ABS, ASC, AST, ASC+T, DSC – What Does it All Mean?

With all the new and improving technology BMW is putting into the Z3, it’s easy to get lost in the ever-growing sea of acronyms. When the Z3 was first introduced in the 1996 model year, BMW included Antilock Braking System and that technology has stayed in the Z3 ever since.

The next technology to be added to the Z3 was All Season Traction. There is a lot of confusion on this technology because it appears it goes by several different names. Sometimes called Anti Slip Control or Anti Slip Control + Traction, when you are talking about a Z3 you must realize that all of these names are for the same technology. The rumored story behind this confusion is that ASC was the initial name, but someone didn’t like the word “slip” since it suggested the car was susceptible to slipping. So they renamed it ASC+T, adding the word “traction” to the end. Later, the word “slip” was removed altogether and they started calling it AST. If you visit BMWUSA’s webpage, AST is the official name they used to describe the technology (but the buttons on the dash are still labeled ASC).

Well, whatever you want to call it, it was initially an option on the Z3 in 1996, eventually becoming a standard feature a couple months into the 1997 model year. The AST technology has continued to be a standard feature in all Z3 models with the one exception of the 1998 model year M roadster. The entire 1999 model year Z3 line up (including the M roadster and M coupe) once again featured both the ABS and AST technologies as standard features. This duel technology made the already nimble Z3 safer and easier to control in panic situations than the majority of cars on the road.

According to reports, starting with the 2000 model year the Z3 gets another new technology. With the addition of Dynamic Stability Control, the newest BMW Z3 now has three distinct technologies working for it making it an even safer vehicle to drive.

Antilock Braking System (ABS)

BMW antilock braking system (ABS) helps prevent wheel lock-up under hard braking or slippery conditions. This helps you stop while retaining steering control to avoid objects or potentially dangerous situations. The technology works on all four wheels and it is always turned on (can’t be turned off).

All Season Traction (AST)

a.k.a. Anti Slip Control (ASC)

a.k.a. Anti Slip Control + Traction (ASC+T)

BMW All Season Traction (AST) continuously monitors the rear wheels for wheel slip. If slippage occurs at the rear wheels, AST controls the brakes and the engine to restore traction. AST can be disabled with a push of the button, and there are times when it is recommended you do so (like when using the mini-spare tire).

Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)

Dynamic Stability Control works with All Season Traction to detect and correct abnormal under or over steer conditions that can result in a loss of control. By monitoring steering angle and individual front wheel speeds, DSC logic can immediately recognize loss of lateral stability. When this occurs, the DSC system selectively applies the brakes and adjusts engine power to help restore directional control (think of DSC as AST for the front wheels).

It is my opinion that BMW’s continuous commitment to improvement and safety should be applauded. The technological balance of power and control built into the BMW Z3 is ahead of the other roadster vehicles on the market today and should be considered one of its most important features.