Why would I want to turn off my car's electronic stability control?

The title pretty much says it.

I recently bought a vehicle that has electronic stability control. It is equipped with a switch that allows me to turn the electronic stability control off.

Under what circumstances would one want to do this and why?

They limit your RPMs when they notice that you are slipping to reduce the chance that you’ll get out of control. The only time you really need to turn it off is when you get stuck. If one of your driving wheels is just spinning in snow or mud, it’ll be even harder to get out if the computer limits your RPMs and your other wheel can’t get any torque. Also, you might need it off if you are trying to rock your car out of snow.
If you look in your manual it should describe it better.

Yeah, you might need to turn it off badly if you ever get stuck in the snow or mud. The system won’t let your wheels spin much but that is what it takes to get out of those situations sometimes. You may need to get high engine RPM’s and lots of wheel spinning to rock your way bank and forth out of a slick rut or to just brute force your way out. I have had to turn those systems off a few times in such situations or there would be no chance of getting it out otherwise.

Thanks! Excellent info, both of yous guys. I bought my vehicle used and the dealership had to order a manual for me, which hasn’t come in yet, so I will definitely read up when I get it.

Also, in recreational mode, you’d shut if off if you wanted to do donuts in the snow, or do some drifting, or learn high performance driving. Once you get to a certain level of skill, you want to be able to slide the car around a little, and don’t want the traction control “correcting” your “mistakes.”

This is the most useful thread I have ever read in SD! My car, which I bought new 14 months ago, has a button labeled ESC with an on and off position. Until now I have had no idea when I would want to turn it off. I have read my owners manual cover to cover several times looking for an explanation, but never found one. Now I know.

You turn it off if you’re a teenage boy who thinks he can drift and doesn’t want the electronics spoiling his fun. Then you wrap the car around a telegraph pole.

That stands for ESCAPE. The question is, do you want the ejector seat ON or OFF?

But the question is, does Escape turn ON the ejector seats, or does it escape out of ejector seat mode?

As others have said, it can screw you over in snow. My drive is steep and snow covered 6 months out of the year. I usually turn it off so that if I do slip for just a second, I can keep my momentum up.

Also, when pulling out from a slick road to a dry road, I might have just a tiny bit of wheel spin. It sucks when you need to punch it on the dry road, and you have a couple second delay before the throttle is released back to your control.

My switch is labeled DVC (dynamic vehicle control). It automatically turns of if you go into low range 4x4.

Holy cow, Colophon… have you been racing your Model T with stability control off? :wink:

Not sure about other cars but on my Honda if I turn it off the next time I start the car it is automatically turned back on.

Yes, I believe that is generally standard. It’s the way it works on my Nissan 350Z.

My last car (BMW 3 series) had traction control with an on/off button, and it was great while you were actually driving. If you were maneuvering at slow speed in snow or on ice it was useless and you had to just turn it off and spin the rear wheels to get it moving.
I drove for about a week with a failed wheel speed sensor, which caused the traction control system to fail completely, and it was surprising just how twitchy the rear end was in the wet.
However, it was a great car and I really miss it.

I know what you are talking about. My main problems with traction control have been with the two BMW 3-series models I have owned and used in the snow. I literally could not move out of the driveway the first time it happened because the traction control would just give up after a very weak effort. It took me half an hour flipping through the owner’s manual to figure out that is what the ‘Disc’ button was for. I never paid attention to it and thought it was a screwy feature of the sound system. That did the trick. I do love a BMW 3-series but you better know how to turn off traction control if you are stuck in the snow at all or you aren’t going anywhere. Other vehicles have a similar version of that problem though. Their computers are smart but they can’t read minds and don’t know that you are willing to spin and lose some stability just to get moving at all.

Were you aware there is such a thing as a car enthusiast who isn’t a teenager? I find your post really insulting to hobbyists you apparently know nothing about.

Another oft missed reason for turning off any traction control system, is if you have a failure in the anti-lock brake system. They use the same wheel rotation sensors, but the AL Brake system only works while braking. Traction control systems work at all times.

A screwed up sensor will seriously mess with driving (and braking) but much more so with just driving.


I’m pretty sure that’s the case on all cars. I believe on some cars if you turn it off it’ll turn back on once you reach a certain speed.

And what some of us car enthusiasts do is install something like this logic module that reverses the default setting to “always off” unless the switch is turned on.


That way you can turn it on for the rare occations where it is needed and it stays off the rest of the time.