The Truth About Cars » Stability Control http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 04:07:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Stability Control http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com New or Used: Seatown, not Snowtown! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/new-or-used-seatown-not-snowtown/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/new-or-used-seatown-not-snowtown/#comments Tue, 16 Oct 2012 14:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=463780

TTAC Commentator Horseflesh writes:

Hey Sajeev and Steve,

Winter is coming. Like any true Seattle suburbanite, I dread the debut of the white stuff. We’re so scared of snow up here that the local insurance company even aired commercials teasing us about it.

I have to admit, the truth hurts, and I am a big snow-baby, choosing to stay off the roads as much as possible. But sometimes, you have to drive. And here’s the question: I need a hand from the Best & Brightest on selecting a snowy steed, because I just don’t have enough experience to know which of our vehicles is best suited to the job.

Option One: 2010 Mini Cooper Clubman, with manual transmission and Michelin Ice-X snow tires. This car is front wheel drive, obviously, including an automagical “dynamic stability control.” Sometimes the DSC light on the dash comes on under hard cornering, so you can be sure that something is happening… but how helpful is the system behind the dashboard light? I have no idea.

Option Two: 2000 Impreza RS, with manual transmission and all-season tires. This is a normally aspirated sedan, with AWD 50/50 power split and a limited slip rear differential. It has no form of electronic stability control. Surprisingly, the Scooby only weighs about 100 lbs more than the Mini. Lastly, if it makes the difference in the Snow Day Showdown, I’ll put on snow tires.

Option Three: 2003 E350 cargo van, with automatic transmission and all-season tires. Weighing more than the other 2 cars put together, and featuring the refinement of a coal train, I cannot see this being a good choice. Also, it is glacier white. The inevitable wreck would therefore be well-hidden from first responders.

What say the B&B? Does a FWD car with stability control and snow tires beat an AWD car without either? If the AWD car gets snow tires, does that change the outcome? There is likely at least one long, snowy drive ahead of me this winter, so I very much appreciate any input.

Cheers!

Steve answers:

It’s a good thing you’re thinking about it. As a former resident of upstate New York, let me clue you in on a few things.

First off, both the Mini and the Impreza will be perfectly fine in the snow. Although I would favor the Mini due to the snow tires and the electronic stability control. All wheel drive will not save your bacon if you don’t have any traction for the wheels. Snow tires make that difference in real world driving.

Front wheel drive is fine for most regions (which is where by the way?).. Snow tires are even better. Electronic stability control is one more strong plus.

The Impreza would offer a bit more ground clearance if you have to commute in an area where the snowfall is near Buffalo levels and the public services are near Detroit levels. All things being equal, I would stick with the Mini. If you really want to improve your snow driving prowess I would encourage you to strike up a few local conversations and watch some Youtube videos.

Sajeev answers:

Aside from LSX-FTW, tires have the most impact to a car’s performance: various sizes, inflation pressures, tread designs and rubber compounds are in play.  The Econoline might be okay with a ton of ballast in the rear, but it’s the worst choice. The best is the rig with the snow tires.  Plus, it’s front wheel drive!

The MINI is the only choice, total no brainer. Unless you sell it and get a Panther with the aforementioned ton of ballast in the trunk.  I only say this because my first car (1965 Ford Galaxie, automatic, open differential) lived in Palouse most of its life, with snow tires and a couple of sandbags in the trunk for ballast. And if my relatives could tough it out (as if) in a Galaxie for decades, why not treat yourself to a Panther?

I’m just sayin’…who else could make this question all about Panthers???

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German Clunker Scheme Reduces Safety Equipment http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/german-clunker-scheme-reduces-safety-equipment/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/german-clunker-scheme-reduces-safety-equipment/#comments Thu, 06 May 2010 18:17:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=355581

The predominant critique of the cash-for-clunkers programs that have proven so popular in the US and Europe is that they cause unsustainable demand bubbles which cause sales to collapse after they expire. Sure enough, a look at the German market’s Q1 performance shows that the OEMs who most benefited from the program (primarily firms who focus on low-cost cars) are seeing far more significant declines than US-market firms have seen. In the first three months of this year, firms like Hyundai (-40%), Fiat (-58%), Suzuki (-54.6%) and Kia (-49.4%) have been suffering mightily from a hangover caused by the world’s most generous cash-for-clunker program. But the big news isn’t this small-car bust: it’s the fact that these firms’ success last year have caused the percentage of cars on German roads with electronic stability programs (ESP/ESC) to fall.

The April print edition of Auto Motor und Sport reveals that the percentage of ESP-equipped new car sales in Germany fell three percent in 2009 compared to 2008. Based on national insurance data, the magazine figures 78 percent of all vehicles sold last year had ESP equipped, but that 190k vehicles were sold without the safety equipment. This goes against long-standing trends that were driving German-market ESP-equipped percentages inexorably upwards: in 2006 only 58 percent of all nameplates on the German market had ESP as standard equipment, while last year a full 74 percent offered ESP as standard. The difference is that, by stimulating demand for the most stripped versions of the cheapest cars on the market, Germany’s C4C program incentivized consumers to buy non-ESP-equipped vehicles.

Granted, a three percent decline will hardly have the most dramatic effect on national highway safety in Germany. What this unintended consequence does bear on, however, is an EU-wide effort to make ESP standard on all vehicles. By 2012, the EU will require all new vehicle lines and commercial vehicles to come equipped with ESP, and by 2014 it will require that every vehicle sold in Europe be equipped with ESP. In the US, standard ESP will be mandatory for all new vehicles sold starting in 2012. The European Union has regularly bemoaned the fact that Europe lags behind NAFTA on ESP adoption rates, arguing that the deficit costs thousands of lives and millions of dollars.

With Germany’s cash-for-clunkers program now expired (after spending about $7b), it’s safe to assume that consumer safety concerns and government regulation will more than make up for the slide in ESP adoption caused by the program. Still, it’s likely that the EU will remember this decline in safety, and discourage any future clunker programs until mandatory ESP fitting becomes law in 2014. But then, if the German market hasn’t stabilized by then and needs additional assistance, the clunker hangover will have been far greater than even the most jaded skeptics had predicted.

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