A to Z of Car Tech: T is for traction control, tyres, and more
The letter T in our A to Z of car tech series looks at traction control, torque vectoring, and tyres…
The technology contained within the modern motor car can be both fascinating and slightly baffling. Most such technology exists to make our cars safer, more efficient and just better than ever to drive but some of it can be quite confusing for the average motorist. In this A to Z series we will attempt to unravel the mystery of technology that is the modern motor car. This week, we’re visiting the letter T…
T is for…traction control. Sometimes shortened simply to TC - although with most German manufacturers it’s known as ASR, referring to ‘engine slippage regulation’ – traction control systems limit an engine’s torque output and soften the throttle response when sensors detect that wheelspin is about to occur.
In extreme circumstances a traction control system will also tickle the brakes and limit the boost pressure on high-powered turbocharged cars. And as ever the whole set up depends upon electronics, the same electronics that control the anti-lock braking system, the cruise control, and so on.
T is for…torque vectoring. Not to be confused with straightforward traction control, a torque vectoring system effectively does two things. First, it varies the torque flow across the driven axle electronically whenever slip is detected on either side, much like a conventional limited slip differential.
And second, it also uses the braking system to eradicate slip by tickling the brakes when slip occurs on the unloaded inside wheel.
It gets a bit more complex than that, though, because the most sophisticated torque vectoring systems also monitor steering angle and wheel rotation speed - not just mid corner but on the way in and on the way out – to generate maximum grip whenever possible. Torque vectoring is expensive, and complex to fine tune, but the results are usually stunning when executed well.
T is for…tyres. Tyres, we all know, form the sole point of contact for a vehicle to the road. The first ever patent for a standard pneumatic tyre was granted in 1847, although prior to that tyres were made of all sorts of materials such as leather, iron or even wood on carts and wagons.
The modern road tyre is a complex animal and generally consists of a combination of synthetic rubber, natural rubber, chemical compounds, fabrics and wire.
Contemporary tyres come in many different dimensions, but all have a tread pattern and all have what’s known as a compound – which basically describes the ratio of the mixture of the above components, and tells us how stiff or soft they are.
In the simplest of terms, the tread pattern provides the basic traction of a tyre while the compound helps it develop grip, comfort and/or control.
Tyres, as they say, really are a dark art, which is why some are an awful lot more efficient than others.
Next, the letter U…
- 1IntroductionThe ultimate A to Z guide to the latest car technology, helping car buyers bust through the jargon and understand the benefits
- 2A is for adaptive cruise control, ABS, airbags and more...The letter A in our A to Z of Car Tech explains adaptive cruise control, ABS brakes, Adaptive Terrain response and auto dimming mirrors
- 3B is for Blind Spot Monitoring, brakes and moreThe letter B in our A to Z of car tech series...
- 4C is for chassis, connectivity and moreThe letter C in our A to Z of car tech explains chassis tech, connectivity, cruise control and carbon fibre
- 5D is for diesel, dampers and moreThe letter D in our A to Z of car tech explains diesel, dampers, dynamic drive and designers
- 6E is for electric vehicles, engines and moreThe letter E in our A to Z of car tech explains electric vehicles, economy modes, engines and exhausts...
- 7F is for fly-by-wire, four-wheel drive and moreThe letter F in our A to Z of car tech series is for four-wheel drive, fly-by-wire and future technology.
- 8G is for gearbox, and moreThe letter G in our A to Z of car tech examines how gearboxes work
- 9H is for headlights, head up display and moreThe letter H in our A to Z of car tech series explains headlights, head up displays and hill descent control
- 10I is for Inconel and in-car protectionThe letter I in our A to Z of car tech explains the nickel-chromium alloy Inconel, plus in-car protection in the form of airbags
- 11J is for J-GateThe letter J in our A to Z of car tech series looks at the infamous J-Gate automatic transmission
- 12K is for keysThe letter K in our A to Z of car tech series takes a look at the humble car key
- 13L is for limited slip diff, live infotainment and moreThe letter L in our A to Z of car tech series explains limited slip differentials, live infotainment, and much more
- 14M is for monocoques, metallic paint and mirrorsThe letter M in our A to Z of car tech series explains monocoques, metallic paint and mirrors…
- 15N is for navigationThe letter N in our A to Z of car tech series explains the history of navigation