Dynamic Stability Control: Explained

Now that snow, ice and other winter messes are showing up all over the world we have received many question about the functions of Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). The following information is a brief synopsis of each of its functions and the basics behind it all. We hope that this information is useful and provides you with some answers to your questions. The information here is for the newer generation of cars equipped with DSC.

DSC is ON by default, there is no need to press any buttons on start up. DSC uses a series of sensors to detect wheel spin, yaw rate of the car and other properties. Using sensors and other electronics it can apply the brakes as needed, cut engine power and with Active Steering it can make small steering corrections to better keep the car under control. In layman terms, all the nannies are on by default and help to keep the car from spinning out. When DSC is intervening a caution light will flash in the instrument cluster.

In some models, DTC (Dynamic Traction control) is a sub-function of DSC. It is activated by briefly pressing the DTC button. A light will light up in instrument cluster indicating this function has been activated. DTC will allow the wheels to spin, increases the angle at which the system will begin to apply the brakes (eliminates the yaw rate sensors) and does NOT cut the engine power. This system function is designed to allow the driver to spin the wheels in order to get through snow, ice and other conditions where wheel spin is required. While certain sensors are deactivated others still remain active. This function also provides a more sporty driving experience in dry conditions while at the same time being a limited security blanket. Having some track time messing with this system, DTC will still cut in and apply braking so you can’t get the back end out all that much but it still allows you full power to motor through. Like DSC a blinking caution light indicates the system is intervening.

DSC/DTC can be turned OFF by holding the DTC button for 3 seconds. The caution indicator light (as shown above) will remain lit in the instrument cluster, the nannies are now off and you are on your own so stay within your abilities!

A function of the DSC system that does remain active even when everything is OFF is the e-Diff (standard on the R56 JCW and some MINIs after 2009). The e-Diff essentially mimics the concept of a limited slip differential (LSD) but does so without the mechanical complexity and weight of normal LSD. It accomplishes this by applying braking to the spinning wheel and thus transferring more power to the wheel with better traction. This feature is also active in DTC mode.

While DSC and its companions provide you with an extra level of safety it is important to remember that no electronics, no matter how sophisticated, can over come the laws of physics and driver ability. In other words, drive safe and within your ability and exercise caution in less than ideal road conditions.

Written By: Gabe

  • jbkONE

    So is there any way to turn off ediff? As a potential Coupe buyer I need to know.

  • Blainestang

    While you can turn off all the traction control and power-retarding nannies, there is no way to turn off the E-diff.

    To clarify another point in the article, the ’09 JCWs all had DTC and the first Cooper and Cooper S models built with DTC were ’09 models that began production at the very end of November 2008.

  • lavardera

    My 07 without DSC has no DSC button of course – the center button of the trio in front of the shifter is blank, but there is an ATC button for the Automatic Traction Control. Do other Minis have both a DSC button and a DSC button? Or does the DSC turn off the ATC as well?

    You should add a description of ATC to the article along with the DSC and e-diff.

  • DanM
    Now that snow, ice and other winter messes are showing up all over the world

    Don’t you mean “over much of the northern hemisphere”?

    Fun fact, there is roughly twice as much landmass above the equator as below…

    North 61% water and 39% land South 81% water and 19% land

    Anyway, thanks for the info. :)

  • lavardera

    Reading the article again – Is DTC the R53 equivalent of ATC in the R56?

    The ATC is primarily noticeable at launch where it will suppress the throttle to prevent wheel spin. It can make the car feel like its hesitating or stalling because when you want the most go, stomping the peddle, its most likely to intervene. But this is nothing like the interaction with handling that you are describing.

  • CraigE

    ATC (all-season traction control) is just traction control with little to no stability control. It will not prevent oversteer for example.

    @jbkONE Why would you want to disable the EDLC?(electronic deferential lock control, AKA eDiff)It has few negative attributes. It saves weight, reduces mechanical complexity, no inaccessible wear items and more effective power transfer.

  • that.guy
    Why would you want to disable the EDLC?

    I think cuz it will smoke the brakes by the end of your first lap.

  • lavardera

    Yes – the traction control is actually ASC – got the initials incorrect.

    The 07 manual makes no mention of “DTC”, so again I’m wondering if that nomenclature is specific to the R50-53.

  • hardingsan
    the center button of the trio in front of the shifter is blank

    i’m pretty sure the middle button is for engine stop-start option in other countries. right of the shifter should be the DSC/DTC button.

  • hardingsan
    The 07 manual makes no mention of “DTC”

    i also believe that DTC was only on JCW’s until it became an option for the S in 2009.

  • Spokane MINI

    @jbkONE Why would you want to disable the EDLC?(electronic deferential lock control, AKA eDiff)It has few negative attributes. It saves weight, reduces mechanical complexity, no inaccessible wear items and more effective power transfer. The EDLC is one of the primary reasons I got rid of my 09 JCW Factory car and replaced it with a well prepared R53 for doing track days. The EDLC would overheat the brakes causing me to loose them coming into some critical corners. It would also accelerate brake wear. MINI doesn’t make rebuild kits for the brake calipers so I had to replace all 4 corners with new ones, at my own expense of course, because the heat caused by the ELDC cooked the pistons and rubber gakets.. Putting the brakes on when I am trying to accelerate makes no sense! MINI is in danger of loosing us serious track people who want a good mechanical system.

  • MINIme

    Had an ’05 R53 MCS with all bells and whistles, including LSD. I had never owned a car with DSC before. My only experience was with traction aiding devises was part-time 4-wheel drive systems and mechanical lockers. I couldn’t get out of my driveway when it snowed until I discovered that turning off the DSC would solve my traction issues. So, in short, DSC would override LSD and make me throw out a few FUs before I realized I was the dumbass.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1070696962 Kevin Stephenson

    Thanks for the article Gabe. I have always wanted a more technical description of what the different modes did/did not do on the MINI.

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