. :rolleyes:

You may be able to hypothetical up some unlikely situations where TC/ABS might be a drawback but the fact is there are FAR more times when they are an aid. In most situations where it is a drawback it is not an emergency and you can turn it off.

And unless you convince me you are a professional driver whose attention never wavers and are instantly alert to any condition and know the exact right moves to perform in that situation chances are the car/computer are a LOT faster and respond more appropriately to a loss of control than you would.

Typical human hubris to think THEY are more capable and taking control away from them just has to be a Bad Idea[sup]tm[/sup].

I would have no problem giving up control if the replacement actually worked.

In the snow my ABS brake too hard and pump the brake too fast putting the car into a slide. The dealer has checked them out and they are operating “correctly”. There is no switch to turn them off.

I don’t think it’s hubris to want to be able to control of my car safely.

Ooooohhhhh…… I am so in agreement. I have an 06 Pathfinder. Traction control has screwed me up more than once. Thank god I can turn it off, but it comes on as a default.

Gotta turn it off to get up my driveway in winter. Otherwise, ZERO POWER FOR YOU! HA!

And getting on the highway is dangerous with it. Note: I have to make a hairpin left uphill turn from a gravel road to pavement. Often this is covered in snow. I’ll only do it when no cars are coming on the highway, but visibility is bad. Often, I forget to turn the VDC off and as soon as I do just a wee bit of wheel spin ZERO POWER FOR YOU! And now I have somebody come around a corner at 60 mph uphill barreling down on me and I can’t ‘punch it’. Sucks. Prevents you from putting your car in a proper slide in a turn. Even if it’ a little bit. It is often needed on snow. Snow drivers know about this.

Turning back onto my gravel road used to be easy in snow. Slow down, set it up, goose it a little to bring the rear end around and away you go. Now, I’ve got to slow down to nearly nothing on a highway and hope that I’m not either rear ended or the VDS sends me right into the ditch because I have no control.

I feel pretty much the same about ABS. Doesn’t really work for shit. Coming down my drive the other day, my ABS kicked in but the car would not stop. Just chattered along. If I was able to completely lock my brakes, and have control, I’m sure I would stop. For a person that knows how to drive in snow, and does it nearly every day, both systems suck.

I hope you are joking.

No, I’m not. Hell, in fly-by-wire jets the computer is doing the flying. Some fighter jets are inherently unstable and without the computer and sensors making adjustments a human would be unable to fly the plane. So, clearly computer systems can easily surpass a human’s ability to control a vehicle.

A properly working TC/ABS is more sensitive and faster to respond than a human. There is a reason these things are put on cars around the world. They are safety systems and make you more safe because they work better than the vast majority of drivers do. Of course, most people think “they” are one of the uber drivers for whom no system could be superior.

Agreed, I can compensate just fine for wheelspin in snowy conditions, when I floor it and the wheels start spinning, if uncorrected, the car’s front end starts sliding to the right, so, to compensate, I turn the wheels to the left, they’re still spinning rapidly, yet I’m going straight, and I still have more forward momentum than with TC “helping”, once I feel the car starting to move left, I straighten the wheel and let up on the gas until the traction returns

I practice snow handling in empty parking lots, forcing skids and such deliberately, I KNOW how my car will react in slippery conditions far better than a simple computer program designed to simply reduce power to spinning wheels, and I can react quicker to unexpected events with more responses than simply “reduce power to wheels”

simply put, I KNOW how my car will handle with TC deactivated, with it on, it’s too unpredictable

Keep in mind, my car’s TC system is a simple “reduce power” TC system, maybe the truly advanced TC systems work, but my simple, primitive TC system causes more problems than it solves

In some cases these systems help, in others they don’t.
It’s not irrational and egotistical to recognize this.

Granted they help in many cases. But at other times they actually hinder the performance and safety of the car. I am happy to drive with TC and ABS under most circumstances. I just wish there was a switch to turn off the ABS like there is for the TC for those times when, even if you find it incomprehensible, the car handles more safely without them.

ABS helps in far more cases than it hurts. The net result is greater overall safety. In a case where it may be better to not have it (only on gravel and in some cases snow come to mind) you are likely in an emergency stopping situation so remembering to turn it off would be unlikely anyway.

Thing is ABS does not drive the car for you. You still need to make good decisions and respond appropriately. What it does do is give you better control over the car so those good decisions have a better chance of working out for you. It responds faster and with finer control than a human could.

bolding mine…

I agree - as I said I don’t mind it under daily normal driving conditions. I want to turn it off in heavy snow, not in an emergency in a flash second.

Thats’ just the problem - in the situation I described it does exactly the opposite of what is quoted above. I recognize that in daily driving under most normal conditions it helps. In the snow it hinders.

Well, you are trading control of the vehicle for stopping distance if you turn off ABS in snow. ABS increases stopping distance in snow because it does not allow the snow to pile up in front of the tire and help stop the car. The trade-off is for that you lose all ability to steer the car.

I think we could come up with cases where either could be preferable but of course there is no way to know ahead of time what you will face so you are left with making a snap decision in an emergency and then remembering to toggle ABS one way or the other.

I’d also like to see just how much extra distance in snow ABS adds to get the car to stop. A quick Google on it did not net me any tests done on this special case.

On balance though it is better to have it than not have it even including cases where not having it would be better.

Waddya say we just agree to disagree :smiley:

Oh, right - this is the pit…
FUCK Bush/Obama/The Catrholic Church/Atheists/Illuminati/etc.!!

I’m not very confident in my driving skills. I want all the gadgets I can get to help me. I don’t care about not having control. In fact, I’d really like it if I could get a robot car and read while I ride.

I think there’s a lot more of us who want driving to be easier, even if we have less control, than there are of people who want control at all times. The market responds to the demand for gadgets to make driving easier, as markets do.

I don’t know how other people’s cars work, but mine has a “winter mode” which makes the gas pedal very slow to respond and it slows down the gearshifts. It stops me doing dumb things in snow. Not that we get much snow in Texas :smiley: