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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Being in Northern California, I opted for the package #3 without VSC. They do not offer the #4 VSC package here.

Well, coming back from Tahoe the other day, I had chains on. Took a left hand turn onto the highway a little too fast and did a fishtail and subsequent 180. Luckily, I made sure there were no cars in sight before making this turn. Even with chains, the car had no where near the stability of my 4x4. My Outback does not have VSC but the traction from the rear wheels definitely helps though.

I am guessing that the VSC would have prevented this by limiting my speed into the turn. Question, is there any way to add VSC to my car? Question 2, can a driver be trained enough to perform almost as well as VSC?
 

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"Question 2, can a driver be trained enough to perform almost as well as VSC?"
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Probably YES but maybe with somewhat slower reaction time than a computerized VSC. I forced my VSC into corrective mode on an empty wet parking lot last year. It just would not let me hang out (slide) the rear end so I know it works. I grew up driving in snow country and it was just a way of life when I learned to drive. Find an open space where there's some room for error and practice. Learn to respect but not FEAR road conditions.
 

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Yep. VSC monitors yaw rate and applies the brakes to individual wheels many times a sec to regain control. A driver pressing on the brake engages braking on ALL four wheels.
 

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AWD doesn't have more traction in the situation mentioned, i.e. taking a turn too fast on an icy road with chains on. That AWD myth (mostly due to false marketing) needs debunking. The only time AWD helps is when the vehicle is accelerating by providing 2 additional wheels of drive. For example, driving up an icy hill where 2WD might not be enough. However, AWD is useless regarding entering an icy turn too fast in which case you'll be braking not accelerating, and the traction at issue is controled braking and lateral slippage.

If one is a stunt driver and can fishtail and then accelerate out of it.... maybe AWD matters, but that's extremly reckless driving anyways and not reccomended. Also, unless it's a Subaru or other low height AWD vehicle, it's risking roll over. The poster mentioned Subaru Outback which is one of the best AWD vehicles becasue it's also low and has relativly large tire/pavement contact patches relative to vehicle weight, unlike most SUV or pickups. For serious snow/ice driving I'd reccomend a Subaru, lower the better, and importantly: with VSC aka ESC.

Tires do matter on icy roads, but winter tires can be put on any vehicle for equal effect. A big AWD SUV may look impressive, and they're marketed like crazy as being rugged and such, but in reality they're only better at snowplowing, real offroading, and going up steep icy roads. On ordinary icy roads like the turn mentioned above, they get no better traction at all, and in some ways are worse due to rollover risk. Chains negate whatever type of tires are underneath pretty much. Some chains are better than others though.

VSC (and to a lesser degree just antilock brakes) are the only technologies other than tires that will help in the above loss of traction situation.

About VSC retrofits, if the poster really wants to know, and assuming this topic isn't a troll, obviously the dealership would be the place to ask, but I'm pretty sure the answer is no on retrofits. I'd reccomend putting on snow tires next time and just driving slower.

Btw, I recently deliberatly engaged the VSC on a wet and leaf covered downhill road by braking hard and manuvering slightly, just to test it without taking any risk. After a couple preliminary tests starting @ 20mph and gradually increasing manuvering, I got it to engage very breifly at about 40mph with a slight manuver. It was beautiful. VSC icon came on, anti-locks activated, and the car never deviated from the desired steering input. Sweet. I felt confident it could have been pushed a lot further than I'd ever want to deliberatly.

Of course I wouldn't push it on icy roads with high speeds, or sharply turning freeway offramps in the rain and such, it's not magic afterall. But it did greatly increase driving confidence to know it works, and it's there to correct some amount of driver error or enhance emergency control.
 

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Reminds me of an interesting conversation (true story) I had with a driver I pulled over for speeding on snow and ice covered roads.

Him- "Officer, I have four wheel drive"

Me- "Sir, we ALL have four wheel stop"

I still chuckle about it. BTW, it was the first time I ever gave a ticket for 35 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. I won too! (most cars were going about 20 and he just zipped by everyone. It was a very scary attempt to stop.
 

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"it was the first time I ever gave a ticket for 35 MPH in a 35 MPH zone."
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One wonders how fast you had to go to catch him..?
Since he wasn't exceeding the speed limit.. what was the actual violation..?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Violation was probably unsafe speed for prevailing conditions. They can do that of course.

The thing with snowing conditions is that there is a lot of variability in driver and car ability. As a result, the lowest common denominator is probably 20 mph for a 2wd car with chains, even though a skilled driver in an awd could handle 35-40 mph.
 

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I kinda wonder if gee-whiz-bang technologies like VSC encourages taking more risk. It reminds me of the guys with avalanche tranceivers, who figure they can get dug out of an avalanche because the magic tranceiver will save the day. They take way too much risk and get killed by the trauma of the avalanche.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I agree with that MT. It's just that without VSC one needs to develop a feel for the when the limits of the vehicle come into play, and that requires some practice and training. The good thing about VSC is that it won't let you get to that point in the first place.

And yes, transceiver beacons often inspire more risk-taking in the backcountry. They are no substitute for education and training.
 

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SgtKarl said:
Reminds me of an interesting conversation (true story) I had with a driver I pulled over for speeding on snow and ice covered roads.

Him- "Officer, I have four wheel drive"

Me- "Sir, we ALL have four wheel stop"

I still chuckle about it. BTW, it was the first time I ever gave a ticket for 35 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. I won too! (most cars were going about 20 and he just zipped by everyone. It was a very scary attempt to stop.
Sarge brings up a great point! Up here in Minnesnowta, every first snow of the season finds the ditches filled with vehicles, largely SUV's. Invariably you hear the excuses, "It was really bad because I have four wheel drive and still went in the ditch!". These people (read MORONS) think that their 4X4 makes them invincable and imune to any slipping or sliding.
 
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