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Does traction control help in mud? | traction control vs lockers on off-roading

Traction control may not help you much on mud , sand or snow off-roading due to different reasons. Main reason is traction control system automatically cut the power to the slipping wheels.

It’s useful for mostly for driving on roads. But when doing serious off roading that power cut to the slipping wheels is a disadvantage.

We’ll talk about this deeply in this guide.   But overall in off-roading there are instances where traction control is helping to beat terrains.

In this article we’ll see how traction control, stability control and lockers will affect different off-roading activities.

So that this is going to be a very exciting article, read further.


Simple explanation on how traction control and stability control works


Basically traction control is limit the unnecessary  spinning of wheels when wheels loss their traction.

Normally differential of a axle is tend to give the torque transfer from engine, to the wheel that has a least traction.

That means if a wheel lifted from the ground due to uneven terrain that lifted wheel get the torque and spin freely.

Other wheel of that same axle can’t spin because torque doesn’t transfer to that wheel or else torque transfer to that wheel is reduced.

This is a major problem for off-roading vehicles. They stuck often because this unnecessary wheel spinning.

As a solution for this problem diff lockers were created for old vehicles.

It lock the both wheels of an axle together from the differential to spin both of them in same speed. By this above problem was solved.

But in modern vehicles they have computer units to control some of the functions of vehicle.

So that now vehicles have modified electronic control systems to minimize the unnecessary wheel spins and keep the necessary traction on different road conditions.

Traction control system.

This is controlled by a computer unit with the help of ABS (anti lock breaking system) and also with fuel control units.

What happens here is when a wheel is lost it’s traction that signal is taken by the computer unit.

Because if a wheel lost it’s traction it spin more than other wheels.

That wheel spinning speed difference is taken by the computer unit and it get to know, that wheel is lost it’s traction.

So that computer unit send signals to ABS for apply brake to that wheel. By that way brake pads clamps that wheel and slow down it.

Because of that the torque comes from the engine can flow to other wheel and move the vehicle.

But this this system reduces the torque produced by engine with controlling the fuel flow.

This is because to save the vehicle from accidents can be happen by sudden traction get due to the previously mentioned activity of the traction control system.

By reducing the torque of the engine vehicle will smoothly move, even the driver press the gas paddle in to the bottom.

Stability control system.


This also work in cooperate with traction control system, but more systems are involved in this.

Main purpose of this system is to prevent unnecessary slides of the vehicle and drive the vehicle smoothly reducing accidents.

How traction control system affects off-roading on mud ?


I told you that traction control systems don’t help you much on mud,sand or snow. Yes that’s correct.

Because on those terrains wheels should have some spinning to cut through the loose or slippery surface and find the grip under those surfaces.

But too much unnecessary wheels spinning on those terrains also can be trap you. I had discuss those things in previous articles.

But with this traction control on, that wheel spinning is reduced or stopped by the system. Other thing is this system cut the power of the engine.

So if you stucked on mud traction control doesn’t help you to get out.

If you have done some off-roading on sleeky mud ruts sure you should have this experience.

Wheels should spin to find a good grip and move you forward.

If the spinning wheels are braked by ABS and engine torque reduced how could you move forward.

So you have to select those system wisely according to the situation for increase vehicle’s performance when off-roading.

How traction control affect in ascending off-road steeps?


In modern vehicles there are more developed traction control system to beat different terrains in off-roading.

Those computer systems do a great job to control unnecessary wheel spins while tranfering required torque to other wheels to keep moving when off-roading.

When doing rock crawling, climbing steep hills on off roads which have slippery uneven surfaces or rocks, pits and gravel, this traction control system gives a good support to move on.

Most of the time if this control system turn off,  wheels will spin unnecessarily and stuck without moving anymore.

For those kind of off-roading purposes traction control system helps much.

But if you feel like vehicle don’t move due to reduction of power then you have to think about turning it off and engaging diff lockers if your vehicle have them.

How do diff lockers affect ascending off-road steeps?


Even diff lockers are bit old school it will work much better with good drivers, some times than these modern computer systems.

As I mentioned earlier diff lockers mechanically lock the differential.

So that torque comes from engine will transfer equally to the both wheels of the axle.

That means even one wheel of a axle loss it’s traction vehicle move forward by other three wheels.

There’s no power reduction of the engine like in traction control system.

Here driver have to do some job to manually control his vehicles speed.

Other wise sometimes rocks or something under the vehicle can cause damages in some off-roading activities like rock crawling.

But in traction control system it will take care of the sudden movements of the vehicle.

If the driver doesn’t control his throttling, control unit will reduce engine torque and apply brake automatically.

I had wrote a separate in-depth guide on diff lockers. How they works and how to use them efficiently while off-roading.

You can get a better understanding about diff-lockers from that. To read it click here.

Now I think you got the idea of how the traction control system works in off-roading.

You have to use it according to your situation. Applying  technology in the correct situation is the most important fact, when off-roading.

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Have fun and safe off-roading !!



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