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Guitar74
Gearhead

A little experiment

So around 2016, or maybe 2017, we had three separate occasions where late model 5.0 mustangs ended up on their roofs in pretty much the same spot. I was left thinking to myself, "With all of the supposed driver aids that are supposed to enhance the driver's ability to keep the shiny side up, how does this happen?"

 

Fast forward to today. Usually at least once a week, I pick up mom's '08 Grand Marquis and take it to work to keep it from just sitting. Since we had a monsoon, I decided to see what the traction and stability control would actually do in a traction deficient environment in a car that had enough torque to actually lose grip, and enough weight to get unstable and make the rear step out around a corner. 

 

So as luck would have it, the intersection where Christian Circle and GA 20 meet was clear and I was moving around 20 mph around a wet corner with all of the slick intersection paint. I nailed the gas. The rear end started to step out, and that is when BOTH systems took effect. What happened? The act of cutting the throttle, and randomly hitting different corner brake systems actually worked AGAINST me when I did what I already knew how to correct the rear end drift. It made it worse in every way. Thankfully, I was prepared for this and was ready to shut off the traction system and take control of the car and physically correct it. If I had left the systems on to "accentuate" my correction, I would have either been in oncoming traffic, the ditch, or facing the wrong direction.

 

While this was "less than scientific", I have arrived at a few thoughts on "driver aid" systems. The first being that the computer can only sense a few things and will NEVER be able to take the place of a competent driver. PERIOD. The second is that artificial traction is NOT traction. The traction control sucks in comparison of say a torque biasing limited slip which was already in production and would have been WAY cheaper than, for example, the R&D that went into developing a system that doesn't work very well. 

 

Based on my experience this morning, I now know how three mustangs with double the power and probably 1000lbs less weight ended up sliding down the hill at the intersection of Parker Rd and Flat Shoals Rd. It makes perfect sense now. It also makes perfect sense as to why I laid waste to the late model 'Stang in my Cougar. The traction control REALLY pulls back the power. If he had a good limited slip, good tires, and knew how to launch, he would have decimated me.

 

My advice? If you buy a late model 'Stang, just buy a good torque biasing limited slip and get some real grip. If you don't know, or aren't sure if you can keep up with the kind of power in that particular chassis, then work up to driving it hard. 

 

 

30 REPLIES 30
Sajeev
Community Manager

Well I wouldn't be surprised of those Mustangs were probably going faster, had less tread on their rear tires and maybe even had aftermarket ECU tunes that eliminated all the torque management/lazy throttle response: those three things would absolutely overwhelm a stability control system and make the situation far different than what you experienced in your MGM. 

 

I have been very happy with the stability control on my 2011 Ranger when road conditions get bad (or bad-ish): be it on icy patches or 2-4" of snow, the system did a fantastic job accelerating, braking and steering even with all season tires and only a little bit of weight in the bed (50-75 lbs). 

Guitar74
Gearhead

No doubt they were going faster. In every case you could see the tread marks that showed the exact moment they ran out of talent, or had the computer decide that it had more than them, as well as the paint and debri marks leading up to the final resting place. In every case the cars slid probably 100 ft. or more. I felt for one guy as he still had the drive out tag. I think it is around 100 feet from the top of the hill to the stop light. 

 

I am glad it works for you. I would just caution you, and of course I can tell that you are more than capable of knowing your limits anyhow, to be well aware of how close the system gets you into the point of no return if you end up in a hairy situation, which I also hope you don't find yourself in.

Sajeev
Community Manager

It seems to work fantastic with smooth inputs and transitions from the driver, which is what I was doing at the time since driving in frozen conditions is rare for me. 

Guitar74
Gearhead

There's the unobtainium. I would be willing to bet that your inputs had as much to do with it as the system. 

Sajeev
Community Manager

Possibly.  In a truck with an antiquated suspension design (at least in the rear) and tricky handling when unloaded, you gotta be smooth if you want to stay right side up. 

RonD
Intermediate Driver

What! All season tires!?!

jonZ
Instructor

I agree with guitar. Our daily drivers both have the t&s feature but we are hesitant to use it. If the driver is attentive and knows how to drive in those conditions the t&s system can complicate things.  I prefer manual operation over automatic operation anytime.  guess it's ok 

Guitar74
Gearhead

Yeah. From my experience yesterday morning, I will leave the control in my hands forevermore. 

 

DUB6
Technician

Just a random thought here: when did it become unfashionable to just drive safely given the conditions?  You know, slow down, maintain braking distance, anticipate emergencies, always have an exit strategy, etc.?  Seems to me that people (broad generality here) figured that as cars got faster, lighter, more powerful, etc., they just had to invent artificial means (i.e. - "systems") to help them control things. So that then gave them an excuse to forget the basics and "drive like my car will save my @$$ when I screw up(what my dad used to call writing checks that I couldn't cash).

   I used to drive long-haul trucks all over the U.S. and parts of Canada.  Have had dozens of high-performance cars.  Off-roaded in some pretty gnarly country.  Never have had a serious accident in 57 years of licensed driving.  Lucky?  Probably.  But I'm gonna give a lot of credit to the fact that I don't try to do things that my training and spidey-sense tells me are beyond my and my vehicle's abilities to handle.

   In other words, "I don' need no stinkin' computer systems to take over my driving"!

Sajeev
Community Manager

I think it became unfashionable when all the safety features people take for granted significantly lowered the fatality rate: seat belts, constantly improving crush structures, big disc brakes with ABS, air bags, etc. 

DUB6
Technician

So, it's the same thing as "we'll put in a stop sign after someone gets killed here"?  Meaning, as long as we (people, again in general) perceive we're safe, we don't feel the need to exercise good judgement in order to actually be safe?

Sajeev
Community Manager

Probably not??? Most people don't know how effective all these safety features are and now they have evolved since the 1960s and 1970s. Air bags are significantly different than the ones used in 1970s GM products, crash structures changed significantly since the 1967 collapsable steering column mandate, ABS is a bit smarter than the systems used in the 1970s Chrysler Imperials, traction control is far smarter than the system on my 1995 Lincoln Mark VIII. This is also assuming people know these features exist, as some aren't visible like a stop sign. 

 

Now if stop sign safety has evolved in the last 50 years and I didn't know about it... 🙂 

jonZ
Instructor

Can't anybody just drive any more?? I wonder. Is your car trying to out maneuver you when you're trying to use your experience and skills.....does the cars computer (artificial Intel) take over? Sajeev makes a good point that collapsible steering columns, crush structures and air bags and other safety features are good.  But on the other hand...... I'm concerned that the cars built in safety devices will defeat an experienced drivers ability, and give new drivers a false sense of security. I believe that built in safety features are good, but also take my ability to get out of a jam.  

DUB6
Technician

'Zactly.  I hate to get all "i, robot" on everybody, and I certainly do think that some of the tech advances and automation in our world are beneficial.  But mankind has a problem: we tend to think that if we had a little bit of success by inventing something, more will be better.  And then more complexity will be even better.  And so on.  So instead of just inventing a cigarette lighter that automatically pops out when hot, we decide that a fully autonomous car will be the bee's knees.  Then folks can light their cigarettes without taking their eyes off the road.  No matter that we've already decided that smoking is bad and removed the lighter.  We've "improved the entire driving experience" and made driving skill, good judgement, practice, thinking ahead of the headlights, and using "safety first" outdated.  The car will do all of that for us...except for when it doesn't.  Then what?

   Of course, I'm from the 1950s, so soon I'll be decomposing into oil just like the other dinosaurs, but I'm still a believer in just learning to be a good driver, maintaining good equipment (you know, I don't really NEED my car to tell me I have a low tire), and trying to use what little brainpower granted me to THINK and keep myself out of situations - but be able to handle them if and when they happen.

   Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it 😉

Rob1
Instructor

The wife and I travel a fair amount thru the spring/fall pullin a horse trailer to various locations and events,she drives the rig herself a good percentage of the time I insisted that we have a pickup that was more than capable to handle the loads hence a one ton.And sitting around at these events or camp outings I get talking with others about towing, on a all to regular basis I see half ton trucks pulling goose neck trailers this to me is illegal and dangerous braking systems/steering/tire ratings and overall frame rigidity is just not there let alone the RGVW yea it costs us way more for yearly safety's and license plates but if something terrible did happen the insurance company doesn't have a easy out by saying pulling beyond the trucks capability.What does this have to do with Guitars original post, nothing  modern day electronics can help with when poor judgement and recklessness are in play I see minivans loaded with people and luggage pullin 21 foot inboard boats down the 4 lane passing me I just cringe all the computer wizardry in the world will not save their bacon if things get weird as we live in a tourist type area the loads I see go by here are scary I understand this is not so much a manufacturers issue stupidity rules supreme.What the future holds we will see but we feel much safer rolling down the road in a heavy truck over speced for the load we haul a drive itself vehicle not in this ole guys future.Cheers R

JimR
Instructor

Solely because it’s pulling a goose-neck doesn’t mean a half-ton truck is anywhere near overweight or unsafe at all. Indeed, it might be safer than a 3/4 ton truck with a bumper- pull trailer of equal or even lesser weight. 

As a former Emergency Vehicle driving instructor I can testify that the world is full of people who think they’re better/smarter drivers than they really are. That includes your’s truly when I attended my first instructor class...and still occasionally in my sports car. That’s one of the reasons its fun.

While I’m not generally a fan of nanny-ism, drivers aids usually are good things. And driver aids don’t get you into trouble, but they don’t always overcome over-confidence and bale you out either. 
You are almost always the limiting factor. 

Rob1
Instructor

@JimR Sorry Jim didn't need to imply that all goose neck trailers fit the unsafe overweight factor these that i speak of have 4 horse capability so roughly 3600 lbs animal weight plus a 5800 ish pound trailer plus tack/ saddles/and extras say 6 to 800 lbs so with a overall weight of 10000 ish thats way over a half tons safe limit and that is if its not a living quarters trailer.Having pulled goose /fifth wheel/and hitch pull I agree totally with the assertion of the safety of a goose/fifth my real point was the RGVW of most 1500 series trucks dont allow for the capacity that I regularly see on the turnpike any and all setups that yours truly has run down the road I first take it to our D.O.T local weight station and have it checked out as well as the trucks capacity and have them give it a nod.Cheers R

DUB6
Technician

   Almost always better to be "over" equipped than "under", or even just "adequately"...

   I'm sure we've all witnessed the type of scenario you've described on roadways near us or while on road trips.  I fact, just this morning, I was forced to swing into the bike lane as a grossly over-trailered 1/2-ton Ram P/U sent its huge trailer into my lane when he had to tromp on the brakes because of traffic in front of him.  So, combined with the wrong weight-to-capacity ratio, his excessive speed for the conditions nearly caused me to be side-swiped.

   I would love to think that law enforcement should be able to set up random roadside scales and ticket loads that don't match up to the gross weight or towing capacity regs, but the truth is, in most areas with a lot of traffic, it would be impractical to the point of impossibility.

   So it remains to us - as safe and responsible drivers - to check our mirrors and see if some airhead is overtaking us with a potential trailer problem, and do whatever it takes to protect ourselves.  As I was taught in Driver's Ed way back in the early '60s, "Drive Defensively"!

JimR
Instructor

    “ Almost always better to be "over" equipped than "under", or even just "adequately"...”

I disagree. A decently maintained 1/2 ton truck is just fine for the majority of towing tasks the average owner will have. And you don’t have the cost of purchase, size, increase fuel cost and other baggage that comes with 3/4 ton. For many, like me, larger is largely unnecessary, especially with a “tow package” and modern trailers. 
I’m not certain where you guys are driving and I know there’s always the lowest common denominator, but I rarely see the issues you describe. In fact I see a lot more of what I call “compensator  trucks”...way more truck than the owner will ever need...often with a spotless receiver. A free society and free market are wonderful things. 👍

 

 

DUB6
Technician

Oh yeah, I agree with the mass of "compensator trucks", that will likely never even haul a load or a trailer, or even get off the pavement.  But those aren't the ones who are risking their own lives - and others around them - by unsafely towing with undersized vehicles.  I get what you say about buying way too much truck just because, but I will tell you, that at least here in the Idaho area, there are plenty of 1/2-ton trucks pulling toy-trailers, horse-haulers, hay wagons, and even scrap loads that far exceed their safe capacity down the freeway on a daily basis.  It only takes one of them to create a major disaster, that the guy in the compensator truck will cluck his tongue at while driving around the accident scene.

   Weight is still weight, length is still length, and brakes are still brakes, no matter how modern the rig is.  Physics dictate a lot of what's going to happen at speed with a mass of metal doing 75 mph on rubber and asphalt.

   I'm all for a free society, but certain freedoms, when they interfere with my and my family's safety on the road, need to be examined a little more closely.

Guitar74
Gearhead

Wow. I sure did open a can of worms with this topic. 

 

My final thought on the matter is the following: I remember when Volvo REALLY started marketing themselves in the 90s. All I can hear in my head on the radio ads is, "the world's safest car". When I was on the road, my BIG observation was, "bought by the world's worst drivers". NO amount of nannyism will ever take the place of skill, common sense, knowing one's limits, and having/using good judgement.

 

Making laws to "revisit" some of those freedoms because one feels that they are at risk by others using poor judgement is as bad an idea as the fellow using poor judgement. Why? Because, and this is a little less than scientific (much like my little test), you have a cause of an accident, and the results. Just because this guy is a danger with his overloaded vehicle doesn't mean that the others around him are less of one. It's not up to me or anyone else. MY responsibility is to identify the hazard, and avoid it. 

 

Many a free society has fallen, and many an individual liberty has been taken away in the world's history in the name of "saving people from themselves". The result? More freedoms taken away, and those that are "protected" are no more than they were before some bureaucrat used his pen to "keep them safe". Example: look at how our society becomes less and less able to take care of itself all the while relying on government, technology, and everyone but themselves to solve their own problems. 

 

And to think, this started out as a traction control test.

DUB6
Technician

I don't remember exactly where I said that new laws should be enacted to take away freedoms.  I think I said - or at least was trying to say - that I wish some of the offenders could be ticketed for violating weight restrictions and/or driving unsafe vehicle/trailer combinations.  In other words, being cited for laws that are already on the books.  Now, true, I can't really quote the exact statutes, so maybe I'm dreaming a pipe-dream.  But I'm hard pressed to see where what I said that we should start taking away individual freedoms and dismantle liberty.  That seems a little reactionary to my intent, which was really just to say that unsafe drivers or vehicles are a threat to others, and as such I wish there was more that law enforcement could do about it, not just making me 100% responsible for other's actions.  However, if that comes across as preaching that I'm advocating that jack-booted thugs be allowed to bring in the black helicopters and take your steering wheel from you cold, bloody fingers, I guess I'm not very good at sending my message...

   Also, it's not a crime to disagree with me.  If it were, nearly everyone I know would be serving out their sentences right now, as they all do it fairly often! 😁

Guitar74
Gearhead

I didn't take it that way. I was just trying give a warning about going down that path. I guess to put in perspective, I will tell you of an experience with doing some work for our local Public defender a few years ago.

 

One of the guys I am buds with looked a little stressed and VERY busy. I made the comment about it being a sign of the times to which he replied, "Or way too many laws," as he pulls out a book that would make the Bible look like a paper back short story and proceeds to inform me that THAT book was just the laws put on the books for 2013. The comment made about the average Georgian breaking at least two laws on the way to work gave me a moment of pause even if it was a bit of an exaggeration. 

I never took what you said as wanting a nanny state. On the flip side, I hope I didn't come across as an arm flailing "Alex Jones er".

 

Rob1
Instructor

LOL @Guitar74 well said the great thing is the passion for what we drive and our own personal opinions that all car and truck people have and respect to all,just the thought of the driving experience being lessened and or taken away by autonomous vehicles does spur debate and emotions and its all good the car culture is still alive and well dont be afraid to pry open another can its educational to read a cross section of others thoughts.Cheers R 

jonZ
Instructor

I wish I could put things in words like you guys. The truth is I'm just an old red neck that believes safety first, safety last, if you aint safe you'll kill your a--! My wife and I both drive trucks as our dailies. She drives a 2014 Ram 1500 (half ton) 4x4 extended cab with the 5.7L Hemi V8. I drive a 2015 Ford 4x4 crew cab F250 (3/4ton) XLT Super Duty with the 6.2L V8. We pull cattle and hay trailers and to tell you the truth, we can't tell any difference between the two. Hang in there guys.

Guitar74
Gearhead

I think the only difference I would be able to tell is the payment. You communicate as well as anyone else on here. Don't sell yourself short.

jonZ
Instructor

Hey Guitar, Thanks for the vote of confidence. I worked for Southern Company / Alabama Power Co. for 39 years. The last 16 of which I was a technical writer. Power Plant Operating and Maintenance procedures. All things I was experienced in. But to just sit and type my thoughts and feelings leaves allot to be desired. I see where you had a gig with a local Public defender. I got pulled over a couple months ago for an expired tag. When I put on a mask in the presence of the officer he had me remove it. Said he had to smell my breath. Is an expired tag probable cause for this? I seldom drink so there wasn't a problem with that but it got next to me pretty bad. I mean I'm glad he spotted the tag (now I'm pissed at the DMV for not sending a renewal notice). I guess the social distancing and mask thing doesn't apply during a traffic stop.

Guitar74
Gearhead

I guess I should have clarified WHAT it was I did for the PD. I did a remodel job so I probably would be the LAST person with whom you should seek legal advice. 

 

Way off topic, but one day I walked in with my tool belt over my shoulder and a prospective client was in the waiting room. Not wanting to be rude, said hello to which he responded by asking if I was there doing community service. I couldn't resist and spun a pretty good tale that had him salivating. It was basically,"Man, I knocked over a liquor store. But that wasn't the end of it. I would have gotten away clean if I hadn't gotten pulled over for drag racing. That would've been the end of it if they hadn't found a kilo of cocaine in my trunk. I'm telling you, these guys are that good." 

 

My friend and the PD were close enough to the glass window to hear the whole exchange. My friend was laughing. The PD was a little upset, but still found it funny. His response was,"Do you realize how much more pressure I am under now?"

 

I just couldn't help it. The idea that I walk in and the immediate conclusion drawn from him was that I was there against my will as some sort of debt repayment to society just got me in the mood to mess with someone.

DUB6
Technician

   I went to High School with a guy who ended up being a PD for somewhere around 40 years.  Why someone stayed in a job like that rather than going to a firm or hanging out a shingle, I don't really know, but I'm kinda glad he did.  Because whenever a group of us oldies-but-goodies get together, this guy has at least a half-dozen stories to tell (like probably the guy in whose office you pulled your prank, Guitar74, also does).  Some of the tales are real doozies.  Leads me to think that Public Defenders probably get some of the weirdest, wildest, funniest stories, based on their clientele.

jonZ
Instructor

My bad Guitar. I guess I jumped to conclusions about the gig with the PD. Sortta like the dude did about you being in the office working on the re-model. I understand the pressure the law officers are under, especially now with the political climate as stormy as it is and the way officers are frowned upon in certain communities. I couldn't do it. In regards to the Public defenders, I suppose somebody has to do it. Like DUB6 said, with a degree in law they could prolly rake in a bunch more in private practice or going with a firm. Must be a calling to do some some good for folk who can't afford a private Lawyer. Or possibly an appointment by the local courts. Hang in there yall!!!