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Traction Control Question

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Shantheman
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Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:37 pm

Traction Control Question

Post by Shantheman » Sat Dec 04, 2010 4:32 pm

Ok...today was our first snow of the season...and the first time I've encountered snow with my Taurus X (2008 SEL FWD). From what I understand...traction control/stability control is supposed to be standard, correct?

When attempting to drive up my driveway...which has a fairly decent incline...I just keep spinning to the point my X slid sideways. I had to apply the brake to stop the front wheels from spinning.

I pressed the little button on the bottom of the console with the skidding vehicle icon...and the light came on the dash that it was 'engaged'...yet the same thing happened again and again. I made 3 attempts before giving up.

Why am I spinning tires so much with traction control? Doesn't the system use brakes or engine timing retardation (one or the other...or both?) for the T/C system? Shouldn't it stop the tires from spinning at least?

Any knowledge or first hand experience of this?

Jack Watts
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Re: Traction Control Question

Post by Jack Watts » Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:13 pm

Stability control deals with braking/skidding, so traction control is the relevant issue here. On a 2WD car, it's only going to help if one wheel is slipping and the other one isn't. It simply senses the differential between wheel speeds, and if it's too high it'll apply brake pressure (in most cases) to the faster-spinning wheel. If both wheels are slipping at a similar rate, it's really not going to know.

It seems that you're simply not getting adequate traction from your tires. There's not much TC will really be able to do in that case.

Shantheman
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Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:37 pm

Re: Traction Control Question

Post by Shantheman » Sat Dec 04, 2010 6:13 pm

Thanks for the response!

That makes sense. I thought traction control compared the speed to the drive wheels to actual speed (which...i guess would need to be measured independently of the drive wheels...rear wheels maybe?) So, if front tires were spinning faster than actual speed...the traction control would dial back speed of drive wheels until they regained traction.

Although...what you said makes sense. So T/C isn't effective if front tires are spinning together at same rate?

Here's a related question...I thought FWD cars didn't drive both front wheels at same time? Like...either one or the other drives. Do we have a locking diff (is that what it is called?) then?

Jack Watts
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Re: Traction Control Question

Post by Jack Watts » Sat Dec 04, 2010 7:07 pm

In an AWD car, it will sense the wheel speed of all 4 wheels. In a FWD car, the answer is "it depends". Typically, no. In some cars it will in fact slow down the front wheels if there's a differential between the front and rear wheels. I'm about 90% certain the FS/Taurus X doesn't employ that system, though. If it did, you'd likely feel the engine decelerating under throttle.

It is basically a "fixed" differential, so it drives both wheels at the same speed. There are input shafts into the transmission. The wheels aren't slowed by the diff in traction control, they're actually slowed by the ABS unit. Some FWD cars do have a "limited slip" type differential, but typically those are found in RWD and AWD cars.

pwschuh
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Re: Traction Control Question

Post by pwschuh » Sat Dec 04, 2010 8:19 pm

1. If you are going to drive in snow, you need snow tires. Don't try to use "all-season radials" to go up snow covered hills.

2. Traction control defaults to "ON. " That little button on the dash turns it off. That little "skidding vehicle icon" on your dash means that the traction control is off.

3. The system uses the brakes to keep both wheels spinning at approx. the same speed. If both wheels are spinning at the same speed already, it won't help you. It does not compare the speed of the powered wheels to the non-powered wheels. Even if it did, it wouldn't help you if the both front tires had already lost traction. Get snow tires. They really work.

4. You do not have a locking diff.

5. FWD drives both wheels at the same time.
2008 TX Limited
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Bought used on 17 Nov 10 with 20,000 miles

Shantheman
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Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:37 pm

Re: Traction Control Question

Post by Shantheman » Sat Dec 04, 2010 8:31 pm

I agree...snow tires make a big difference. I'm not living in an area where it has been worth it (over the last few years) to get snow tires...but I'm a believer in them.

(Although, we just built this house with the inclined driveway...maybe I either get used to putting salt down regularly or get the tires)

Thanks for the info that the system defaults to ON normally. I thought it was weird to make us push that button to turn it on...but thankfully I was mistaken.

So, along with traction control...we also have the skid/stability control standard too, is that correct? If so...that simply helps keeping the vehicle go in a straight line and not have it spin out (within reasonable limits of course)?

pwschuh
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Re: Traction Control Question

Post by pwschuh » Sun Dec 05, 2010 5:53 am

Shantheman wrote:So, along with traction control...we also have the skid/stability control standard too, is that correct? If so...that simply helps keeping the vehicle go in a straight line and not have it spin out (within reasonable limits of course)?
Correct.
2008 TX Limited
Silver Birch Metallic/Black leather
WeatherTech floormats all rows
Bought used on 17 Nov 10 with 20,000 miles

Shantheman
Regular Member
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:37 pm

Re: Traction Control Question

Post by Shantheman » Sun Dec 05, 2010 1:15 pm

Thank you!!!

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