Buying a New Car? Get Stability Control!

Systems that are the same, but have different names

We've known for decades about the benefits of antilock brakes and traction control, but consumers are still relatively unaware of the precise benefits of the latest application of those technologies: stability control. A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests that up to 10,000 fatal accidents can be prevented every year if the system were on all vehicles, instead of the current 25 percent.

That's a huge number, given that there are 34,000 car-crash deaths a year. Read this article for a good explanation of how the systems work, and don't let dealers convince you that stability control isn't necessary just so you'll drive out with a car that isn't equipped with it. According to David Champion, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports, "a big part of the problem is that, since many customers are unaware of the technology or don't fully understand it, it's easier for car dealers to tell consumers they don't need it."** ****—**Eric Adams

And here's a list, by Consumer Reports, of all the brand names for what are actually virtually identical systems:

Active Handling: Chevrolet
AdvanceTrac: Ford, Lincoln, Mercury
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC): Saab, Hyundai, Land Rover, Jaguar, Mazda, Jeep, Kia, BMW, Mini
Dynamic Stability Traction Control (DSTC): Volvo
Electronic Stability Program (ESP): Audi, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Chrysler, Dodge, Suzuki
Mitsubishi Active Skid and Traction Control System (M-ASTC): Mitsubishi
Porsche Stability Management (PSM): Porsche
StabiliTrak: Buick, Pontiac, Cadillac, GMC, Saturn, Hummer
Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC): Nissan, Infiniti
Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC): Subaru
Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA): Acura, Honda
Vehicle Stability Control (VSC): Lexus, Scion, Toyota