Mother Nature almost played a trick on me on a steep, gravel, mountain road. Actually it was my own fault. Anybody who has bought a newer car after owning an ancient car needs to learn where the button is that will turn off the Traction Control System.
I knew where the magic button was, but it is easy to forget about such things when a sudden situation develops on the road, and it has never been a habit to hit that button.
My van is new enough that it still has the wimpy mommie-mobile tires from the factory. So I was worried about slipping as the mountain road became much steeper.
Then my mighty 6.0 liter Vortec V8 seemed to lose half its power. Was the van (and trailer) going to just stop on that hill?! How would I ever get it started again after it came to a stop?
The good news is that the slippage wasn't too bad. In a way, the Traction Control System was doing its job well: it was backing off the throttle in order to reduce the wheel slippage. And perhaps it was applying the brake to the slipping wheel: how would I know?
But surely it shouldn't throttle back to the point of stopping the vehicle on a steep hill? I tried to find the answer to this on the internet. Hopeless.
Nobody wants you to know how your car works. They want you to see it as a living room or smartphone on wheels. You are supposed to make a few years of lease payments and then replace it with a newer model.
The operation of the car is supposed to be as invisible to you as the inner workings of your electronic gadgets.
So what is to be done? On the next hill we used (somebody else's) tire chains on my van. I was quite impressed with the chains. Soon I will be buying a pair of my own.
But at the very least a driver needs to turn that damn Traction Control System off. And resist the human tendency of using too much throttle. And get rid of those mommie-mobile tires from the factory.