• Jane Wheeler

Traction Control



Traction control. That button in your car (picture above) that perhaps you are not all that familiar with. I sure was not. I had no idea what it did except by the name “traction” I knew it had something to do with the tires, but other than that – not a clue.


Do you even know if you car/truck has traction control? (I only knew because Brian told me). If you have an older vehicle it might not have it.


Traction control has been around for a long time even back into the ‘70’s but it was only since 2011 that it because compulsory for vehicles to have it. It used to be only the elite vehicles that had it built in.


Traction control comes on automatically when you turn the ignition on in your vehicle and it is a rare time when you would want to turn it off: snow is one of those times. We live in the north, so perhaps a little information on this might come in handy, because things we certainly have are snow, ice and mud.


What does traction control even do?


Traction control is there in case your car tire should ever slip or spin, it will work to stop or slow down the spinning making your vehicle safer at handling on the road. If you are cruising along at highway speed and a tire starts to spin it could throw your vehicle around, and cause you to loose control. Having a system that slows the tire speed down to combat the spin makes your vehicle safer.


The exception to the rule would be if you were stuck in the snow or mud, you would want to turn the traction control off so that the power goes to the spinning tire to help get you “unstuck” and help with the rocking method of getting out. To get the traction control off, depress the traction control button and you should get a lit-up icon on the dash that the traction control is off. In my car I have to hold the button for 10 seconds to manually turn the system off and then I get a second icon informing me the system is off.

I personally take the traction control off each time I go up my driveway in the ice or snow. It is a steep climb and I want to ensure I get all the power to the tires I can. I turn it off, put the car into manual, and hit the gas, pray and up we go! Works every time! (I am more partial to thinking the prayer is the key component, but I do all four).


I have been thinking of how to write about traction control – you know what would be a good word picture and I keep coming up with a hamster on it’s wheel.


The wheel is spinning freely and the hamster can make it go faster or slower depending on how fast it runs. I remember “fluffy” my little hamster I had as a child, at night you could hear that wheel just a spinning; painfully so. You could be tempted to shove something into the wheel to slow it down or stop it from spinning – kind of like a traction control mechanism. That analogy might not work for the true mechanics in the crowd but it works for me.


Like “fluffy” life can speed up to the point where the wheel of our life is spinning so fast that it appears out of control. We get tired, exhausted trying to keep the wheel going and sometimes we cannot seem to stop the wheel to enable us to get off. What can we use for a traction control system to slow us down?


How about this? Put into your schedule – planned breaks. I say "put it into your schedule" because when we are spinning our wheels, that great idea that we think we will do often gets overlooked, pushed back or plain does not happen. If you have a planned break and even an alarm or reminder system to push you into “break mode” you are more likely to take them. A break does not have to be something big – but it should divert your attention off the “wheel” and onto something else for a short time. How about playing a relaxing song or two, going outside for a quick breath of fresh air, taking time to make a phone call and check in with family or a friend. I love to pick up a quick sudoku game or a good book.


Remember the aim of traction control – to slow down or stop the tire from spinning.


Basically, anything you can do to stop yourself from getting out of control on the life spinning wheel is a form of traction control and it offers you protection from burn out or sliding into a ditch. It can take effort to get out of the “I’ll do it later” thinking and so often it gets forgotten about.


The automotive manuals tell you that traction control can save lives, but as with anything there are limits on what it can and cannot do. The same holds true for us, breaks and slowing down are good things but we must look at the overall picture – if I am working 16 hours days, 7 days a week – traction control will not save me from burn out or crashing and burning. No one can keep that pace for a long period of time without their body giving some kind of push back. We need more than little breaks – we need time off to refresh and replenish our strength. Even fluffy had to get off his hamster wheel sometimes and get some needed rest after a good work out, I think we can learn from him.

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