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New ESC Requirements for Suspension Aftermarket

Posted in Events on November 12, 2013
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This year at the SEMA Show there was a lot of talk about Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 126 and how it relates to lifted trucks. FMVSS 126 requires electronic stability control on all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds GVW. In an effort to provide lifted trucks straight off the showroom floor and put OEMs and dealers at ease, Pro Comp was one of the first companies to test their suspension lift systems and demonstrate that they do not adversely affect the stability control on new vehicles. They started with the new ’14 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 because these are one of the most popular trucks on the market.

Many others have followed suit, for a variety of reasons. While this is another selling point and no one wants to be left behind, it also reduces the liability on suspension manufacturers if their kits are compliant. Rancho, BDS, Skyjacker, Daystar, and Zone have all had their suspension lift kits certified for ’14 Chevy Silverados, and other models are being certified as well. Rancho has certified their ‘09+ Ford F-150 kit for example, and Zone has certified their Jeep JK suspension.

The National Highway Safety Administration claims “ESC systems use automatic computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to assist the driver in maintaining control in critical driving situations. NHTSA estimates ESC will reduce single-vehicle crashes of passenger cars by 34% and single vehicle crashes of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) by 59%, with a much greater reduction of rollover crashes. NHTSA estimates ESC would save 5,300 to 9,600 lives and prevent 156,000 to 238,000 injuries in all types of crashes annually once all light vehicles on the road are equipped with ESC.”

So how do companies get their vehicles certified? One option is to perform the tests “virtually” using computer generated models associated with the ESC software. Most companies have chosen to perform real world testing with trucks outfitted with robotic steering and outriggers and run through a closed course at a set speed and then put through evasive maneuvers to test the electronic stability control. The test is not cheap and if companies don’t pass it is back to the drawing board, so this is something that quality suspension manufacturers will all be taking into consideration for lift kits in the present and the future.

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