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Friday, June 18th, 2010
You may have seen the Toyota TV Spots proudly touting the merits of the Toyota Star Safety System standard on all Toyota vehicles. But what is the Star Safety System exactly?

Toyota’s Star Safety System is a combination of five different carefully engineered features that keep the driver in control of the vehicle and out of trouble.

Here’s a brief description of each of the five engineered safety technologies of The Star Safety System and how they go into action for the driver.


VSC helps prevent wheelslip and loss of traction by reducing engine power and applying brake force to the wheels that need it. (Figure 1) Rear wheelslip can occur when the rear wheels lose traction and cause the vehicle to slide around.(Figure 2) Front wheelslip can occur when the front wheels lose traction during cornering and begin to drift toward the outside of the turn. Toyota’s VSC monitors your steering angle and the direction your vehicle is actually traveling and senses when your front or rear wheels begin to slip. When it senses this loss of traction or slip, VSC reduces engine power and applies braking to the individual wheels that need it to help correct the slip and keep the vehicle in the intended path.vsc


Traction Control helps maintain traction on wet, icy, loose or uneven surfaces by applying brake force to the spinning wheel(s). Let’s say you’re driving and come upon a snowy or icy patch on an uneven road. (Figure 2) If your vehicle gets stuck in the snow, wheelspin occurs, and you come to a stop. (Figure 1) Toyota’s Traction Control sensors are activated when one of the wheels starts to slip. TRAC limits engine output and applies the brakes to the spinning wheel. This transfers power to the wheels that still have traction to help you go safely on your way.traction-control


ABS helps prevent brakes from locking up by “pulsing” brake pressure to each wheel to help you stay in control in emergency braking situations. When something unexpected appears in your path, you may instinctively swerve to avoid it and jam on the brakes. However, without ABS, the brakes can lock up, the vehicle starts to skid, and you struggle to stay in control. Toyota’s ABS sensors detect which wheels are locking up and prevent the lockup by “pulsing” the brakes at each wheel independently. Pulsing releases brake pressure repeatedly for fractions of a second — a reaction time not possible for humans.This means the wheels never stop rotating and that helps the car to avoid going into a skid, helping you stay in control. ABS
1. Inexperienced or panicking driver applies brakes quickly but without enough pressure. 2. Driver sometimes eases up on the brake pedal too soon. 3. The Brake Assist system increases braking force, even when the brake pedal isn’t pushed hard enough. 4. When the driver intentionally eases up on the brake pedal, the Brake Assist system reduces the amount of assistance applied. Note: To activate the Brake Assist system, keep pressing the brake pedal. When braking assistance is no longer required, ease up on the brake pedal.brake assist

Toyota’s ABS technology has Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) to help keep the vehicle more stable and balanced when braking. If you have to stop abruptly, momentum causes the vehicle to tilt forward and reduces the brake force of the rear tires. But in a Toyota, EBD responds to sudden stops by redistributing brake force. Wheels with more braking effectiveness receive more brake force; wheels with less effectiveness receive less brake force. This helps prevent brake lockup. EBD is especially helpful when carrying cargo. Sensors recognize the extra load the cargo puts on the rear axle, so brake pressure on the rear wheels is increased because the extra weight improves braking effectiveness. ebd


Friday, March 12th, 2010

Years ago when somone used the term traction aids they were referring to weights and pulleys to put tension on a displaced bone or joint. The reference still exists in medical vernacular. Today, traction aid is a buzz term for any of the new technologies for cars and trucks that help guide them along their path safely with driver control.traction control

Most of the new systems are seamless and mostly automatic to offer the driver options for dealing with just about any low-traction situation. As with many new technologies, there can be confusion as to what they do and when they should be employed.


Maximum traction is not always the desired result. There is a problem designing a system for both optimum control and maximum traction. The reason is that tires are required to generate both traction forces and cornering forces. Although they can do both at the same time, they cannot generate 100 percent of both at the same time. If a tire is asked to maximize traction, its cornering capability will be significantly reduced, and visa versa. This is the main reason Auto LSD works separately from TRAC. TRAC is geared more toward control, while Auto LSD is all about traction. So what are the differences?

VSC is the default mode on many Toyota vehicles and incorporates TRAC. It is referred to as VSC+TRAC. These two systems are functional in 2WD  vehicles, or 4WD vehicles in 2WD mode.

TRAC – Helps improve traction by limiting rear wheel-spin with throttle reduction and/or by applying the rear brakes. It is programmed to help improve traction and limit the chance of losing control of the vehicle due to too much rear wheel-spin say as you drive along a wet road.

A-TRAC– Is TRAC for 4WD vehicles. When in 4WD, A-TRAC monitors wheel-spin on each axle. It uses the brakes to limit wheel-spin on opposing tires, thus transferring torque from the spinning wheel to the non-spinning wheel, helping to improve traction on that axle.

VSC– Helps control the vehicle during cornering and has virtually nothing to do with traction. It is designed to counter-steer the vehicle in case of loss of control in a cornering situation by applying individual brakes. This helps the vehicle stay along its intended path. The steering effect is much like steering a wheelchair by grabbing /braking one of the wheels.

VSC OFF- Helps give the driver control over wheel-spin for conditions that require more slip, such as deep snow with tire chains. It also allows “rocking” of the vehicle if stuck. This is accomplishing by holding in the VSC Off button for more than three seconds. Both the VSC Off and slip indicator light will illuminate. VSC can be turned on again by simply pushing the VSC Off button.

AUTO LSD Designed for maximum longitudinal tire traction, is only functional in 2WD vehicles or 4WD vehicles in 2WD mode. The electronic programming of Auto LSD uses the brakes to slow a spinning rear tire which redirects the power to the tire with grip, just like TRAC, but without power reduction. Auto LSD need only be used when the VSC-TRAC system is not sufficient for conditions such as pulling a boat up a wet ramp.

The system can be engaged any time by tapping the “VSC OFF” switch. An “Auto LSD” light appears in the gauge cluster. Auto LSD only functions below about 30 mph; above that, TRAC takes over regardless of the indicator lights. To turn Auto LSD off, simply tap the switch again.

Whether the goal is improving control or traction, these systems do an outstanding job and are standard on many Toyota vehicles, Tundra and Tacoma.