CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Mazda5 Traction Control necessary?

I currently drive a 2000 Subaru Outback and I’m looking for a new vehicle. I live in southern Maine and drive about 20 miles each way to work. My commute is not on winding back roads, but it’s not on the highway either. I have two small children that I’m carting around with me. I like the Mazda5 because it offers the option of some extra seating without being a full on minivan. It’s my understanding that Traction Control is only available on 2010 and later models. I am not 100% sure what this does and if I need it. I like the four wheel drive of the Subaru when I’m driving in the snow up here.

While I’m at it, are there any other vehicles folks would recommend?

Traction control is awesome for those who don’t really need full 4 wd. If you arn’t going to encounter really steep hills and ice, it is as good as 99% of all drivers on paved surfaces will need. Yes. It is worth it and living in Maine, regardless of what car you choose, make sure it has it. With winter tires, it’s even better and safer with the stability control it includes as well.

Traction control sends some power from wheels that have less traction to wheels that have more traction. This can keep you moving or help you get unstuck, which is never a bad thing.

Stability control, if available, is even better. If the car isn’t going in the direction you’re trying to steer, stability control can brake certain wheels to help you get back under control. From what I’ve read, studies have shown that this feature does reduce accidents.

If you can afford both, having both would be good.

I concur Stability Control is wonderful and real asset.

Traction control is okay but in rough conditions know where the defeat is. I can actually hinder movement of the vehicle in tough conditions like deep snow or mud.

We have a first generation Mazda5 and its a great vehicle. It’s got plenty of space and two sliding doors - which are great for small kids. Its also availible with a manual transmission - the only car in its class that isn’t a boring automatic. Fun to drive, reliable, decent gas mileage. We live in Rocky Mountain snow country and with good winter tires our 5 goes everwhere. As long as you don’t need high ground clearance, this is a huge upgrade from a Subaru - and much more fun and reliable. In most driving situations, traction control will do more to help keep your car under control than ABS, so I’d definately spring for that option. You might even get an insurance discount with TC. Good luck.

I have a Caravan with Stability Control, but have never had an occasion where it was used. I don’t know if it is good or not.

I thought “Traction Control” was just an advanced ABS system where sensors apply the brakes to wheels that are spinning and it usually reduces the throttle also…Right?

Correct. “Traction Control” and “Stability Control” both work by activating the antilock brakes on each wheel individually. The difference is just software. Traction Control applies the brake on wheels that begin to spin faster than the opposite wheel, so if one wheel hits a patch of ice, the wheel with traction will still receive power form the engine and you will keep moving. Stability Control uses the brakes on each wheel to stop any spinning and sideways drifting by applying brakes on the wheels on opposite corners of the car, which generates a turning force and keep the car from possibly spinning out of control.

Traction Control is a cheaper alternative to a locking differential, but really the all wheel drive on your Subaru is probably better than front wheel drive with traction control.

I would certainly NOT recommend a front wheel drive without Traction Control in slippery conditions.

Lion9 is wrong, Traction control does not send power to non-drive wheels. He is thinking about AWD or 4WD… @mooglinux gave a great deffinition of what tractoin control does… A+

gsragtop wrote:
Lion9 is wrong,

I’m aware that the system uses the ABS brakes, but I thought it was best to keep things simple for the OP and not get into how it’s done. I also never said anything about the non-drive wheels being involved, so I’m not sure where you got that from.

Maybe I did not read it right but:

“Traction control sends some power from wheels that have less traction to wheels that have more traction. This can keep you moving or help you get unstuck, which is never a bad thing.”

“Wheels” imply plural IE AWD… That is how I read it … On a front wheel drive car it can send power left or right not back to front… Which is how I read your post… Sorry for the confustion, but I have had sales people say the same thing and people think they are getting AWD with out paying for it.

I guess I could have said “wheel or wheels”, then.

In any event, this is probably becoming much clearer to the OP now.