How this technology works
Electronic stability control (or ESC) is a crash avoidance system, mandatory on all cars, SUVs, pickups, minivans, heavy trucks and buses from 2012 model yearFootnote 1, to help you stay in control of your vehicle when you need to swerve to avoid an obstacle.
When the ESC's sensors and computer detect that your steering does not match the direction of your vehicle, it automatically brakes one or more wheels for short periods of time, reduces engine power, or both to keep your vehicle moving in the intended direction.
A vehicle with ESC is able to avoid an obstacle. The same vehicle without ESC deviates from the road trying to avoid the same obstacle.
Things for drivers to keep in mind
- ESC is on whenever you start your vehicle. Some vehicles have a manual ESC Off switch for certain situations such as when you are stuck in snow
- Even if your vehicle is equipped with ESC, you must continue to drive carefully. This technology does not and cannot change the laws of physics. If you drive too fast for road conditions, you can still lose control
- Keeping your tires and brakes in good condition is important too. The best ESC system can do little if your tires are worn-out, under-inflated, or overloaded. You also need winter tires
- You should read your owner's manual to learn about your vehicle's system, including its capabilities and limits