Difference Between Traction Control & Stability Control

by Melissa Voelker

Anti-lock brakes, stability control and traction control can all be part of the safety features in your car. While ABS brakes may come standard in most modern automobiles, traction control and stability control may be optional features in more expensive luxury vehicles.


The traction control system in an automobile is designed to prevent the drive wheels from losing their grip on the road while the car is accelerating. The stability control system is designed to prevent the car from sliding when either the accelerator or brakes have been applied.


Both the traction control and stability control systems utilize speed sensors from the ABS brake systems. If the sensors detect that the wheels are not gripping correctly, traction control will use the brake system to slow the speed of the vehicle or reduce power to the wheels to slow the vehicle and restore grip. Stability control will use the ABS speed sensors along with its own steering wheel angle sensor and yaw rate sensor to check the rate of understeer and oversteer being used. It will then apply the brakes or throttle to the wheels so that the driver can regain control.


Depending on the automobile maker, the stability control and traction control systems can be labeled under several different names. These include Dynamic Stability Control (BMW), Electronic Stability Program (Volkswagen) and Dynamic Stability Traction Control (Volvo), among others.

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