Thursday, November 30, 2017

How Does Traction Control Work?



By: Chidi 
Traction control technology became a mandatory feature on all passenger cars and lighttrucks in 2012 and the driving community is all the safer for it.
Traction control is an electronically controlled feature that limits wheel spin during acceleration so that the drive wheels maintain maximum traction and a driver maintains better control of the car. In wet or slippery conditions, some wheels on your vehicle may start spinning faster than the others and the system’s goal is to reduce power to the excessively spinning wheel(s) when sensors detect it and redistribute it to the wheel(s) that may need more.
Most traction control systems now go the extra mile and use a vehicle’s anti-lock braking to slow a spinning wheel as power is being redistributed to other wheels. The main goal here is to avoid a skid, which could easily end in a crash if drivers don’t know how to control it.
“Traction control systems were traditionally mechanical and usually limited to the rear axle(2WD) with a limited slip differential to control power distribution,” said Rob Dexter, Product & Technology Specialist at BMW Group. “There was a time when traction control was a standalone concept in the BMW world, however, since the introduction of electronic control systems, we have tended not to refer to traction control in isolation from our sophisticated Dynamic Stability Control system.”
how-does-traction-control-work
Traction Control is not a lesser version of Dynamic Stability Control, which controls oversteer and understeer conditions through a steering sensor and a control module that determines how much engine power gets to the wheels. Both systems work seamlessly together to provide total vehicle control in varying driving conditions and a safety net if something were to go wrong due to the loss of traction.
Traction control begins the process of staying in control, but stability control goes a step further by ensuring a vehicle stays on the intended path chosen by the driver. “Traction control is, of course, a fundamental operating principle of BMW’s all-wheel-drive system, which works seamlessly with its sister Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system to ensure optimum traction in all driving scenarios, however, controlling traction in the interest of forward motion is only one feature,” BMW’s Dexter says, adding that the systems can do much more than just keep you safe.
Electronic technology in vehicles has advanced so much and traction control in modern cars is now integrated with other safety systems that make the car safer and prevent a vehicle from losing control.
“Our system through traction control uses the brakes to slow a spinning wheel, then modulates engine power through throttle control and finally, transfers power to other wheels,” says Andrew Parravano, Product Expert at Volvo. “Some Volvo models such as the S60 and V60 Polestar’s traction control system has a reduction function that allows a longer time before the systemintervenes.”
Similar systems, which is available in many performance-oriented cars these days, allow more rear wheel slip when a driver decides to drive more dynamically. More rear wheel slip will be allowed by the system as long as steering control by the driver is not too excessive, in which case, the reduction function will automatically turn off.
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This can be important for customers of performance vehicles who may not appreciate tractioncontrol systems inadvertently cutting engine power when these vehicles are being pushed to their limits. Plus, drifting and letting the back end slide out (which traction control inhibits) is a much more fun way to get around a track. In a lot of performance cars, “Track Mode” turns off the traction control for drivers who prefer little to no intervention.
But there may have been a world where all this may not have even existed had it not been for the genius of Frank-Werner Mohn, a Mercedes-Benz engineer. Autocar recently spoke with Mohn and got an account of how he came to designing this technology.
A fateful car accident in 1989 inspired him to start developing the first iteration of stability controltechnology. Despite his car having well-functioning brakes, it was not enough to stop his car from skidding and he ended up crashing on the side of a snowy countryside road.
By 1991, Mohn’s final version of his skid control technology had been approved for production in Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
One of the defining characteristics of Mohn’s design was for the system to be active at all times so that it prevents skids and loss of control before it occurs instead of reacting to a situation after it happens.
Eventually, Mohn released the patents to technology suppliers to who were then allowed to sell it to rival automakers. The result? It lowered the cost of the technology and slowly made it accessible to mass market consumers.
Fast forward to the present and we are still seeing the positive effects of that technology on the safety of motorists and pedestrians alike. A 2015 U.S. National Highway Traffic SafetyAdministration (NHTSA) report confirmed that 6,169 lives have been saved by electronic stabilitycontrol technology and the number will keep growing as this technology keeps improving.


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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

You’ll Have to Pry the Steering Wheel From Porsche’s Cold, Dead Hands


By: STEPH WILLEMS
Like BMW, which aims to keep gas-powered M cars in production for as long as humanly possible, Porsche is also making a commitment to motoring purity in the face of new technologies and government overreach. That circular device positioned in front of the driver? Porsche wants to keep it there.
The specter of Big Government and Big Safety conspiring to kill non-autonomous motoring is a real fear, one that’s been talked about more than a little here at TTAC. Call it the Red Barchetta scenario.
Porsche seems aware of it, too, though it tiptoes around the entity at the center of the issue. Nevertheless, the automaker claims a future Porsche “will be one of the last automobiles with a steering wheel.”
That’s the view of Lutz Meschke, vice-president of the company’s executive board and head of finance and IT. In an interview published by the automaker, Meschke lays out the short and medium-term future for both self-driving technology and the steering wheel.
No one knows what the long-term holds, but many of us, Meschke included, seem to believe it’s a future where safety tops personal autonomy. A future where your car drives you, no ifs, ands, or buts.
“A Porsche will always be a car that you will want and be able to drive yourself,” he said, adding much later that the act of driving “will hopefully remain the most important thing at Porsche for a very long time.” Still, Porsche isn’t going the Luddite route when it comes to assist-type features that drivers might want to pay extra for — or demand as standard kit.
porsche-911-gt2-rs-leaked-photos-01
From the parking lot to the racetrack, “We see digitalization and autonomous driving not as a threat but as a tremendous opportunity,” Meschke said. For the former scenario, traffic jam assistants and automated parking systems are seen as the most useful features for the brand. For buyers in Porsche’s price range, these will soon become “must haves,” he said.
Luxury car ownership obviously means the option of taking it as easy as possible. Next year’s Cayenne brings the brand’s most advanced driver’s aids yet, Meschke claims. After that, the Mission E electric sedan (due to appear in 2019) represents the next big leap in autonomous features.
For the weekend racer, automation could mean the ability to navigate a track like your favorite pedal jockey — just download a particular race, recorded by a driver piloting the same car on the same course, and learn from your vehicle. Porsche calls that idea the “Mark-Webber-function,” named after its seasoned brand ambassador.
“With this function, the vehicle could drive autonomously on a racetrack like the Nürnburgring – just like Webber would drive,” said Meschke. “The car drives an ideal course and demonstrates perfect brakes in the curves, where to best shift and where to accelerate. First, software saves the exact course Mark Webber drives on a racetrack. These data are used by the autonomous vehicle to drive the course identically. Afterwards, the customer can reclaim the steering wheeland let the car show him the ideal course, thus training and improving his skills as a driver via direct feedback from the car. This is technically possible already. Of course, the driver can improve over time and learn new things.”
Naturally, other tracks and drivers would be part of such a hypothetical feature. Back in the real world, Porsche plans to make more of its money from digitalization, the less-sexy, once-removed cousin of automation. For example, it already offers German customers the ability to order additional insurance online (“Porsche Shield”) before heading to the track.
In the medium term, Porsche hopes to generate a two-digit percentage of its business from digital services. As for the long term, well, that likely involves a rogue Porsche engineer in the last production 911 deftly avoiding Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt road safety drones as he races for the Swiss border.


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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Shop cat diagnosing a misfire




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Monday, November 27, 2017

VW Reveals Mild-Hybrid Golf in Europe


By: Sebastien Bell
Although Volkswagen has admitted that plug-in hybrids aren’t a priority in America, the era of mild-hybridization is upon us–or is at least upon EU–and the company has revealed what that will look like for the Golf.
Powered by a 1.5-liter gas engine, that’s married to an 8kW belt-integrated starter generator—which sounds remarkably like an alternator, but whatever—that funnels electricity to a 48-volt lithium ion battery. Weirdly, this is in addition to the 12V battery that will still run the usual electronics.
So far, that’s nothing especially groundbreaking, but the beefier electrical system does at least allow the Golf to do more. It allows faster start-stops, better energy recovery, and can provide more boost to the engine.
But wait, there’s more! A “mild hybrid plus” version will also incorporate a 35 hp electric motorthat can drive either the front or rear axle. That means that the system can recover energy through regenerative braking, shut down the engine to save fuel, or—more enticingly—funnel extra torque to some of the wheels.
Funneling extra torque is always exciting because it helps performance in all sorts of ways. The extra torque can help acceleration in a straight line, but can also help with cornering (by providing extra power to the outside wheels).
That means that the same system that improves lap times also improves fuel economy by 7 mpg, according to VW.
Along with the electric motor, VW also has a shiny new TSI engine that uses a variable geometry turbo that apparently has the highest compression and best fuel economy in its class. Volkswagen is also developing an even better 1.5-liter engine making an extra 30 hp that can run on either gas or compressed natural gas.
Autocar recently had the chance to drive a prototype MHEV Golf. The publication reports that power delivery is smooth and linear and that it feels pretty much production ready, but that the MHEV Plus—with the 35 hp electric motor—feels a little farther from development because its power comes in and out a little more choppily.
So far the publication has only driven the FWD version but was treated to an AWD demonstration. A FWD Tiguan was driven in deep sand, where it became stuck until the electric motor gave the rear wheels a kick helping the Tiguan out.
Volkswagen anticipates that these systems will be commonplace in a few years because they help efficiency and are cheaper than a plug-in hybrid system—which could even make them appealing here.
That’s no reason to fret, reports Autocar, because the mild hybrid system, that Audi has been working on since the SQ7, eliminates turbo lag and makes the car feel responsive and engaging, causing Autocar to call it a better all-around option than the traditional Golf.


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