In recent years there have been more and more technological advances in driving, designed to help reduce the risk of accident. While some have been dismissive and refer to it as ‘idiot proofing’ driving, there is no doubt that cars are continually getting safer. One of these developments is Electronic Stability Control – or “ESC”.
What is Electronic Stability Control (ESC)?
ESC is a general term for systems that allow vehicle to regain control when it starts to skid. It is a computerized technology that is able to detect when a vehicle starts to skid and can then intervene to ensure that the driver can regain control. It can do this by:
- Applying brakes to individual wheels to ‘steer’ the car
- Reducing acceleration
During normal driving ESC works in the background measuring things such as vehicle direction compared to driver steering inputs to determine if the vehicle is travelling in the direction the driver desires. It can determine vehicle direction by measuring things like individual wheel speeds in relation to each other.
ESC only intervenes when it detects a loss of driver control which may occur when:
- The car skids
- The driver makes an error of judgement when turning, or
- When the car hydroplanes
When this happens the ESC assumes control and makes adjustments to individual wheel speed with braking, and may even reduce engine power until the intended direction is re established and the driver is able to resume control.
Electronic Stability Control and your vehicle
Government advice site on ESC, offering further information. The system is proving increasingly popular with takeup in new cars as high as 15% in some Nordic countries where ice is a constant problem. In USA it is likewise becoming commonplace and it’s not hard to imagine a time when most cars have it as standard.
Stability control brands
Many cars feature a branded version of ESC so it’s not always obvious whether a car has stability control. Here are some variants you may encounter:
- Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) used by Aston Martin, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda & Mini
- Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) used by Honda
- Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) used by Nissan
- Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) used by Lexus & Toyota
- Porsche Stability Management (PSM)
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