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Vehicle technology and its purpose


Buying a standard vehicle today is a world apart from the 80s or 90s. Standard then meant exactly that, with no bells and whistles. Only if you were in the pound seats you would be among the lucky ones to own a vehicle with air-conditioning, electric windows and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS). The rest had to be satisfied with window winders, a four speed fan with hot or cold settings and a conventional braking system.
As technology developed over the years, today’s standard vehicles come with all kinds of fancy features not only to ensure safer journeys but also a more comfortable drive. But what do all the abbreviations of vehicles specification mean and are they really important to have?
Westvaal GM Polokwane Dealer Principal Dave Stotter explained some of the specifications that are equipped as standard on most of their vehicles.
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
ABS is a safety system that allows the wheels on a motor vehicle to maintain tractive contact with the road surface according to driver inputs while braking, preventing the wheels from locking and avoiding uncontrolled skidding.
The system generally offers improved vehicle control and decreases stopping distances on dry and slippery surfaces, however, on loose gravel or snow-covered surfaces ABS can significantly increase braking distance, although still improving vehicle control. “Since initial widespread use in production cars, anti-lock braking systems have been improved considerably. Recent versions not only prevent wheel lock under braking, but also electronically control the front-to-rear brake bias known as Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD),” Stotter said.
Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)
EBD is a brake technology that automatically varies the amount of force applied to each of a vehicle’s brakes, based on road conditions, speed and loading. Always coupled ABS, EBD can apply more or less braking pressure to each wheel in order to maximize stopping power whilst maintaining vehicular control. “Typically, the front end carries the most weight and EBD distributes less braking pressure to the rear brakes so the rear brakes do not lock up and cause a skid. In some systems EBD distributes more braking pressure at the rear brakes during initial brake application before the effects of weight transfer become apparent,” according to Stotter.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Also referred to as electronic stability program (ESP) or dynamic stability control (DSC), is a computerized technology that improves a vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction. When ESC detects loss of steering control, it automatically applies the brakes to help steer the vehicle where the driver intends to go. Braking is automatically applied to wheels individually, such as the outer front wheel to counter oversteer or the inner rear wheel to counter understeer. Some ESC systems also reduce engine power until control is regained.
The list of features on today’s vehicles is almost endless. Whether it is safety orientated or implemented to feel more comfortable behind the steering wheel, cars are manufactured today to suit everyone’s needs and desires.
“The variety of vehicles we stock at Westvaal Polokwane are available with various features either as standard or optional. Our sales team is professionally trained to explain the purpose and benefits of all features. We urge potential buyers to ask when they don’t understand the function of any feature on a vehicle. The better you know your vehicle, the more joy and confidence you will have behind the steering wheel,” Stotter said.

RC Myburgh
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