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Traction Control System For Automobiles



Dr.AIT, Bangalore

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Traction Control System For Automobiles Traction control systems limit power to the drive wheels to prevent wheel spin under acceleration

What is traction, and what does traction control do? Traction is the grip that cars tires have on the road, which is needed to accelerate, turn and brake. More specifically, tires have little or no grip; car will not accelerate, turn or brake and will skid. Traction control devices in the car will help prevent this loss of grip so your tires will have traction to accelerate, turn and brake. A traction control system (TCS), on current production vehicles are typically electro-hydraulic system designed to prevent loss of traction (and therefore the control of the vehicle) when excessive throttle or steering is applied by the driver.

The intervention can consist of any, or all, of the following:

Retard or suppress the spark to one or more cylinders. Reduce fuel supply to one or more cylinders Page 2

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Traction Control System For Automobiles

Brake one or more wheels Close the throttle, if the vehicle is fitted with drive by wire throttle.

Typically, the Traction Control system shares the brake actuator and the wheel speed sensors with the anti-lock brake system. WHAT IS UNDERSTEER? Under steer occurs when the front wheels of the car lose traction before the rear wheels and hence the car is difficult to turn and pushes towards the outside of a turn.

WHAT IS OVERSTEERING? Over steer occurs when the rear wheels of the car lose traction before the front wheels and hence the car slides towards the outside of the turn and spins.

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Traction Control System For Automobiles


The predecessor of modern electronic traction control systems can be found in hightorque, high-power rear-wheel drive cars as a limited slip differential, known as Positraction. As this system worked mechanically to transfer power to the individual rear wheel slipping the least, it still allowed some wheel spin to occur.

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Traction Control System For Automobiles A limited slip differential is a modified or derived type of gear arrangement that allows for some difference in rotational velocity of the output shafts, but does not allow the difference in speed to increase beyond a preset amount.

The 2 main types of LSD are: 1. Clutch sensitive 2. Torque sensitive

Clutch Type:
The clutch type LSD responds to driveshaft torque. The more driveshaft input torque present, the harder the clutches are pressed together, and thus the more closely the drive wheels are coupled to each other. With no / little input torque (trailing throttle / gearbox in neutral / main clutch depressed) the drive wheels are still coupled somewhat as the clutches are always in contact to some degree, producing friction. The amount of preload (hence static coupling) on the clutches is determined by the general condition (wear) of the clutches and by how tightly they are shimmed. Dr.AIT, Bangalore Page 5

Traction Control System For Automobiles Broadly speaking, there are three input torque states: load, no load, and over run. Under load, as previously stated, the coupling is proportional to the input torque. With no load, the coupling is reduced to the static coupling. The behavior on over run (particularly sudden throttle release) determines whether the LSD is 1 way, 1.5 way, or 2 way. If there is no additional coupling on over run, the LSD is 1 way. This is a safer LSD, as soon as the driver lifts the throttle, the LSD unlocks and behaves somewhat like a conventional open differential. This is also the best for FWD cars, as it allows the car to turn in on throttle release, instead of plowing forward. [1] If the LSD increases coupling in the same way regardless of whether the input torque is forwards or reverse, it is a 2 way differential. Some drifters prefer this type as the LSD behaves the same regardless of their erratic throttle input, and lets them keep the wheels spinning all the way through a corner. An inexperienced driver can easily spin the car when using a 2 way LSD if they lift the throttle suddenly, expecting the car to settle like a conventional open differential. If the LSD behaves somewhere in between these two extremes, it is a 1.5 way differential, which is a compromise between sportiness and safety. Generally a 1.5 way creates a stronger lock under acceleration than deceleration. Mechanism: The clutch type has a stack of thin clutch discs, half of which are coupled to one of the drive shafts, the other half of which are coupled to the spider gear carrier. The clutch stacks may be present on both drive shafts, or on only one. If on only one, the remaining drive shaft is linked to the clutched drive shaft through the spider gears. If Dr.AIT, Bangalore Page 6

Traction Control System For Automobiles the clutched drive shaft cannot move relative to the spider carrier, then the other drive shaft also cannot move, thus they are locked. The spider gears mount on the pinion cross shaft which rests in angled cutouts forming cammed ramps. The cammed ramps are not necessarily symmetrical. If the ramps are symmetrical, the LSD is 2 way. If they are saw toothed (i.e. one side of the ramp is vertical), the LSD is 1 way. If both sides are sloped, but are asymmetric, the LSD is 1.5 way. As the input torque of the driveshaft tries to turn the differential center, internal pressure rings (adjoining the clutch stack) are forced sideways by the pinion cross shaft trying to climb the ramp, which compresses the clutch stack. The more the clutch stack is compressed, the more coupled the wheels are. The mating of the vertical ramp (80o-85o in practice to avoid chipping) surfaces in a 1 way LSD on over run produces no cam effect and no corresponding clutch stack compression.

Torque-Sensitive Differential:
Torque-sensitive mechanical limited slip differentials utilize worm gears to "sense" torque on one shaft. The most famous versions are: Torsion differential invented by Vernon Gleasman in 1958.Geared LSDs are less prone to wear than the clutch type, but both output shafts have to be loaded to keep the proper torque distribution characteristics. Once an output shaft becomes free (e.g. one driven wheel lifts off the ground; or a summer tire comes over ice while another is on dry tarmac when the car goes uphill), no torque is transmitted to the second shaft and the torque-sensitive differential behaves like an open differential.

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Traction Control System For Automobiles Torque LSDs are dependent on the torque and not on the speed difference between the output shafts. Such differentials may be acceptable on dry pavement, but are not adequate on slippery surface. Torque LSDs may be used:

To reduce torque steer in front-wheel drive vehicles; As a center differential in four-wheel drive (e.g. on Audi Quattro); In rear-wheel drive vehicles, to maximize traction and make over steer easier to manage (as in Drifting). Although, for professional drifting, geared LSD is less effective compared to a clutch type LSD.

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Traction Control System For Automobiles


There are four main components to an ABS system: 1. Speed sensors 2. Pump 3. Valves 4. Controller 5. Speed Sensors The anti-lock braking system needs some way of knowing when a wheel is about to lock up. The speed sensors, which are located at each wheel, or in some cases in the differential, provide this information.

1. Valves There is a valve in the brake line of each brake controlled by the ABS. On some systems, the valve has three positions:

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Traction Control System For Automobiles In position one, the valve is open; pressure from the master cylinder is passed right through to the brake. In position two, the valve blocks the line, isolating that brake from the master cylinder. This prevents the pressure from rising further should the driver push the brake pedal harder. In position three, the valve releases some of the pressure from the brake. 2. Pump Since the valve is able to release pressure from the brakes, there has to be some way to put that pressure back. That is what the pump does; when a valve reduces the pressure in a line, the pump is there to get the pressure back up. 3. Controller The controller is a computer in the car. It watches the speed sensors and controls the valves.

The most common and well-known traction control device is the Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS). ABS is designed to prevent wheels from locking up during panic or hard braking. When braking, if front wheels lock-up, steering control is lost and car will continue in the same path as before attempted to brake. The system consists of a host of speed sensors and a central computer. Speed sensors are located at the wheels of the car, which tell the computer how fast they are turning. The computer constantly evaluates the speed of the vehicle and the speed of the wheels. When the brake pedal is depressed and the speed of the wheel reaches or get close to locking-up, the ABS computer will then modulate the amount of brake pressure (or pump the brakes), as fast as fifteen times per second, on that wheel. This continuing modulation or pumping will prevent or correct wheel lock-up and allow the driver to brake and steer. ABS systems do vary from auto manufacturer to auto manufacturer. It is important know if the car you are driving is equipped with ABS and how to brake if ABS is activated. Shortly after its introduction in the marketplace, there were insurance Dr.AIT, Bangalore Page 10

Traction Control System For Automobiles industry studies that showed ABS equipped cars were in a higher rate of accidents then those not equipped. In this study, it was shown that the most frequent factor in these accidents was driver error. Drivers were not putting enough pressure on the brake, not holding brake pressure long enough or trying to pump the brakes. Evidence also suggests that drivers were over confident when driving an ABS equipped car and were not allowing for a safe following or braking distance. To correctly use the brakes in an ABS equipped car in a panic situation, the driver must apply the brakes 100 percent, using all available force. The ABS computer will prevent brake lockup and the tires sliding on the travel surface. This will allow the driver to steer around the threat. It is important to remember that ABS can increase straight-line stopping distances beyond that of threshold braking in a non-ABS equipped car. ABS offers drivers, in an emergency situation, the ability to maintain steering control so they can steer clear of an obstacle or threat. Current ABS systems give feedback to the driver to let them know it is activated and operating during the current braking maneuver. The most common way that ABS communicates to the driver is a pulsing sensation felt in the braking foot or a rattling noise during braking. This is normal operation and is telling the driver ABS is working. As discussed above, do not attempt to modulate the brake yourself and remember to use all the brake force available. The ABS system will take care of the modulation for you and allow you to steer around a threat. As marketed by most automakers, but related to ABS, is Traction Control. Traction Control is used to prevent the drive wheels from losing grip when accelerating. Spinning tires during hard acceleration may be dramatic, but it is the slowest way to get to your desired speed. Using the cars ABS speed sensors at the wheels, the Traction Control computer compares the drive wheels speed to the cars road speed. If there is a loss of grip event during acceleration, there are a number of ways that the Traction Control slows the drive wheels so they can regain grip. The most common method is to use the braking system. When the drive wheels lose grip, the ABS computer can apply the brake to the wheel that has lost grip to slow it down so it can regain grip. Another method for slowing the slipping wheels is to reduce the amount of power applied to them. The computer will electronically modify the amount of fuel

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Traction Control System For Automobiles entering the engine and/or use the transmission to slow the drive wheels so they can regain grip.


Electronic stability control (SC) systems detect loss in traction and react to regain grip using the braking and engine management systems. Situations where the systems will come into action include under steer, over steer, and spinning wheels. Sensors:

In order for the car to detect loss of traction it needs some sensors. These come in various different forms and determine how the car is behaving, and what the driver is trying to do. Yaw sensors, gyros, wheel-speed detectors and accelerometers are the most common sensors found in SC systems. In addition, information ranging from steering and pedal position, engine speed and gear selection is used to determine driver inputs.

How is this information used? Dr.AIT, Bangalore Page 12

Traction Control System For Automobiles

The SC system determines that loss of traction is occurring, it acts using the braking and engine management controls (and in some cars even the steering system) to put the car back on track. The system reacts according to a set of preset criteria depending on the nature of the loss of traction, which can include spinning wheels or slides.

Spinning wheels:

Traction control is used to reduce drive loss through spinning wheels. This can occur when driving on slippery surfaces or when accelerating hard (usually in first gear from a stand still). Traction control reacts by applying the brakes to the spinning wheel and this forces the drive to be diverted to the wheel(s) with the best grip. Traction control usually only operates below a certain speed.


There are two different types of slide under steer and over steer. SC systems react to these situations by applying the brakes to individual wheels, and reduce engine torque when appropriate to keep the car on line. During an under steer situation, torque is reduced and the resulting forwards weight transfer is usually enough to regain control, if this is not sufficient to bring the vehicle back in line, individual rear brakes will be applied. When over steer is occurring, brake force is applied to one of the front wheels, which acts as pivot to bring the car back on

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Traction Control System For Automobiles line. In general, the brakes are only applied to the wheels which are likely to have the most grips.

How does the system apply the brakes?

Almost every vehicle now has ABS fitted as standard. This life-saving system allows you to continue to steer while braking by regulating the brake pressure and preventing wheel-lock. The system uses a hydraulic motor to generate brake pressure, and this same motor is used by the SC systems to apply braking force to individual wheels where possible, and valves in the ABS unit regulate the pressure.

How does Stability Control help to regain control of the car? The foundation of ABS and Traction Control were already in place when Bosch pioneered Stability Control with their Electronic Stability Program (ESP) in the Mercedes Benz E Class in 1995. These same technologies were used to correct an impending slide. Reviewing back, ABS can control individual wheels braking forces and Traction Control controls individual wheels acceleration forces. Stability Control can use either braking or throttle application to correct a slide. To get a better understanding how braking and acceleration forces affect a cars attitude, we must understand the effect of weight transfer during braking, turning and accelerating. To illustrate, we will use a brake and turn exercise to show how weight transfer will allow the driver to steer more effectively around an obstacle. To turn more effectively, braking should be done prior to turning. During braking, weight is transferred to the front, loading up the front wheels. To take these visuals further; imagine a car with a rod or a pole installed vertically through the roof to the ground of the Dr.AIT, Bangalore Page 14

Traction Control System For Automobiles car. Yaw would be the movement or rotation of the car around this rod. Similar forces are applied to a vehicle when turning. Depending on speed and how much steering is applied, the car can under steer or over steer. A realistic scenario would be driving down the interstate at typical highway speeds in the center lane. Imagine what you would do if the truck in front of you accidentally drops its load of gravel on the roadway in front of you. A common evasive maneuver would be to steer around the obstacle, going left then right to avoid the gravel. For this given example, you may put too much steering input when turning left and cause the car to under steer. To correct the under steer, the Stability Control could apply the brake to the inside front wheel. In this case, during the left turn, the inside front wheel would be the left front wheel. This braking of the left front wheel causes the car to get back to the drivers intended path by reducing the amount of under steer. The deceleration of the vehicle causes weight transfer and puts more weight over the steered wheels. During this evasive maneuver, you are only half done and have not steered back into your lane. When making a quick left/right turn, weight transfer can be quite dramatic and the car can deviate from your intended path. When initially turning left, the weight transferred to the right side of the vehicle. When turning back right and getting back into your lane, the weight will unload from the right side of the car and will quickly transfer to the left. This weight transfer will immediately unload the rear tires and can cause the car to over steer or fishtail. A common method to prevent over steer in this scenario, thinking back to the car spinning on the rod, would be to slow the inside rear tire. Slowing down the right rear tire will slow or prevent the rotating of the vehicle on its vertical axis the rod in our example. Here are the common marketed names Stability Control is called and their respective manufacturers: Audi: Electronic Stability Program (ESP) BMW: Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) DaimlerChrysler (Mercedes Benz): Electronic Stability Program (ESP) Ford Motor Company: Advance Track General Motors: Active Handling System (Corvette) Precision Control System (Oldsmobile), Stabilitrak (Pontiac, Buick, Cadillac) Jaguar: Dynamic Stability Control (DSM) Page 15

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Traction Control System For Automobiles Lexus: Vehicle Skid Control (VSC) Porsche: Porsche Stability Management (PSM) Volkswagen: Electronic Stability Program (ESP) Volvo: Dynamic Stability Traction Control (DTSC)


In road cars: Traction Control has traditionally been a safety feature in highperformance cars, which would otherwise need very sensitive throttle input to keep them from spinning when accelerating, especially in wet or snowy conditions. In recent years, Traction Control systems have become widely available in non-performance cars, minivans, and light trucks.

In race cars: Traction Control is used as a performance enhancement, allowing maximum traction under acceleration without wheel spin. When accelerating out of turn, it keeps the tires at the optimum slip ratio.

In off road vehicles: Traction Control is used instead or in addition to the mechanical limited slip or locking differential. It is often implemented with an electronic limited slip differential, as well as other computerized controls of the engine and transmission. The spinning wheel is slowed down with short applications of brakes, diverting more torque to the non-spinning wheel. This form of traction control has an advantage over a locking differential as steering and control of a vehicle is easier, so the system can be continuously enabled. It also creates less stress on the drive train, which is particularly important to the vehicles with an independent suspension that is generally weaker compared to solid axels .On the other hand, only half of the available torque will be applied to a wheel with traction, compared to a locked differential, and handling is less predictable.

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Traction Control System For Automobiles

Traction control in sports: It is widely thought that TC removes some skill and control from the driver. As such it is unpopular with many motor sports fans. Some motor sports series have given up trying to outlaw TC. With current state of technology, it is possible to implement TC as a part of software in ECU and as such it is very hard to detect by scrutinizers. Very effective yet small units are also available through a company in the US, Davis Technologies {1}that allow the driver to remove the traction control system after an event if desired. In formula 1 an effort to ban TC has led to the change of rules for 2008: every car must have a standard (but custom map able) ECU, issued by FIA, which is relatively basic and does not have TC capabilities. Traction control in cornering Traction control is not just used for moving a vehicle from stationary without slippage. During hard maneuvers in a front wheel drive car there is a point where the wheels cannot both steer and drive the car at the same time without losing traction. With traction control, it's less likely for this loss of control to occur. There is a limit though, when the tires lose grip. The car will not corner as sharply as indicated by the front wheels, this is under steer. In some front wheel drive cars, Traction Control can induce Lift-off overseer due to its throttle retarding capabilities. This can keep some cars stable in long maneuvers. In rear wheel drive cars, traction control can prevent over steer. All car manufacturers strongly point out in vehicle manuals that the Traction Control system is not to be taken for granted and that its presence should not encourage dangerous driving or situations beyond the driver's control. Traction Control in the Snow

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Traction Control System For Automobiles Many people mistakenly believe that traction control will prevent their vehicle from getting stuck in the snow. This couldn't be further from the truth. Traction control does not have the ability to increase traction; it just attempts to prevent a vehicle's wheels from spinning. For drivers who routinely drive in snowy and icy conditions, traction control, antilock brakes, and snow tires are must-have safety features.

TC systems use both the brakes and engine management controls to reduce wheel spin or slides. Great on the road, but when you're on a track the last thing you need is the car putting on the brakes! Most performance cars have an option to disable (or significantly reduce) the TC systems via a button on the dash. Experiment by turning off the control and see how the car behaves. If you have got into the bad habit of allowing the SC systems to sort you out round corners, you may find yourself spinning in the first bend, so be careful and build up speed gradually as your confidence improves.


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