ESC Danger


#1

Until I figured out what the ESC function was on my Kia Forte, it nearly caused me to be in several wrecks. ESC is the Electronic Stability Control. When it detects that you are in ice, snow, mud or anything which causes a loss of traction, the motor drops down to idle until traction is regained. This can also occur if the tires are not equally inflated. When pulling out into traffic and the motor drops down to idle, you become a sitting duck until the motor responds to the accelerator. When that finally happens, the car takes off like a jet plane! This is dangerous.
The first Kia dealer I took it to had no idea what the problem was. He thought I was just making up the scenario.I had to go to a second dealer.There is a button on the dash which disengages the ESC but it is a hassle to push that button every time I start the car.Pushing the button should engage the ESC instead of disengaging it.


#2
Until I figured out what the ESC function was on my Kia Forte

You mean there is nothing in your Owners Manual about this button? Or that you never opened the manual and looked?


#3

And to think our brilliant federal regulators made these systems mandatory…
I’m truly sorry to hear your situation. Your owners’ manual should tell you whether the system has its own fuse. If it does, you can try pulling it. If your state has annual safety inspections (33 states do not) you’d need to reinstall the fuse once a year, but it’s better than putting up with this ridiculous mandate. If it does not have its own fuse, I’m afraid I can offer no solution.


#4

That’s interesting. I thought it operated using the anti-lock brakes but maybe its different in a Kia.


#5

It actually uses both the antilock and engine speed control. If one wheel starts to spin the brakes slow that wheel down and the other wheel gets power. If that wheel gets traction all is good. If that wheel starts to spin the process goes back and forth but the engine speed drops until it hits idle. A few times I had to burn rubber to get moving in snow/ice. The traction control took the engine speed to idle, turning it off let me spin my way out. I know that is not the right way to handle ice and snow, but every-once in a while I had to do it.


#6

"When that finally happens, the car takes off like a jet plane! "

So, under good traction conditions, you still have this problem? If so, somethings wrong with the car or your driving technique.


#7

From the OP’s description, this does sound like a dangerous problem. I can see the concern. And the problem with the driver having to remember to turn it off to remain safe is very valid. I’ve no experience with Kias or ESC, but to me it sounds like something is not working correctly on this particular car.


#8

I’m trying to figure out why you’re apparently having this happen so often. Are your tires in bad shape? Are you driving on slippery roads far more than the average person? Are you accelerating too hard?

In my car and my wife’s car, the stability control and traction control systems rarely kick in, even on unplowed snowy roads, unless we’re trying to chew our way up a steep hill.

Even though you’re having this issue, this isn’t the norm, so I’m afraid I disagree with your opinion about how the button should work.


#9

It’s more related to the Traction control which is connected to the ESC but not totally related. No codes in the computer? Others found on google searches have suspected the Throttle Position Sensor or a problem with the computer controlling the ESC system. Happening to many different Kia models according to the forums.


#10

Wow! This post is so applicable to me. I purchased my 2010 KIA Forte SX 6 speed manual in May 2010. I was not able to test drive the MT as the dealer had to find one. When the salesman who was actually low pressure, knowledgeable, and helpful informed me of the ESC feature which is a combination of traction and stability control I asked if it could be disabled. He replied: “Yes but why would anyone want to”? I would have replied that there are still drivers like myself who still know how to drive and don’t need this feature. I realized that dealers for liability reasons could not suggest disabling government required “nanny” features so I just let it go. My first problem was frequent stalling. I learned how to drive a manual transmission in 1965. I was 13 years old. I joined the KIA Forte forum and learned the manuals were equipped with a “clutch delay valve”. This was invented to make it easier for customers who did not know how to drive a manual to drive one. What! Driving a manual needs to be learned and is not that difficult! I taught both of my Sons in a couple of days. The oldest had not driven a manual for over 20 years. I gave him my 2002 Mitsubishi eclipse 5 speed and he drove it just fine. Muscle memory. That is why I had problems with the KIA. Clutch delay valve/throttle by wire. After about 2 Months I learned how to drive it. My problem with the KIA was on a curve that I could negotiate with the Mitsubishi with it’s summer tires at 40mph. They were Toyo 2.25/50/16. When I drove the KIA which came with Goodyear Eagle 2.15/40/17 it was capable of about the same performance. I had aged some and was not capable so I slowed to 30mph. The KIA ESC would barely engage at 30mph which was far to early so I would disengage it for this one curve. One day I approached the curve and realized I had forgot to disengage the ESC. I slowed to 20mph. I had easily negotiated the curve and was accelerating out of it. There was suddenly no acceleration and the more I pushed the accelerator the more it seemed to apply the brakes. It came to a stop which killed the engine. I knew there was a Giant Dodge RAM pickup behind me which fortunately was going slow and was able to stop. I’m sure they were thinking “why is this idiot stopped in the middle of the road”? I was able to start up, disengage the ESC and drive away. Obviously this nanny s**t can be dangerous.


#11

“I asked if it could be disabled. He replied: “Yes but why would anyone want to”? I would have replied that there are still drivers like myself who still know how to drive and don’t need this feature.”

@sgtrock21…you are my kind of guy. I too find all these automotive “baby sitting” devices disheartening. I don’t need ESC, CEL, ABS or TPMS but my government seems to think I do. I drove, safely I might add, long before these devices were installed on vehicles. I’ll learn to live with them but I find them unnecessary for the most part.

I borrowed my cousin’s 2008 Nissan Altima the other day and the TPMS symbol was lit on the dash. I immediately checked the air in all her tires and the pressure was fine. When I returned the car to her I asked her about the light. She said it had been on for 2 years and no dealer in the area could get it to go out for any length of time. I don’t know if the real fault is with the dealership mechanics or the TPMS itself. I’m going to assume it’s a little of both.


#12

Apparently the car is a bad match for @bstreet and @sgtrock21‌. One solution is to steel it and buy a car that better suits your driving style. The Forte was designed for a group of drivers that apparently doesn’t include you.


#13

In addition to what jtsanders stated, I want to add a few other thoughts to consider prior to deciding that the presence of ESC represents some kind of insidious federal plot to deprive people of their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

First of all, I think that the OP may be confusing traction control with Electronic Stability Control. Secondly, if the ESC (and/or the traction control) is being activated very frequently on these cars, that indicates (IMHO) only a few possibilities:

The tires with which Kia equips these cars have a very poor coefficient of friction.
Kia has programmed extremely conservative parameters in the ESC’s and/or the TC’s operating system.
The drivers are exceeding the handling capabilities that the manufacturer believes the car is capable of.

When I got my 2002 Outback, it was the first car that I had owned with TC & ESC.
And, despite the presence of permanent AWD, I was experiencing the activation of these “nanny” systems on a fairly frequent basis in the winter. After doing my due diligence regarding the OEM Bridgestone Potenza RE-92 tires, I discovered that they did indeed suffer from traction problems, especially on winter road surfaces. After replacing them with a set of Michelin winter tires, I only felt the ESC & TC activate on very rare occasions–essentially if I was doing something stupid behind the wheel.

Then, when warm weather returned and I remounted the OEM Potenzas, I found that these electronic systems were activating fairly frequently again. Getting rid of those extremely crappy Bridgestone Potenza RE-92 tires, and replacing them with BF Goodrich T/A tires, I never again felt either of the electronic “nanny devices” activate.

On my current car (a 2011 Outback 3.6R), I have never felt either of these systems activate–either with the mediocre OEM Continental tires, or with the altogether superior Michelin Defenders that are now mounted on the car.

It is entirely possible that Kia has set the operating parameters in too cautious a manner for the ESC and/or the TC, and/or it is entirely possible that the OEM tires are at fault. However, until it is sorted out, I think it would be wise for owners of these cars to drive in a more conservative manner. Filing a complaint with NHTSA might be a good idea, because if enough Kia owners complain, it just might result in a recall for reprogramming of the computer(s) that control these systems.


#14

PvtPublic My owner’s manual only identifies the button as traction/stability control disable.

VDCdriver I like your possibilities.

The tires with which Kia equips these cars have a very poor coefficient of friction.
My 2010 KIA Forte SX was OEM equipped with Goodyear Eagle 2.15/45/17s. A pretty good dry pavement performance tire, acceptable in rain but I would not even consider them for snow and ice.
Kia has programmed extremely conservative parameters in the ESC’s and/or the TC’s operating system.
Liability driven. The manufacturer has to offer a product designed for the least skilled customer.
The drivers are exceeding the handling capabilities that the manufacturer believes the car is capable of. See above.

I feel your pain with the Bridgestones. My 2002 Mitsubishi Eclipse RS was OEM equipped with 195/65/15s (not Potenzas). They performed OK in rain and even snow. They were total crap on dry pavement tending to roll onto the sidewall at moderate cornering speed. Fortunately they wore out quickly. I replaced them in the summer with the 2.25/50/16 Toyos on American Racing wheels (they were a perfect fit) from my 1991 RX-7 which was in semi storage. The Eclipse became a completely different car. I did that for 3 summers then replaced the Bridgestones with 205/60/15s. they were good enough that I stopped swapping.

jtsanders I don’t understand your post
.
" Apparently the car is a bad match for @bstreet and @sgtrock21‌. One solution is to steel it and buy a car that better suits your driving style. The Forte was designed for a group of drivers that apparently doesn’t include you. "

I am overall very satisfied with my 2010 KIA Forte SX third generation 2.4L all aluminum DOHC with timing chain(s) 173hp 162ftlbs torque. It is a very good “balanced” car. My only complaint was the traction/stability control having a very low threshold and the one bizarre experience with it. I have never had a problem with the system with the exception of that one curve and keep it engaged with that rare exception. I now rarely drive that road. I don’t know if you are stating that I drive to fast or drive to slow. I do neither.


#15
PvtPublic My owner's manual only identifies the button as traction/stability control disable.

Well if the traction/stability control is causing you problems it tells you how to turn it off, no more problem.


#16

Except for ABS, I don’t even know what the rest of that alphabet soup means [as per @missileman’s posting above]. Is that serious, that the government is requiring this kind of stuff on cars these days? No wonder no one knows how to drive any more. Now they’re planning cars that drive themselves, so I suppose we can just sit home drinking mint juleps and watch the scenery go by on our smart phones through the feed from the dash cam in the car.

I’m with sgtrock21 on this – I want to drive the car, and not the other way around. Same way I want the government working for me, and not the other way around. Geez.


#17

It has never caused problems with the exception of the one curve. I have only disengaged for a few seconds for this enigmatic curve. I still have no explanation for the stopping of the car after negotiating the curve at 10mph less (20mph) than usual with TC/ESC turned on. I now rarely drive this road and don’t consider it a problem (I remember to disengage). I have negotiated sharper curves at 30mph without the TC/ESC interfering.


#18

There’s the drive by wire throttle body factor being thrown into the electronic stew so there is somewhat of a disconnect between the driver and the throttle plate.

But electronics never screw up, huh… :slight_smile:


#19

@ Sarge,maybe a freak signal there?-Kevin


#20

Studies have shown that stability control reduces accidents, so I’m not complaining about it, unlike many of you. If I’m going around a curve on a snowy road and I see a car driven a little too fast by a teenager coming from the other direction, I’m very much in favor of that car having stability control.