What can make a car drift/spin out of control? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-08-2010, 10:58 PM Thread Starter
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What can make a car drift/spin out of control?

I was driving in NJ the other day, and in front of me I saw a newer car do a sideways drift on the highway, and spin out of control.

It wasn't raining or icy or anything, so what can cause a car to get sideways? Speed looked like it was around 70-80. Went sideways, and then spun out in the middle.

Scary to say the least!
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-08-2010, 11:12 PM
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attempting to defy the laws of physics while driving.


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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-08-2010, 11:19 PM
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When you have a car with no ESP-all it takes is to make sudden move with steering wheel and hit the gas in this moment. Once the car loses the traction on rear wheels and the driver is not trailed to counter-react -the car will make more or less loops depends on the traction.
Years ago -driving in 4 seasons where poor traction is common I used that technique to make U-turn on 20 feet wide roads. Didn't take much longer than a second.
I didn't have a chance to practice the maneuver in W210, but judging from fishtailing I was getting while driving on ice -shouldn't bee too difficult to fool traction control.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-08-2010, 11:59 PM
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Tires lose traction and drivers panic.



I used to lose traction like this all the time in my Jeep (when I was in 2wd). I would approach what looked like wet pavement but was really black ice! If the back end went out, I would gently lift off the throttle , gently turn the wheels (into the skid, if the back end goes left, turn wheels left, back goes right, turn right) until the vehicle is straight. I have found this technique works best if there is little to no braking but if there are obstacles in the road to avoid, I would hammer down the brakes and let the ABS figure out what to do.

The way people mess this up is pretty simple. When they start sliding sideways, they jerk the wheel in the opposite direction of the skid. This puts a torque on the car, and in a few seconds they are facing the wrong way down the road, have gone off the road, or hit a freeway divider. It happens like crazy here in Colorado.

Driving my 4matic on roads with questionable traction is a pleasure because I never have to engage 4x4. (the Jeep is not designed to be in 4x4 all the time on dry or high traction surfaces, as it has a locked center differential and will wear out in a couple thousand miles if not disengaged).

The best part of the 4matic is the traction control warning light illuminates when a wheel loses traction, this is a very good reminder to drivers to slow down and be more cautious.

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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 12:02 AM Thread Starter
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Black ice is possible...

It was a newer luxury car that does have traction control - could it spin out like that even with traction control? The driver was driving a bit aggressively and fast it seemed, maybe it was turned off..

heh, anyway a bit startling! Makes me want to go to a closed track and practice car control maneuvers so that if this happens on the road you know how to react!
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 12:05 AM
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Absent a mechanical failure or impact with another vehicle, the inquiry would begin and end with the driver.

Even with feeback stability systems, 70-80 is still covering a football field in under 3 seconds and it doesn't take much to upset the apple cart.

Some time ago I was passed by three complete morons on the bay bridge that were doing around 80 in moderate traffic, cutting in and out...and a few seconds later I saw the brake lights ahead from the multicar collisio that resulted. I think probably everyone else on the bridge knew it was coming, just not those drivers.

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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by crashtest View Post
heh, anyway a bit startling! Makes me want to go to a closed track and practice car control maneuvers so that if this happens on the road you know how to react!
Hey. Would you buy a gun and never take it to shooting range?
Than shouldn't you live up to your handle?
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 12:14 AM
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Originally Posted by crashtest View Post

It was a newer luxury car that does have traction control - could it spin out like that even with traction control?
Yes. The owner's manual is very clear that no system can overcome the laws of physics.

ASR/ETS/ESP can only do so much and if you are going too fast for the conditions they will not bail you out. These systems are designed for responsible drivers who are caught off guard in extreme circumstances.

I think some of these features actually shut off above a certain speed if I'm not mistaken.

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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 02:34 AM
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Originally Posted by j99xj View Post
Yes. The owner's manual is very clear that no system can overcome the laws of physics.

ASR/ETS/ESP can only do so much and if you are going too fast for the conditions they will not bail you out. These systems are designed for responsible drivers who are caught off guard in extreme circumstances.

I think some of these features actually shut off above a certain speed if I'm not mistaken.
ASR may get switched off at high speed but it is ESP that is needed in this scenario and ESP is always on (even if switched off it is just reacting less aggressively then).
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 08:49 AM
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...Makes me want to go to a closed track and practice car control maneuvers so that if this happens on the road you know how to react!
That's an excellent idea. I took a defensive driving course once and part of that was driving our own cars on a skid pad. When you lose control you don't have time to think so you'd better be ready to react instinctively.

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