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Road Tests - Truck Road Tests and Comparisons at GM's Milford Proving Ground

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Truck Traction Control Comparisons
truck traction control
© Dale Wickell

Comparing Truck Traction Control Systems

This area of the track was used to compare truck traction control. The white pavement had water running over it so that drivers could position a truck's left or right-side tires on the wet area, but keep the the other side of the pickup on dry pavement.

When we accelerated, the tires sitting on the wet strip spun. The Ford F-150 truck in the photo spun so much that its tires started smoking, even though there was water underneath them.

Test trucks had different systems for controlling traction: limited slip differentials, electronic traction control, and GM's automatic locking rear differential. This was a GM event, so it's not difficult to guess which trucks handled the hill best. The GM differential works real well, with smooth engagement and disengagement and no noticeable jerking, excessive noise or other negative side effects.

GM's Traction System

GM's automatic locking rear differential senses the spin of one wheel and locks both axles together to send power to the wheel with traction. The Sierra I drove made a couple of lurches, let out a little sound, and then climbed the hill with no spinning and no smoke.

Electronic Traction Control Systems

All of the electronic traction control systems that I'm familiar with work by pulsing the brake on the wheel that's spinning in order to try and force power to the other wheel, an action that can take away any forward momentum the vehicle might have. If you're going up a somewhat steep driveway in the snow, and one tire starts to spin, brake pulsing could slow you down or bring you to a stop.

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