What Is a Nissan Pathfinder VDC?

by Ronald Kimmons
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Bill Pugliano/Getty Images News/Getty Images

"VDC" is an abbreviation for "vehicle dynamic control." It also is known as "electronic stability control." This is a revolutionary active safety system, first developed by Bosch in 1995, that Nissan and other automobile manufacturers incorporate into their models. It is designed to automatically stabilize vehicles that would otherwise slide while cornering or braking. Most VDC systems do not require activation by drivers.


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Nissan used to have VDC as an option on the Pathfinder, and customers had to pay extra for it. As of the 2010 model year, Nissan offers vehicle dynamic control on all trims of the Pathfinder at no additional cost.


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When vehicle operators drive in inclement road conditions, they often encounter dangers--such as ice, snow, water or mud--that can cause the vehicle to slide out of control while braking or turning. The purpose of the VDC system is to help the vehicle maintain its intended course of travel and not run off the road. This is particularly useful in a vehicle like the Pathfinder because it is intended for use on driving surfaces that are generally dangerous or difficult.


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According to Victoria Nissan, the Nissan Pathfinder's VDC system consists of four parts: wheel speed sensors, brake pressure monitors, steering angle sensor and yaw rate sensor. A computer analyzes information received from all of these sensors and automatically makes the necessary adjustments, applying brake pressure to individual wheels as necessary.


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Drivers who use cars with vehicle dynamic control are safer than those who do not because, regardless of skill level, a driver cannot duplicate the benefits of VDC. Automobiles do not give drivers the ability to manually apply the brakes to specific wheels or to distribute brake pressure unevenly through all four wheels. Even if they did, operation of such a system would be too complicated, and no driver could react to a sliding vehicle as quickly as the automated system can.


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Though you can deactivate the vehicle dynamic control system on a Pathfinder, you should not do it. Doing so provides no performance advantages to the driver; it only allows the driver to make the vehicle slide sideways while turning or "fishtail" while braking, and these are generally undesirable and unsafe events.

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