What is: Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

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Every Malaysian’s perception on car safety have come a long way. These days, a car with merely dual airbags, ABS and Brake Assist just won’t cut it anymore as consumers now place more and more emphasis on the full suite of active safety features and most importantly, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) but what is ESC? Should it be a determining factor when you’re choosing your next ride? By the end of the article, we sure hope it does.

Manufacturers over the years have come up with many fancy names for a simple safety system: Honda coins it as Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), BMW calls it Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and Toyota calls it Vehicle Stability Control (VSC). But in its essence these fancy terms all refer to the Electronic Stability Control.

ESC is a software that prevents your car from losing control by monitoring the car’s lateral movement and steering control amongst other things. If the system detects that the car is starting to lose steering control, ESC intervenes by applying brakes on individual wheels and sometimes suppresses engine output to help the driver regain control of the car – and that is the most important bit, helping the driver to regain control of the car.

In the unfortunate event where you need to make sudden directional changes to avoid an obstacle, chances are, the regular joe would have spun uncontrollably in a car without ESC equipped. On the other hand, in a car with ESC, the driver would stand a much better chance to escape the ordeal without a scratch. Then again, ESC is not a 100 percent guaranteed safety net should the driver run out of skill.

According to a report by the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2006, as much as one-third of fatal accidents could have been prevented if the vehicles were equipped with ESC. More recently, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that in 2014 alone, vehicles with ESC saved 1,580 lives. Still think ESC is just another marketing gimmick?

Fortunately, the Malaysian automotive industry players have paid a great deal of attention towards the safety of car buyers. The recently launched Perodua Myvi has ESC equipped on all variants, the Kia Picanto is the only A-Segment vehicle with ESC and Toyota Malaysia has recently updated the entire Vios range with ESC as standard.

However, as we enter 2018, there are still a handful of popular models on sale that do not come with ESC as standard like the Honda Jazz 1.5 S (Only E-spec and above gets ESC) and Nissan Almera. Even the C-segment Kia Cerato 1.6 KX does not come with any form of Electronic Stability Control. If you think that you’re doing your bank account a favour by opting for the lower variant to save on a couple of grand, perhaps you should re-evaluate decision and think about your loved ones before you put your signature down on a new car.


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Adrian Chia

Adrian Chia

He believes that the perfect remedy to Monday blues is a mixture of 4 wheels, clear roads and a pinch of twisty tarmac. A hot hatch is the icing on the cake.
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