I appreciated my car’s ABS tonight - deer near miss!

I stomped the brake pedal and stopped smoothly and the deer continued on as if nothing had happened.

Oh come on. You didn’t get a picture? What were you thinking?


I’ve been amazed by ABS a few times… Sure wrecks avoided.

It works great you’d have to be one of the greater race car drivers to out brake ABS with your own threshold braking in a panic situation especially on bad surfaces. Anyone thinking otherwise is kidding themselves.

Well said. When ABS was first becoming standard I was in the “I can do a better job” camp. I was also much younger and a little more foolish. After the first couple of winter panic stops taking full advantage of the ABS I was a permanent convert.

Of course, don’t forget the winter tires if your climate thus prescribes. Your brakes are useless if you can’t get any grip on the road surface.

and here I am
furious at my Forester
I was on a sheet of ice and wanted to skid

it so dutifully applied abs when i stomped on the brake. Boring
I want to do donuts on the lake in about three weeks when its got a foot of ice.

But i will settle on taking my learning to drive grandson out so he can discovers how a car handles on a slippery but roomily safe surface

Yes when it counts ABS is your friend

My Forester worries me sometimes. There is so little drama that I have no idea where the edge is. I can get the “Vehicle Dynamics Actuated” note to come on if I hit the accelerator making a 90 degree turn in 4+ inches of sloppy snow but the seat of my pants hardly notices & I just keep on going. I can get a bit of a slide by use of the hand brake but that’s not much.

My previous vehicle, a Jeep Liberty … that was a whole different story.

We can talk. I got my Christmas present early. I had wished for some deep snow to drive my new Subaru (Crosstrek) in. I never owned AWD before and wanted to see how it behaved. It did great. Not exactly sure how the traction control works on it but the car just plowed through the stuff. No little lights came on and I didn’t hear or feel the brakes grabbing. I do remember RPMs dropping. Took it out again with the traction control switched off and it still did great. Merry Christmas to all!

I have much less enthusiasm for traction control. Most systems limit engine RPM when wheel slip is detected. Some use the same actuators as the ABS to apply brakes to prevent wheel slip under acceleration. Sadly, you can only limit power so much until you JUST DON’T GO ANYWHERE. Sometimes you need to keep the wheels spinning a little to get beyond a slippery spot and onto a surface with better traction. Sure, the system can be turned off but if you aren’t expecting it you can be left without momentum and completely stuck. I have no doubt the algorithms have a difficult time balancing this, but I find the performance too often lacking. Maybe it works better for the people that just sit there spinning their wheels without realizing they aren’t moving anywhere.

AWD systems vary and some may be able to selectively send power to each wheel without using the brakes or cutting the engine power. This is much better, but more expensive all around.

Traction control has evolved enough that is not easy to feel happening. It can be pretty seamless. In the first car I drove with it, a rented The first car I rented with it, a 2013 Ford Escape, I feel it kicking in at times. But in my 2014 Rav4 it was barely discernible. And the light was on the bank of them that ran under the steering wheel. It tended to be hidden by the wheel so while I am sure it flashed. I just didn’t see it.

My ABS got interesting when having to brake while going over railroad tracks, but that was in '94.

If your car has abs turn and pull e brake I think it will spin. Use to do it in VW years ago.

I’m happy to represent the dissenting side on this issue.

As I said in another thread, ABS is fine on dry and wet surfaces, but when it’s snowy/icy it can be downright deadly, as when it’s really slippery, your vehicle will not stop. A classic situation is coming up to an intersection, which tends to be where ice accumulates when temps are well below freezing. You apply the brake and the car keeps right on rolling into the intersection, because the ABS will not allow **any **wheel lockup. Being able to lock one or both of the front wheels will often allow them to dig through whatever is on the road surface. It also allows snow to build up in front of the tires, which helps to slow the vehicle. ABS prevents both of these from happening.

Traction Control create similar problems. You try to pull out from a slippery intersection, expecting your tires to dig through the snow/ice, but ABS prevents any helpful wheel spin. Instead, you slowly creep out into the intersection, completely unable to get out of the way of any oncoming traffic. Your only hope of avoiding an accident is that the cross-traffic can stop in time on the same slippery surface.

When conditions are really slippery, both of these systems fail miserably and are potentially dangerous.

I also hate the fact that these systems completely eliminate your ability to “feel” the road surface, making it very difficult to gauge the available traction and adjust your driving accordingly. Driving in really bad conditions requires a nuanced approach, not simple on/off switches like ABS and TCS. While I don’t claim that I can equal or exceed their dry/wet road performance, I know from experience that I can make better decisions than they can in really slick conditions, as long as I can feel the road surface and modulate my right foot accordingly.

I’ve found myself in both of the situations described above enough times that I’ve realized that the only safe thing to do in our winters is to disable these systems. Fortunately, I only need to pull a single fuse to do so. Good riddance to them until spring! I would much rather have a switch that would allow me the flexibility of turning them off only when appropriate. Unfortunately, this not an option on many vehicles and I’m not sure that it’s even legal for car manufacturers to include switches anymore.

In support of bnystrom… yes, when I turned off the traction control on the Crosstrek I got to learn how AWD FEELS and behaves in deep snow. RWD feels one way. FWD feels another way. So THIS is how AWD does… got it. I did not know until I switched off the traction control.

This car is also the first I’ve had with a 6th forward gear. It’s a nice gas saver.

I have mixed feelings about ABS. Maybe ABS has gotten a lot better since 1995. I hope so. The ABS on my 1995 Chevy Blazer angers me at least as often as it pleases me. If I’m braking somewhat sharply on dry pavement and one tire hits a little piece of gravel, the ABS kicks for a full second and that’s how much time goes by before I have full braking power again, and that could easily be enough to cause a wreck that would have been avoided otherwise. On slushy roads, the ABS kicks in so strongly that the car really DOES take much longer to stop than is the case for any older, non-ABS car. I know this because locking up the parking brake will cause a sharp increase in braking action without exception, albeit with some loss in directional control (this parking-brake trick would also stop my 2003 GMC Sonoma pickup much faster on slush or wet snow than the regular brakes could accomplish with ABS operating). I once careened down a very long snowy steep hill because the ABS would not allow me to slow down below about 15 mph. I tromped on the pedal as hard as I could but couldn’t get below 15 mph. For some reason I failed to think of the parking-brake trick, and I know that would have stopped the car pretty quickly. Traction was kind of bad, but not nearly bad enough to slide down the hill unable to stop, because in four-wheel drive I could easily start from a stop going uphill without spinning a tire (I tried it several times to be sure), and I never had the slightest trouble or any slippage at all on the entire climb. In any of my previous cars I would have expected it to be possible to stop going down hill within a reasonably short distance, but in that car with ABS, once there was the slightest tire slip while braking, it was all over and there was no stopping until I got to the bottom. That’s when I realized I really needed to put a disabling switch on the ABS.

I agree with Bnystrom about traction control. My new GMC work pickup has traction control, and it totally sucks. I’ve been driving on snow and ice and mud all my life, and I know when to avoid spinning the tires and when tire-spinning is necessary. And when tire-spinning is necessary, I can quickly tell whether to barely spin them faster than my travel speed or really let 'em rip, or spin them somewhere in-between those two extremes. Every wheel-slip situation is different and traction control systems have no way of evaluating them. I’ve found that when things are quite slippery, traction control basically ensures that you won’t be getting more than halfway through an intersection before the traffic light turns red again. Thank goodness GM at least had enough sense to make the disabling switch for the traction control really BIG, so you can click it in a hurry when needed. Though I can see the theoretical advantage of controlling power to individual wheels, in my experience so far, traction control on my GMC pickup will never work anywhere nearly as well as an educated foot on the gas pedal, .

It’s good to know that there are still switchable systems on the market. Unfortunately, my car isn’t equipped with switches for either ABS or TCS and it looks way to complicated to try to add switches to the system. So, I have no choice other than to pull the fuse and live with the idiot lights on the dash through the winter. They join the light for the TPMS system, which is another “innovation” that I find to be basically useless. It worked fine for a few months and has not worked properly since. When I purchased snow tires and wheels, I wasn’t about to pay another $200 for the TPMS sensors. I know how to use a pressure gauge and keep one in the car.

ABS comes on and off 15 times a second. If you’re on a sheet of ice nothing’s stopping you.


40 times a second.

The greatest drivers in the world in Formula One used ABS until in was banned to show drivers skills in braking.

ABS leaves you will the ability to continue to steer.