Should I turn traction control off?
This is one of the most asked questions by new drivers. Should I use my traction control (TC) or should I leave it off? Well, it depends.
For a brand new to the track driver, I recommend leaving it on. It will save your bacon, and maybe your car. When you are just learning, there is a lot to take in. For many new drivers, it overloads the brain. Turn left, power on, brake, downshift, turn in, open the wheel; it never ends. The TC in the ND can be a good coach. When you feel it kick in, you most likely did something wrong. But if you rely on it all the time, there are downsides.
The question is then, when to turn it off? There is no definitive answer for every driver. It depends on your goals, the level of risk you are comfortable with, and the track itself.
Traction Control Off
If you are comfortable with the risk, then turn it off. If you need to be the fastest driver in the ND on the track, turn it off. If you want to race wheel to wheel in the future, turn it off. Start slow and get used the how the car feels at the limit. You’ll begin to understand the feedback the car gives you for understeer (easy to control) and oversteer (need fast hands for this one). Having it off is usually the fastest way around a track but this comes with the increased risk of a crash.
Traction Control On
If you aren’t comfortable with the risk, then leave it on. Maybe the walls on the track are too close. Maybe your car is your daily driver and you need to get to work on Monday. Forget about the purists and have fun on track with the TC on. Use it as a coach. Feel when it kicks in and drive in a way that limits its activities. It will teach you many things and make you a smooth driver. The downside is it will also make your hands slower and you may not know it is saving you, thus hiding issues you need to improve. If you drive with the TC on for a long period, then want to turn it off, you’ll need to relearn some things. Again, back it down and get used to the new feelings in the corners. Then work your speed back up.
You Do You
Traction Control on or off doesn’t have the same answer for everyone. The purists say it has to be off. Those that say it usually have a higher threshold for risk. If you are the casual weekend warrior on the track, doing a few HPDEs a year, and have a lower threshold for risk, leave it on. There isn’t any money on the line for a championship. You aren’t racing.
Ultimately you want to have fun on track. You do you. If you want to turn it off, go for it. If you want to leave it on, do it. We should all support each other in this hobby regardless of our traction control settings!