What Car Q&A May 2010 - What is stability control?

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Q) What is Electronic Stability Control? I’ve just bought a car that has it, but the handbook doesn’t explain what it is. It just tells me how to switch it off.
Philip Humphries


A) Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is designed to prevent your car skidding when cornering, which could result in you losing control of the car. It does this by altering the power output of the engine, and/or applying the brakes to some or all of the wheels to keep the car on your intended line.

According to the European Commission, stability control systems such as ESC reduce the number of accidents by around 20% in normal driving conditions. As a result, there have been calls to make them mandatory on all new cars.

Leave the system switched on – it’s there for your safety. The only time you may need to switch it off is when climbing a steep gradient in snowy conditions, because a small amount of wheelspin is sometimes required to dig the tyres through the snow.

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