Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

How important is Traction Control?

Is Traction Control (anti-skid/anti-spin) important when looking for a new car? Should I rule them out if they don’t have it?

I think of it as just one more thing to go wrong. It is totally unnecessary. Do you have it on your current vehicle? Are you still alive? It doesn’t snow in FL, so what’s the point?

Since I live in the snow belt, I would look for it, but it would not be a deal breaker.

Living in NH, I find it very useful. Basically, without it, if one or your drive wheels loses traction, you’re stuck. With it, both of your drive wheels have to lose traction to get stuck.

Anti skid can really save you life whether FL(skid in rain) or wintry North.

I would not buy a car without it given it only adds about $200-$500 cost if optional. If its simply traction control without the anti skid I would not care.

A professional driver cannot even perform the control anti skid does as it brakes a single wheel to correct your path.

I think you’re confusing traction control with positive traction. All the traction control does is automatically ease off the gas when one of the drive wheels is spinning, which means if one wheel doesn’t have traction, you’re still stuck. I think traction control isn’t all that necessary-- it’s not like ABS or stability control where it does something a reasonably experianced driver couldn’t do on their own.

Stability control, which can actuate individial brakes to get you out of a skid, is a very handy system and, if I were buying a new SUV or other top-heavy vehicle, I would definitely want it. I wouldn’t find it necessary for a regular car-type vehicle.

According to CR, stability control (often accompanies traction control) is as effective in saving lives as air bags. That they are not in use most of the time does not negate their imporance. How often does an air bag get used? They feel you should not invest in a new car W/O one as it maintains stability better than a professional driver in an emergency situation. Our cars have it…I tend to agree. You can’t appeciate what it does in normal driving…an icy parking lot with “cones” will convince you.

Malfunctions there could be bad. I don’t care for excessive electronic stuff. ALB can be problematic.

I have had ABS equipped cars built in 1988 Jetta GLI 16v, 1995 Honda Civic and current 2004 Subaru WRX. Never a single issue in that life span.

I believe people had the same perception on malfunctions etc on ABS, its fine and electronics/stability have come far way from even 10 years ago. There is a slight chance your stability control system light will illuminate on the dash. No issue as most systems can be turned off by a simple dash switch or will default to off in error mode. I don’t see the issue on something that cost so very little new or free (eg included) and has no affect on a vehicle if it fails.

It probably does help, but I also think it’s NOT necessary. What I also think happens is the drivers who have it drive a little more agressively because they THINK the car will protect them. How about slowing down so the traction control doesn’t kick in.

Safety devises are NOT necessary if never used, and you’re right about driving within the limits of your car…but, like air bags, ABS and Stability control do save lives…even those of “good” drivers. I’ll take all the help I can get. The"other guy" could be at fault.

In a normal FWD car, “skid control” is not that big of a deal. It is really hard to get a modern FWD car to come around no matter what dumb thing the driver does. If you are getting a top-heavy SUV / mini-van or a RWD (and possibly an AWD) car then you for sure need “skid control” since you want to avoid rollovers in the top heavy vehicles. It is real easy for the inexperience to spin out a RWD vehicle - you get into a turn to fast and your first reaction is to take your foot off the gas - this can cause “trailing throttle oversteer” and a spin in a RWD car.

“Traction control” is a system to help with traction by either applying the brake to (just) the spinning wheel or cutting power or both. In something like a Corvette it is must have - since you can light up the tires in a heartbeat. In something more pedestrian like a little 4 banger FWD car not having it is not a show stopper if the car does not have it. If you are buying something with a lot of power, even FWD, it can be a help in bad weather and keep a driver from getting into trouble.

Always get ABS not matter what.

If buying a car for a teen or other inexperienced driver, then get all the electronic help for them your can :slight_smile: .


It really depends on the weather in your area and what kind of car it is. If we are talking about a small or mid-sized car in the south, I think you can live without it. If we are talking about areas where there is snow and ice, I would look for it. If we are talking about something lightweight with a high center of gravity, like a car-based SUV or a light truck, I would look for it. As long as you drive sensibly according to conditions, and as long as you get no suprises (like black ice), you will probably never need it in Florida. If you drive like an idiot in the rain, insist on it.

While driving down a country road two summers ago in the rain, at what I thought was a prudent speed, I saw a sudden movement to my right…My thought; darn, this will be my second deer collision in as many years. I instinctily hit the brakes an tweaked the wheel…and glory be. Instead of sliding sideways into a small doe, the dashboard lit up, followed by several crunching sounds and the tail followed front end around the deer. Was it the trac control, abs or stability. I don’t know, maybe a little of each, but it paid for itself on my wife’s Rav 4.
So, even if you are prudent, if you live in deer country, it’s worth while.

GreasyJack, traction control also applies the brake to the wheel that is spinning, so it will help you get unstuck. It only reduces the gas when braking alone is not enough.

I’m amazed at the number of features the car designers managed to tweak out of the ABS systems. Once you have computer controlled brakes and rotation sensors on each wheel, lots of things become possible.

Anti-lock brakes, traction control, Stability control, roll-over control, tire pressure monitor. Any others?