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Preventing Vehicle Skidding

Although electric vehicles have become increasingly popular in recent years, there are still many common car parts and components that are used across all types of cars, including hybrids, electric cars, and traditional combustion engine cars. These include the suspension system, steering components, brakes, tires, and wheels.

Modern vehicles rely on advanced onboard computers to oversee various crucial aspects, including the above-mentioned components. These sophisticated computers continuously analyse real-time driving conditions and establish communication with different vehicle parts to ensure prompt and precise responses. An excellent illustration of this is the electronic stability control (ESC) system, which utilizes cutting-edge technology to prevent vehicle skidding.

What causes a vehicle to skid?

A vehicle can experience skidding when it surpasses its traction limits, typically due to driving at excessive speeds considering the current road conditions. There are two common types of skids that can occur: oversteer and understeer. Oversteer happens when the rear of the vehicle loses traction, causing it to attempt to pass the front and resulting in the car spinning around. Conversely, understeer takes place when the front tires struggle to grip the road, causing the vehicle to continue moving straight despite the driver’s steering input. Skidding situations like these can be hazardous and often lead to severe accidents. For car enthusiasts, I highly recommend checking out Tuning 4 Performance.

What does ECS do?

ESC, which stands for Electronic Stability Control, is an advanced safety feature that plays a crucial role in reducing skidding incidents by a significant margin, up to 80%. The primary function of ESC is to continuously monitor the behaviour of the vehicle, including factors like its leaning or “rolling” angle, and to detect instances when the tires lose traction with the road surface. Once ESC identifies a potential skid, it promptly adjusts the engine speed and selectively applies braking to individual wheels, as necessary, to regain control and prevent the vehicle from spinning out.

However, it’s important to understand that the effectiveness of ESC is contingent upon the condition of the vehicle’s tires and suspension.

The ESC system operates under the assumption that both the suspension and tires are in good working condition, similar to when the vehicle was new. This is crucial because ESC calculates the appropriate corrective measures needed to avert skidding based on this assumption. In the event that the tires are worn or in poor condition, implementing the corrective measures suggested by the ESC system, such as applying the brakes to a specific wheel, may not be effective due to inadequate grip. This emphasizes the significance of regular tire monitoring and maintenance as a critical aspect of safe driving practices.

How do shock absorbers work?

On top of having well-maintained tires, shock absorbers play a critical role in maintaining optimal tire-road contact. These components function by allowing the vehicle’s coil springs to compress and absorb impacts from bumps, smoothly extending the springs back to their original ride height. This ensures that the tire maintains firm contact with the road surface, maximizing traction for steering and braking. Properly functioning shock absorbers, combined with well-maintained tires, ensure that a larger surface area of the tire remains in contact with the road, enhancing traction and overall vehicle performance. You could also choose to install lowering springs for your Alfa Romeo Estate for better handling and ride stability.

Similar to worn tires, if the ESC system instructs the rear left wheel to apply the brake, but the shock absorbers are worn, the car may still lack enough traction to prevent skidding.

Like other vehicle components, shock absorbers also experience gradual performance deterioration over time. This is primarily caused by the hydraulic oil used in most shock absorbers (including gas shock absorbers) passing through metal valves inside during compression and extension, resulting in wear.