Understanding the intricate systems that keep our vehicles running smoothly and safely is essential, especially for auto enthusiasts and experts. One such system that often raises questions is the Anti-Slip Regulation, better known as ASR, or Traction Control System (TCS). But what exactly is ASR? How does it operate, and why is it so vital for our vehicles?
what is ASR in a car
ASR, also known as Traction Control System (TCS), is designed to prevent the loss of traction, that is, wheel spin, on the driven road wheels of vehicles. It’s typically a secondary function of the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) on production motor vehicles, but this isn’t always the case. ASR springs into action when there’s a mismatch between throttle input and engine power and torque transfer to the road surface conditions.
The Mechanics of ASR
The intervention from the ASR can take one or more forms, such as applying brake force to one or more wheels, reducing or suppressing the spark sequence or fuel supply to one or more cylinders, closing the throttle if the vehicle is fitted with a drive-by-wire throttle, or actuating a boost control solenoid in turbocharged vehicles to reduce boost and therefore engine power.
The Birth of ASR
The Predecessor of ASR
Before the advent of electronic traction control systems, high-torque, high-power rear-wheel-drive cars relied on a limited-slip differential. This mechanical system transferred a relatively small amount of power to the non-slipping wheel while still permitting some wheel spin.
ASR’s First Appearance
The first semblance of modern electronic traction control systems appeared in 1971 with Buick’s introduction of MaxTrac. This system used an early computer system to detect rear wheel spin and modulate engine power to those wheels to maximize traction. It was an exclusive option on all full-size models, including the Riviera, Estate Wagon, Electra 225, Centurion, and LeSabre. By 1979, Cadillac had introduced the Traction Monitoring System (TMS) on the redesigned Eldorado
The Evolution of ASR
The Evolution of ASR
ASR systems have evolved significantly since their inception. Modern ASR systems, often incorporated into another control unit like the ABS module, have become more sophisticated and effective. When the system detects one or more driven wheels spinning significantly faster than another, it invokes the ABS electronic control unit to apply brake friction to wheels spinning with lessened traction.
Braking action on slipping wheels causes power transfer to wheel axles with traction due to the mechanical action within the differential.
How Does ASR Work in Modern Cars?
H4: The Components of ASR
ASR and ABS systems share many of the same hardware components in many vehicles. Each wheel is equipped with a sensor that detects changes in its speed due to loss of traction. The speed data from the individual wheels is then passed on to an electronic control unit (ECU).
The ECU processes this information and initiates braking to the affected wheels via a cable connected to an automatic traction control (ATC) valve. Traction control is automatically activated when the sensors detect loss of traction at any of the wheels.
ASR Intervention Methods
When the ASR system detects a wheel is losing traction, it intervenes in one or more ways. It may apply brake force to one or more wheels, reduce or suppress the spark sequence to one or more cylinders, reduce the fuel supply to one or more cylinders, close the throttle if the vehicle is fitted with a drive-by-wire throttle, or in turbocharged vehicles, actuate a boost control solenoid to reduce boost and therefore engine power.
The Role of ASR in Different Vehicle Types
ASR in Road Cars
Traditionally, ASR has been a safety feature in premium high-performance cars. These vehicles require sensitive throttle input to prevent spinning driven wheels when accelerating, especially in wet, icy, or snowy conditions.
However, in recent years, ASR systems have become widely available in non-performance cars, minivans, light trucks, and even some small hatchbacks.
ASR in Race Cars
In the world of race cars, ASR serves as a performance enhancement. It allows for maximum traction under acceleration without wheel spin, keeping the tires at the optimal slip ratio when accelerating out of a turn.
ASR in Heavy Trucks
Traction control is available in heavy trucks as well. In these vehicles, the pneumatic brake system needs some additional valves and control logic to realize a TCS system, sometimes referred to as an ASR system.
ASR in Motorcycles
Production motorcycles first featured traction control with the BMW K1 in 1988. It’s now an option on several models offered by various manufacturers, including BMW, Ducati, Kawasaki, Honda, and Triumph.
ASR in Off-road Vehicles
In off-road vehicles, ASR is used in addition to, or instead of, the mechanical limited-slip or locking differential. It often works in tandem with an electronic limited-slip differential and other computerized controls of the engine and transmission.
The spinning wheel is slowed with short applications of brakes, diverting more torque to the non-spinning wheel.
This is the system adopted by Range Rover in 1993, for example.
ASR in Cornering
ASR isn’t just used for improving acceleration under slippery conditions. It can also help drivers to corner more safely. If too much throttle is applied during cornering, the driven wheels can lose traction and slide sideways, resulting in understeer in front-wheel-drive vehicles and oversteer in rear-wheel-drive vehicles.
ASR can mitigate and possibly even correct understeer or oversteer from happening by limiting power to the overdriven wheel or wheels. However, it cannot increase the limits of frictional grip available and is used only to decrease the effect of driver error or compensate for a driver’s inability to react quickly enough to wheel slip.
Manufacturers stress in vehicle manuals that ASR systems should not encourage dangerous driving or driving in conditions beyond the driver’s control.