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Traction Control on Ice

I live near the top of a hill that is almost 700 feet tall with curves and cars that have traction control tend to really loose ground on this hill. So, I was wondering if there are any new or late model cars where the traction control can be turned off?


As Tardis stated, many–perhaps most–modern cars have a button or switch that enables the driver to turn the traction control off.

And, the correct term is to “lose ground” on the hill.

I live near the top of a hill that is almost 700 feet tall with curves and cars that have traction control tend to really loose ground on this hill.

Have you considered this might be a correlation without a cause and effect relationship? Maybe the cars with traction control have other issues, like inappropriate tires or untrained drivers.

If you can’t make it up the hill, traction control isn’t the problem. Lack of traction is the problem, and you can improve it with better tires appropriate for the terrain or tire chains. Traction control helps you get the most traction with the equipment you have. Improve your equipment (tires), and it can do a better job.

Here is a demonstration of how traction control works (along with other safety systems).

And I thought he meant it was throwing dirt into the air…

well, if they’re having trouble making it up the hill, and are spinning their tires a lot… :stuck_out_tongue:


As someone who’s driven in the snow for a living in hilly SW PA, I can unequivocally state that a certain amount of wheelspin is required to get max traction up a snow-covered hill…and that amount of wheelspin is in excess of what’s allowed by traction control.

I turn the TC off, as a matter of course, whenever there’s snow on the roads.

Can we assume you have real WINTER tyres, not just old school snow tyres?

Whitey and Everyone Else,

    Thank you for all the good advice. Toyota only allows you to use studded snow tires on the Prius and you can not turn off the traction control. Using chains and front wheel drive on my other car, I could make it up the hill with just good driving technique. What I see happening to other people and on my Prius, is that as soon as the traction control senses slippage, it stops the wheel to allow it to regain traction. On an icy hill with the appropraite tires and chains on my old 1977 Volvo, I would usually keep the wheels turning at a slow, steady rpm and slip and grip my way to the top. Right now, I thinking about getting a 1987 Subaru GL Wagon AWD. Most of the new cars I looked at recently, did not allow you to turn the traction control off. So, if anyone knows of a 2010-2011, can also be just front wheel drive, let me know and my thanks again to all who replied.

What cars were you looking at? Most cars I know of let you turn off the traction control. I suspect the traction control is non-defeatable on the Prius due to nature of the electric motor delivering all it’s torque at exceptionally low engine speeds. And the traction control is needed for drivability issues.

I don’t know about the options to turn traction control off in newer cars, but given the choice, I would never buy a car that doesn’t allow me to turn it off. My Odyssey has it and all it does in the snow is annoy me. I have more success driving in the snow with it turned off.

For the record, I live in SW. PA. (Pittsburgh) mentioned by meanjoe75fan a couple posts up, and going up-hill really is where the traction control seems to cause the most difficulty.

Thanks everyone again for your replies. I will do more in depth investgation rather than going by what the car salesman tells me.

Salesmen? Never believe a car salesman. Even if he (or she) is honest and has good intentions, he (or she) may not be properly informed.

If you really want a car that can confidently climb a particular hill in snow and ice, you may need to wait for those conditions and then take a few cars for test drives to your particular hill. I’m not sure how else to separate hype from reality.

In general, though, it sounds like you want a car with winter tires and a TCS that can be turned off. If you normally need chains to get up this hill, you’ll need a car that allows you to use chains. Read the owner’s manual before buying.

We live on a road that is snow/ice covered the entire winter and very steep. We learned very quickly, after two $500 brake jobs NOT to rely on traction control exclusively, but practice good traction enhancing driving habits. The additional wear on the brakes cannot be overstated for those of us who deal with ice every day. One of our cars CANNOT turn this darn thing off. I love it in general but think trade every time we need another brake job. It’s definitely a feature I want more control over when it’s engaged.

"I can unequivocally state that a certain amount of wheelspin is required to get max traction up a snow-covered hill…"
I agree that in deep snow and mud you need wheel spin to clear the treads. The inability to do so can drive your traction system (and driver) insane. Ask my 05 RAV4…even with good winter tires. With our 4 Runner, we engage the differential lock which disables the traction control, and deep snow /mud are NO problem.

Two things:
1)You do not need studded tires on the Prius - just good Winter tires like Nokia’s.

  1. You CAN disable traction control on the Prius (I live in Snow country and do disable it when necessary on my 2004)-
    To disable traction control on the Prius:

These steps must be completed within 60 seconds.

  1. Turn the car to ignition by pressing START twice without pressing the brake.
  2. Floor the gas pedal two times (two full top to bottom pressings)
  3. Make sure the parking brake is on, and while pressing the brake pedal put the car into NEUTRAL
  4. Again press the gas pedal two times
  5. Push PARK and press the gas pedal two more times
  6. Now put your foot on the BRAKE and press START one time while holding the brake down.