Wednesday, January 11, 2006

ABS and Traction Control Make You Lazy

Of course, old timers said the same thing about automatic transmissions... The Times (UK) took 30 drivers out on a closed course like the ones used to show off new cars in the commercials and found that most of them are so spoiled by the anti-lock brakes and traction control systems on their late model Volvos and Subarus that they couldn't keep control of a "vintage" 1991 BMW 3-car, which relies solely on Sir Isaac Newton to hug the road, on rough and loose road surfaces.

FYI, ABS is an air hammer to quickly pump and release the brakes when braking suddenly; in the vintage car, you have to do this yourself if the brakes lock. And traction control brakes the power wheels when it senses the wheels are spinning faster than the speedometer is accelerating; shifting to a lower gear on the transmission works, or you can just left off the accelerator and then accelerate slowly on the second try. The "heading into 360 spins" the article mentions is prevented by stability (yaw) control in modern braking systems; turning into the yaw curve as you back off the accelerator and then reapplying the accelerator acheives the same thing. Nothing a human driver can't do with training.

Or buy the "ultimate geek car," which you just power on and gently steer toward your destination according to Mercedes-Benz.

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