school me on the VSC and winter driving - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
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post #1 of 8 Old 02-26-2014, 08:14 AM Thread Starter
Rdo
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school me on the VSC and winter driving

I have been reading and watching utube vids on this subject but hoped I could get several opinions on this.



last night the wife calls me out to the car when she returned home saying there was something wrong with the brakes...

while making a right hand corner right in front of our home she (in a 2009 rav4 AWD) said she could not steer and there was an alarm beeping...we had a light amount of snow on the ground and she showed me her tire marks which failed to turn and instead drove into the far curb.

if there was traffic she likely would have hit another car or been hit as she ended up in the other lane primed to be t-boned by anyone coming that way.

i drove around the same corner and also got heavy steering, and the alarm beeping. I understand that it is something to do with the VSC. I did not turn it off and try it as i thought it should be left on for safety. (i was able to turn the wheel and avoid hitting the far curb, but the car did not impress me with its handling).

This rav4 is supposed to be an upgrade for my wife from an older subaru forester. I had wanted another subaru for her for just this reason, winter driving...but we went with the Toyota thinking it would still be pretty good snow wise and have better reliability over all.

she or I have never had a problem driving around a corner in the subaru, but both of us yesterday had trouble going around a corner with less than an inch of snow, and there was no high speed cornering when i tested it.

Does it sound like there was a problem with the VSC to you? the car responded as if it were just rear wheel drive in my opinion, and not AWD. maybe even worse, as instead of the back sliding out it just forced her to drive straight across the road into the curb, and to me it seemed heavy to steer.

Is it better to turn off the VSC for winter roads?

(Note: I am not looking to "have fun in the snow" here...i want a safe car for the wife in winter conditions...she does not have the skills to slide around corners for fun.)
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post #2 of 8 Old 02-26-2014, 10:15 AM
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If your wife turned the steering wheel and the car continued moving straight, it has nothing to do with VSC, but simple laws of physics. She tried to make a turn at too high speed and the centrifugal force won. Light snow that is melting can be very slippery. I think your problem could be related to tires. How many miles do you have on your current set of tires? Are they "all season" tires which (usually) are barely adequate for snow driving?

If the car was "beeping" it means that the VSC detected a problem (severe understeer) and was trying to help. But even the best VSC can't beat the laws of physics, or do "miracles" with poor tires.

Do NOT disconnect VSC while driving in snow.
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post #3 of 8 Old 02-26-2014, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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The physics talk was the first thing I thought and told her..."you were going to fast!" (And I bet she was)...

I also questioned the tires, as they are not new, nor a snow tread. But they are not bad looking.

...However I did the corner myself twice once "normal for snow" (meaning slow and easy!) and again faster than normal trying to push it... and the car didn't want to turn, it fought the steering, sounded the alarm and handled poorly.

I didn't drive into the curb, but the wheel was hard to steer, I could see what she meant by not being able to steer it.

It just seems that a 2009 so called AWD made by Toyota (my top pick for 4x4 trucks) really should have driven around a corner without any trouble at such low speeds...it was like rolling through a stop sigh speed, not trying to slide intentionally speed when i did it.

Other than yesterday its been a nice driving car, but my faith in has fallen a notch.

Thanks for the reply.
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post #4 of 8 Old 03-03-2014, 10:24 PM
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From what you described, you were in a front wheel skid, and the VSC activated to make the steering heavy to keep driver from over-correcting.
Here's some VSC 'schooling' :

Brake Control System--
Front Wheel Skid Tendency
When the skid control ECU determines a front wheel skid tendency it controls the VSC to dampen the front wheel skid. At the same time, it effects the cooperative control with the EPS (power steering) to provide steering torque assists, which controls the driverís steering maneuvers to stabilize the vehicle posture. Steering torque assists are provided to inform the driver of the front wheel skid, and to prevent the driverís excessive turning of the steering wheel. In the assist for preventing excessive turning, it increases the resistance to counter the driverís steering effort, if the driver turns the steering wheel excessively.



Last edited by krane; 03-03-2014 at 10:31 PM.
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post #5 of 8 Old 03-04-2014, 10:38 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Krane, its interesting how "smart" cars are getting...the old FJ40s I had in the old days seem like they were from another planet.

I'll guess the front wheel skid issue was mostly a tire thing.
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post #6 of 8 Old 03-04-2014, 12:52 PM
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QUOTE=Rdo: "its interesting how "smart" cars are getting..."


I'm old school, too, and have my old Chevy truck 4WD dialed! This VSC is quite the beast, working with the ABS, TRAC, and EPS. I sure hope it knows what it is doing when it all goes sideways! It probably really shines when someone goes off a shoulder, tends to over-correct and could then roll it. VSC to the rescue.

Yea, tires. My last all-seasons were shot for snow driving and still had maybe 1/4 good tread. I nursed them through that snow season, then got through the summer and fall before getting new ones. Stellar snow grip once more! I might go to dedicated snow tires when this set reaches 1/2 tread, or at least keep an eye on it.
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post #7 of 8 Old 03-07-2014, 03:07 PM
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That's the traction control kicking in and the beeping sound is the computer letting you know not to know what you just did. When the traction control kicks in it automatically brakes for you. On my 2010 Corolla it use to beep and kick in when I was steering around tight bends in the snow going like 30 mph.

Last edited by comeandsee; 03-07-2014 at 03:15 PM.
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post #8 of 8 Old 03-08-2014, 03:25 PM
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Honestly, sounds like too much "idiot proofing" going on with this vehicle. I'm hating this trend toward taking vehicle control away from competent drivers.
Tires may be a factor, but any system that makes the car uncontrollable isn't working correctly. I'd run it to a Toyota dealer and let them do a diagnostic on the sensors involved. Even better if it can go in with road conditions similar to ones described.
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