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Go Back   Chevy HHR Network > General Discussion > General HHR > StabilliTrak - ESC - Electronic Stability Control
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:19 PM   #1
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StabilliTrak - ESC - Electronic Stability Control

Howdy,

Today being the first truly dry day in Seattle in a few weeks I washed and detailed the Red Sled.

I was driving an an off-ramp, enjoying the 50 series tires and TTC sway bar and since it was desolate decided to push the turn a bit. The HHR did not disappoint... so for giggles, on the last 3/4 of the turn I dialed in a little more to see if I could find a breaking point. NOPE!

I could feel the weight shift in the HHR, or the tires re-adjust but not a INCH of give that I could feel.

When I looked down at the DIC, I found "ESC Active" on for a few seconds.

My question, I have Googled StabilliTrak and ESC and get it - but is there someone who can explain in more detail parameters or details what it does when "activated"?

Can it adjust each brake independently? Does it just reduce power?

Again, completely dry, plenty of space, no "sliding" per se except for any "normal" sliding that all cars do by the millimeter when cornering. I was actually shocked at the unflappability of my little FWD car w/o IRS.
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:29 AM   #2
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First of all, you have my deepest sympathy for living in Seattle, where they think icy, unsalted roads are a public service.

ESC applies braking independantly to each wheel, in concert with traction control, which limits torque to the drive wheels. I've had it kick on when I deliberately tried to test it on an icy surface, and found it to be reasonably effective, as I maintained control at all times. I will say I have Blizzaks on all 4's, so that helps a great deal too.
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:32 AM   #3
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Oh, Seattle isn't as bad as the story you might have read. We rarely get ANY snow here... once or twice a year and it usually melts overnight.

The whole ice/snow/salt/dirt thing is only something from the last couple years trying to save money and be more environmentally friendly.

This last episode has changed those plans: there will be salt next time. :)

That being said, my HHR with 50 series Firehawks and swaybar got everywhere I had to go, snow, ice, whatever!
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:43 AM   #4
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ESC pretty much uses your anti lock system to pulse the brakes to control the car. No power reduction.

There is a computer program that reads the g loads, steering angle and wheel traction to see if you are sliding or losing traction. If it all is doing its job you get a light.

You may also hear the antilocks a little but each wheel is controled by the computer. Generally it is more quiet than under braking.

This all make the vehicle hard to spin out or understeer into a guard rail or off the road.

With that being said it is not impossible to over do it and push the computer to the point it can not control the vehicle. You can still spin out or crash if you give it more than it can correct. The systems has some limitations it you take it too far. Under normal driving it is not an issue and a very good system. Note most often in a FWD you will go nose first off the road.

The light coming on during your drive means if you did not have ESC you would have had to take action to control the HHR or crashing as you were sliding and losing traction somewhere. It is hard to tell how far out you were but on dry pavment you had a pretty good run in the corner to get the light on. You may have not felt it but you were on the edge enough to let the system kick in.

Also note ESC in a FWD is good as they tend to undesteer and like to push in a corner. It is not easy to slide or drift a FWD. IT can and will save many from front end damage.

The ESC saved me when I was run off the road as when I locked it down I slid in the rocks on the road side and it steered the car over enough to prevent me from hitting a stop sign head on. I has it turned and was going right for it when the SS turned and missed it. I did all I could do and the truck just did a little more. I still went off the road but that stop sign would have done much more damage than I did have.

If you have some snow go to a parking lot and play with the ESC. Best to know what it can and will do before you need to use it. Like I said it will take car of many situations but it does have some realistic limits. You still need a driver.

Note most of us even in the Great Lakes Snow belt get around just fine with out special tires. The HHR is like most FWD and gets around just fine with All Season tires. Even on the worse roads I have yet to have any drama of getting where I am going in my wifes car or my HHR both have ESC.

I do miss steering the throtle and drifting throught the snow in my old 2WD pick up. That was a blast and made driving fun. THe HHR has been very stable and not as much fun [good for most]. I did find if you kick all the electronic controls off you can kick the rear out with the E brake. I did this in a parking lot to see what all it could do with the electronics on and off.

It is good to know what it can do so when something happens you know its limitations.
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:44 AM   #5
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Here in Cleveland, we get a pretty good amount of snow, and I'm extremely pleased with the HHR handling. My old DD was a Ford Probe, which got decent traction, but "butt scraper" ground clearance sometimes became an issue. No ABS, TC, or ESC on that buggy, but the best heater on the face of the earth.
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Old 01-04-2009, 12:56 PM   #6
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Hmm. I must've been right on the edge because it felt super planted... and I'm no stranger to tossing my car into hard turns.. FWD and RWD. Thanks for the more detailed insight!
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Old 01-04-2009, 05:46 PM   #7
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I too think you were on the edge.

Use care as once you step over what the computer is able to control your just going to go straight into what ever is ahead. They do have limits.

This is not like the old days where you could slide the car around a little in a 4 wheel drift.

I think this is why I keep the Fiero around. I have a 1.25 rear bar and a 1 inch front bar that keep it neutral. With the set of sticky Comp TA radials it holds real well and there are no electronics in the way.

At least on GM cars you can shut off the ESC and anti locks. Many cars you don't get that option.
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Old 01-04-2009, 06:32 PM   #8
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I have had it activate in the dry a couple of times that I noticed. Once recently when I was passing a 350z on a sweeping right hand in the passing lane, when the guy decided he did not like being passed by an HHR and floored it just as I was even with him. No contest as I just accelerated ahead of him and already had some speed on him, but the stability control activated.
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:10 PM   #9
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I guess my point is I was trying to get a reaction, and actually expecting some kind of "breaking loose" and I was surprised at how planted it was.
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:10 PM
 
 
 
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