Towing Vehicle Weight and Distribution

What is ESC and How Does It Work?

17th December, 2020 by rvSafe Team
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Unsure about Electronic Stability Control in your RV or caravan?

Here’s the lowdown.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is one of the greatest improvements in caravan safety to have been introduced in recent times. The technology has been adapted for vans from one pioneered by the auto industry for use in motor vehicles. The complicated vehicular system, such as those found in motorhomes, senses and compares the vehicle’s trajectory with the driver’s steering input. When things are starting to look troubling, the system reduces engine power and applies selective braking to bring the vehicle back under control.

The ESC system in a caravan is a bit more straightforward, since it doesn’t need to account for steering and engine output, it merely has to keep the van in its rightful orientation.

It’s easy to appreciate the importance of ESC when you consider that shaking and sway leading to loss of control is a major contributor to accidents involving vans. No matter how careful a driver is to avoid sway, it’s almost impossible to eliminate the on-road factors that can set a van to shaking; these can include anything from road surface, buffeting slipstreams from oncoming trucks, uneven tyre pressures, poor packing and wind. When left unchecked, these can build up to the point where a van loses balance and topples over, sometimes taking a vehicle over with it.

Many drivers will panic when their van starts to sway, which can make things worse. The best way to handle it is to steer as little as possible so as not to contribute to the lateral forces, reduce acceleration and apply the trailer brake

But before it even gets to that point, the best defence is ESC.

The ESC system installed on a caravan uses a sensor underneath the van to monitor sideways movements, small oscillations or sudden jerks. When these forces cause the van to lurch to a critical point, the system applies selective braking to bring the van back into line.

Reputable manufacturers will likely include ESC into every new build, however it’s important to double- check in case you need to select it as an optional extra. If you own an older van, it’s easy to have a system retrofitted on a single axle or tandem axle caravan.

It should also be mentioned that as good as ESC systems are, they aren’t infallible and are not a replacement for careful driving. Careful driving is still the most effective tool to combat the dreaded sway and keep you and your family safe on the road. But in the event that things do get a bit wobbly, it’s nice to know there’s an ESC system doing its bit to help out.

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