Just last week, a reader wrote in to ask about the abbreviations for a few common car safety terms, namely ABS, TSC and ESC. They wanted to know what these magical letters meant, and why they are important in vehicles today. To answer these questions, we came up with this article to best explain these safety systems and how it can potentially save you when you’re driving.
ABS (Anti-lock Braking System)
Often confused with the abdominal muscle or “abs”, ABS is certainly not related to the body part. Known as Anti-lock Braking System, ABS prevents the wheels on your vehicle to lock or suddenly stop moving when sudden or hard braking is applied. The system works by braking successively to provide better control to the driver in various situations and decrease stopping distances in an emergency.
TCS (Traction Control System)
While ABS is used to regulate braking and is focused on stopping your vehicle, the Traction Control System stops your wheels from slipping when you’re accelerating. The system works remarkably well in low traction situations like rain and snow by providing just enough throttle application and intervening when there is too much power. The result of this allows the balance of throttle and traction while on various road surfaces.
The system is so good that it has been banned in Formula 1, where competitive racing now requires the skills of the driver to modulate the throttle and be quickest off the line.
ESC (Electronic Stability Control)
Also known as ESP (Electronic Stability Program), VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) or DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), this safety system is touted as the best safety system when your vehicle goes sideways. How this works during emergency avoidance is through sensors in the vehicle that accounts for ABS, steering and throttle by assessing the potential skid, cutting power and applying the necessary brakes to counteract the slide. While in Singapore most vehicles sold today would have ESC as standard, the used car market might have a few vehicles without it. We at Carsome certainly recommend these technologies in your vehicle, as well as advocating safe and responsible driving always.
Here's a video episode from Fifth Gear demonstrating the effects of vehicles with ESC and those without.
To know how to avoid hydroplaning, click here to read on Hydroplaning and How To Avoid Them.