Gaining the Winning Edge
Tire traction, bite, grip-call it what you want, but it is the only thing contacting your tires to the asphalt, and it determines everything on the streets or racetrack. By the time you realize traction is lost, the tire stops accelerating and begins to spin freely--it's already too late. Regardless of how advanced your vehicle's electronics may be, the bottom line is that the car's entire braking, accelerating, and cornering performance has to be translated through the four small patches of rubber in contact with the road. The name of the game is achieving maximum tire traction.
Traction can be lost in virtually every type of car, driving condition, and motorsports venue. It doesn't take much torque to spin the wheels of a Honda, even with sticky tires, limited-slip diff, and boost by gear. Whether you decide to drag race, road race, or land-speed your vehicle, eliminating wheel slippage not only shaves precious seconds off the clock, but also means the difference between winning and losing.
Hondata, the aftermarket performance specialist that revolutionized the Honda tuning market, released a traction control system that uses an additional module that interfaces between your Honda's ABS sensors and S300/KPro/FlashPro engine management systems. The ABS wheel speed sensors (inductive or active) are utilized by splicing wires from each sensor into the TCS unit. Generally, vehicles before 2004 have inductive ABS sensors (including the '05-06 RSX). Vehicles after 2004 have active ABS sensors (including all TSX's, '06-and-newer Civics, and '06-and-newer S2000s).
The system works with inductive, active and hall effect sensors and can offer five different levels of target wheel slip, adjustable via switch knob module. The TCS determines the percentage of front-to-rear wheel slip and if the vehicle is cornering. The basic principal of traction control is reducing wheelspin by comparing the driven and un-driven wheel speeds, then sending the engine computer (ECU) a signal to reduce engine output if the wheel speed differential exceeds a certain value. When the wheel slip is greater than the target wheel slip, the ECU needs to reduce engine output. There are various methods of doing this (changing the throttle plate, cutting spark), but the most-effective methods are retarding the ignition and selectively not firing cylinders as the Hondata traction control system was specifically designed to do just that.
Traction Control Module Wiring (Installation)
Installing the TCS is a straightforward affair. Both the power and ground wires should be connected to the ECU power and ground to the ECU connector. Alternatively, the ground may be run to the ECU master ground (for Honda/Acura this is normally on the thermostat housing or valve cover).
Once the system has been installed and is fully operational, you can begin adjusting and monitoring your vehicle's traction characteristics using the 20 seconds of built-in data logging memory or data log continuously from a laptop running SManager, KManager or FlashProManager. "The onboard data logging records every sensor at 100 Hz, which is faster than the laptop data logging, so the use of onboard data logging will give a higher resolution data log recording," says Doug Macmillan, cofounder of Hondata. Once the Traction Control module is plugged in, data will automatically be displayed without requiring data logging. Using the system is an easy process, simply select your slip rate via a dash-mounted switch and the Hondata ECU (in a closed-loop function) will retard or advance the ignition timing, as well as drop cylinder firing until the desired slip rate is attained. The traction control system is very easy to set up and operate, and compares well to systems costing many times more. As with any performance vehicle, Hondata recommends if the vehicle does not have a limited-slip differential, then the installation of a LSD is recommended before using Traction Control.
Hondata Traction Control Feedback
Hasport Performance '01 Honda Insight
- 554 hp/322 lb-ft of torque
- Jackson Racing Rotrex C38-91 supercharger, custom intercooler
- S2000 AP1 84mm crank
- Cunningham Rods 6.18 inches (for a 1.87 rod ratio versus 1.62 for a stock K20 and 1.82 for stock AP1 S2000)
- 87.5mm CP Pistons
- 12:1 compression ratio
- Thermal coatings by Embee
- '06 K24 TSX long-block (reduced crank pumping losses)
- '06 TSX head by Portflow
- Stock '06 TSX valves
- Eibach valvesprings
- Titanium retainers
- IPS K2 cams
- All-in Fab tuck radiator
- Hy-Tech long-tube K24 header with 3-inch MagnaFlow exhaust
- AEM wideband O2 sensor
- HPD (Honda Performance Development) dry-sump system
- Hondata K-Pro/Hondata Traction Control tuned by both Doug MacMillan from Hondata and Tim Kelly from Xact Dyno
Brian Gillespie, marketing development specialist and face of Hasport Performance, built a company he shares with his brother into the premier aftermarket engine mount manufacturer for Hondas. From mild to wild, engine swaps consisting of K24A3 engine into a '94 Civic EG or a J32 V-6 powerplant in a CRX are just a few of the many parts that can be purchased though this Phoenix-based company. Most recently, Gillespie teamed up with Hondata to build and campaign a land speed vehicle. We caught up with him a few days after his Insight reset a new class record at El Mirage to talk about his run and the addition of Hondata's traction control system.
"The Hasport Honda Insight land speed car is powered by a K24 that has been destroked to 2.0 liters. The Jackson Racing Supercharger at 23 pounds of boost on 11.5:1 compression ratio delivers 554 hp at 9,270 rpm and 322 lb-ft of torque at 8,483 rpm.
"El Mirage takes place on a lakebed that is comprised of dirt. We ran the event on a set of Goodyear Frontrunners tires, which measure in at only 24 inches tall, 5 inches wide and are mounted on a 4-inch wide by 15-inch wheel. To put that into perspective, the contact patch is less than half the street tire on my Acura RSX. The first time I ran the Insight at El Mirage with this tire setup I was accelerating at less than 50 percent throttle up through Fourth gear. In Fifth gear I could still spin the tires at full throttle, but could manage 75 percent throttle. The track had been chewed up from some of the higher horsepower cars that had gone before me. Using full throttle in Fifth I could feel the front end hunting around for traction, which was a little unnerving at 150 mph. Regardless of the situation, I ended up short shifting every gear to keep the tires from spinning at which point I was able to hit Sixth gear and finally able to use 100 percent throttle at a constant 9,800 rpm, which netted us a speed of 172 mph.
"A month later we were back at El Mirage with the Hondata traction control installed and working. The first run of the day looked promising, as the car hooked up a lot better than our previous outing, but I was concerned about setting the record and not totally trusting the traction control, so I drove conservatively. We set our 179-mph record, so the pressure was off. We decided to take another run and test the traction control fully. It was a perfect test setup; the entire field had taken their turn so again the track was churned up with some loose dirt in certain areas. We took to our second run and to sum things up it was effing awesome! I was able to use 100 percent throttle in every gear and the car tracked like it was on pavement, not to mention the vehicle's acceleration was phenomenal. Not only was this the quickest I had ever accelerated at El Mirage, it was also the most stable the car had felt. All in all I believe it was a total success, as our time and data logs show the benefits of using the traction control system."
Data Log 2 was taken during the record-setting El Mirage run. The graphs represent two different takes on the same runs for the Honda Insight for the quarter-mile.
Despite power and weather advantages of the black run, the red run with traction control on was 1.33 seconds faster. Data log shows exactly what the Hondata TCS was doing for the Hasport insight. You can see the ELD voltage (over-slip value) progressively dropping as you go up the gears.
Black run represents traction control off:
- 16.42 seconds
- Saturday, May 18
- 89 degrees F
- No headwind
Red run represents traction control on:
- 15.09 seconds
- Sunday, June 9
- 109 degrees F
- Lower boost level (for reliability)