Some form of Traction Control has been standard equipment on every Corvette starting with the 1992 C4. It carries the rather Orwellian name "Acceleration Slip Regulation" in C5s. Call it what you may, it does make the C5 a much safer and easier to drive car in less than ideal conditions.
It also can be damned intrusive at times, whether you're driving in an autocross or at the drags, or just want to "bark" the rear tires a little, since the ASR is always on until and unless you manually disable it (via the button in the center console), each and every time you start the car. There is a feature called "Competition Mode" that provides some degree of traction control, but still allows you to light 'em up a little. But no matter what, you still have to manually shut off the ASR whenever you want to play.
We are not condemning the factory Traction Control--it is, all in all, a major and beneficial safety item. It just seems a little irritating that you have to disable to system whenever you want to be even the least bit irresponsible. We'd like it a lot better if the ASR was in a standby mode, ready to be activated whenever road conditions were less than optimum.
Well, our wishes have been answered. The TracActive Controller, manufactured by LapTrax, Inc., is a simple-appearing little device that allows C5 drivers the option of having the car start in either "TRACTION CONTROL-OFF" or "COMPETITION MODE" (with Active Handling) rather than always starting with the ASR activated and having to manually disable it. When installed, the TracActive Controller is operated via the factory control switch in the center console, and switching back to "TRACTION CONTROL-ON" is as simple as pushing the button.
There are two versions of the unit, a "standard" and a "Deluxe" system; the difference being a fourth wire, which connects into the DIC (Driver Information Center) switch panel and automatically overrides (resets or clears) the "TRACTION CONTROL-OFF" or "COMPETITION MODE" message that reads out on the DIC, below the instrument cluster.
We like cars that do what we want, when we want, rather than ones with a surfeit of Big Brother-like systems intended to protect us from ourselves. The Traction Control and Active Handling systems are terrific to have available, for use in inclement conditions or for when the car is being driven by a less than expert or experienced driver.
With that in mind, we contacted LapTrax and ordered a "Deluxe" system, then installed it in an '00 coupe for evaluation. Both versions, standard and Deluxe, wire into the Body Control Module, which is located behind the passenger side toeboard (the vertical part of the footwell floor). The toeboard is attached with two metal clamps or clips, similar (maybe identical) to the ones on the floor of the luggage compartment. The instructions are very clear, and there are but three controller wires to be spliced to the BCM harness (wire tap connectors provided). The Deluxe version has a fourth wire, which must be extended across, behind the console, to be spliced to the blue wire on the DIC switch panel harness. The installation is quite straightforward and the most trick tool you'll need is a No.15 Torx driver if you're doing the Deluxe controller. It will take a while and it does help to be limber, but this is not difficult for the average middle-age guy to do, without needing a follow-up visit to the chiropractor.
Before using for the first time, the unit must be programmed, which is a no-brainer to do. (This is also needed if you're going to change modes from "...OFF" to "COMPETITION..." or "...ON.") You first put the Controller into programming mode by turning the ignition key from "off" to "accessory" and back to "off." Then press down the factory Traction Control/Active Handling switch and listen for the controller to double-beep twice, the indication that it's in programming mode. To then set the operating mode you want to be on at all times, unless you choose to override it, press and release the switch until you hear the correct number of beeps for the mode you want--one for "ALL AIDS OFF," two for "COMPETITION MODE," and three for "PASSIVE MODE" (the factory system operating in normal fashion). The settings can be changed at any time and you can manually override the preset operating mode.
The TracActive worked great. It was really nice to start a C5 and not have the car take charge of how we might want to drive--in other words, "TRACTION CONTROL OFF." On the other hand, it was super simple to activate the traction control when wanted, as during the two days of rain during our test period. It's a terrific little tool for anyone who wants to go drag racing or autocrossing, where some degree of wheelspin is desirable, and you don't want to have to remember to turn off the expletive-deleted traction control before each run. Yeah, we like the TracActive Controller and highly recommend it to any C5 owner who wants to take control of his or her car.
Bet you didn't even realize...
Bet you didn't even realize that the right-forward footwell panel in the C5 was removable. Here it is with the carpet mat rolled back.
And here's what lurks behind...
And here's what lurks behind the removable panel. The bright part with the bar codes and multiple wiring harnesses is the Body Control Module (BCM).
Three wire tap splices link...
Three wire tap splices link the TracActive Controller to the BCM. We're pointing to two of them with the screwdriver.
The Controller has a Velcro...
The Controller has a Velcro patch on its backside to make it easier to attach it in an out-of-the-way spot. We opted to locate the Controller, which we're pointing at with the screwdriver, in the recess to the left of the BCM.