Glossary of Safety Terms: Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)
Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)
What it is: Vehicle Stability Control is a computer-controlled system that helps the driver retain control of the vehicle during extreme cornering or in other emergency situations.
How it works: VSC utilizes technology from ABS and Traction Control, along with accelerometer technology from aerospace. A sophisticated microprocessor compares the rotational speed of the wheels, the throttle position, steering angle "yaw" (turning motion) and other factors to determine if the vehicle has suddenly lost grip in a corner and begun to "understeer" (where the front wheels slip or "plow" straight ahead) or "oversteer" (where the rear wheels slip or "fishtail"). When this happens the microprocessor sends signals to the brakes and throttle to help bring the car back on line. Engine output may be momentarily reduced and one or more wheels may be braked to help restore control.
What it feels like: Depending on the system, VSC may work seamlessly and invisibly to lend a helping hand when the driver has attempted to exceed the vehicle's handling capabilities, or it may be more abrupt, noticeably slowing the vehicle. The best-engineered systems work so quickly and accurately that the driver scarcely senses they're at work.
How it benefits the driver: VSC is one of the most effective electronic "helping hands" for drivers invented so far. By making the vehicle's handling more predictable in challenging situations, VSC can help the driver better maintain control and avoid an accident.