With the exception of those who are intentionally trying to break traction (we're looking at you, drifters), most driving enthusiasts aim to avoid drive wheelspin if at all possible. In fact, wheelspin will make you slower, increasing lap times and in general taking a fair amount of concentration to mitigate its effects, whether that's under-/oversteer or torque steer. Loss of traction can also be dangerous, plus let's not overlook the frustration and potential embarrassment of pinning the throttle only to have the car not hook up.
There are options for beating wheelspin, or "slip" as the folks at Hondata more correctly refer to it. More and more new cars come factory equipped with a traction control systems (TCS) these days, but those setups are largely one size fits all and non-adjustable.
For some, the only solution for fine-tuning traction lies in aftermarket stand-alone engine management, and last November Honda ECU tuner extraordinaire Hondata joined the elite group of companies offering TCS with its own antislip product.
Hondata's fully programmable Traction Control module pulls information from a vehicle's wheel speed sensors and tells the ECU to reduce power (chiefly by pulling timing from the engine) when it detects a difference in speed between the driven and undriven wheels. It also analyzes the wheel-speed difference from the undriven wheels to improve traction in cornering. The user stays on top of things with on-the-fly adjustment of the target slip rate using a switch that can be mounted within the driver's reach on the dash or center console.
Currently the unit is compatible with Hondata S300, most K-Pro, and select FlashPro engine management supported Honda/Acura and uses the sensors that are a key component of the stock antilock braking system (ABS) already installed in many cars. However, we figure it is possible to adapt the traction control unit to work with any engine management system with a five-volt auxiliary input.
The system works with inductive, active, and hall effect sensors and can offer five levels of target wheel slip, adjustable via switch knob module. Hondata Traction Control also comes with the brain box, cables, software, and a harness for connecting to power, ground, engine management, and positive and negative leads for each of the four wheel-speed sensors.
Once the hardware is installed, the next step is to set up software. The default settings offer evenly spaced wheel slip target percentages front to rear (for straight-line traction) and left to right (for cornering) for each of the five switch positions. Via USB cable and a Windows-based operating system, the Traction Control module's five control settings can be customized from default using Hondata's traction control software. The slip target percentages can be adjusted on the fly to a user's preference for both straight-line and cornering.
We like to feel we can get out of trouble in our cars quicker than we get into it, and this handy Hondata product definitely helps us do that. At a recent test day at Willow Springs Raceway we got to try out the TCS on both front- and rear-wheel-drive Hondas, equipped with both open and limited-slip differentials, and can say unequivocally the system is very effective without spoiling the fun. We also got to see the car tested--to similar success--on a turbo K-series drag car and Hondata's land speed CRX.
Among the list of test beds for the media was Church Automotive's 500hp supercharged S2000. As one could expect, the sub-3,000-pound FR roadster--originally rated at around 200 ponies from the factory--was a handful around the abbreviated circuit layout, but the Hondata TCS handled the power well, progressively becoming more intrusive with each click of the knob.
Even on a powerful FWD the Hondata TCS maintained traction without flinching. We took out the company's nearly 400hp Acura TSX, a daily driver that boasts only a supercharger as modification (no suspension, no LSD) and expected all kinds of torque steer and pushing, which we got with the system turned off. Turned on, the car became a different, far more manageable beast--even in the wet--thanks to the TCS.
While the Hondata Traction Control system proved effective at performance applications on a road course, Hondata's Doug Macmillan points out this system also improves vehicle manners on the street. The asphalt jungle can be a wild one, and surviving with traffic and bad drivers can be improved with the help of traction control.
Kudos to Hondata for producing another great product--designed and made in the USA to boot. MSRP for the unit is $795; additional specific details for the Hondata Traction Control are available online at: www.hondata.com/traction_control.html.