Understeer And Oversteer: What Are They And How To Control Them

Rally Car Racing
Rally Car Racing
Professional Car Racing
Professional Car Racing

Be it a professional car racing or a commuter who is on the expressway, you never really know when things can go out of control and turn from bad to worse. Most drivers know the ABC’s of driving, but what is usually not taught in most driving schools is how to get out of tough situations. What we are about to talk about is the literal definition of tough and sticky situations- understeering and oversteering and how to get them under control. Read on…

Understanding Under Steering And Over Steering

While most drivers who have made themselves familiar with racing cars on track, there are some misconceptions and a lack of grasp in what these two terms mean.

What Is An Under Steer?

This occurs when the vehicle you’re driving turns way less than the angle that has been aimed at by the steering input. The front wheels of the car generally struggle to get grip and traction, which in turn causes the car to rotate less and makes your car to push wide on a turn.

What Causes Your Car To Under Steer?

This usually happens when there is something wrong with the driver’s input. It happens when you turn the steering wheel too quickly, abruptly, harshly or with the vehicle having too much speed and very little available grip for the front wheels to hold on to. This will cause the nose of the car to slide across the road wider or even completely out of control.

The reason could also be the road condition. Oil slicks or wet/cold road conditions can cause the vehicle to understeer. Too little weight upon the front wheel and poor weight distribution can also worsen the situation.

You will know you’re understeering when:

  • The steering feels way too light
  • Your car is drifting to the outside of the bend
  • The front wheel starts to screech.

How To Go About Controlling An Under Steer?

As mentioned earlier, understeer occurs when the front wheels don’t have the grip to hold on to the road well enough for the speed at which you are going. To regain control, it is important to get traction.

Begin with the obvious: reducing speed. Ease off the throttle slowly or even brake slightly. This should become instinctual. The act of doing so helps in further throwing the weight forward due to inertia and helps the front wheels press down on the road better.

Another mistake that many novices make is turning the steering wheel to correct the loss of control. This does nothing but aggravates the problem, as turning the wheel at this point increases the steering angle more and causes the front end to grip less. Although counter-intuitive, momentarily letting go off of the throttle and relaxing on the steering wheel will help in regaining control.

Now a couple of arrangements can be made in certain wet or icy condition tracts to reduce the likelihood of understeering. These are:

  • Reducing the tire pressure or by making use of softer tires, especially on the front wheel.
  • The aerodynamics is made in such a way to enable more down-force on the front.
  • Lessening the rigidity of the front springs.

What Is Oversteer?

Oversteer can be seen as much like the opposite- the rear wheels slide sideways in a bid to overtake the front wheels. In such a situation the car rotates way more than the steering input given by the driver.

What Causes Over Steering?

There are three driver instances that cause the car to oversteer. These include:

  • Lifting off of the accelerator when making a turn
  • Too much of trail braking
  • Suddenly slamming on the throttle while making a turn. The effect is more when in a more powerful lower gear.

The first two instances involve the weight distribution being thrown to the front. This causes the rear tire to become lighter and will be left with very little grip as a result. This causes an ‘oversteer slide’ when the front tires enter a turn.

The last instance involves too much power being put into the mix too fast. This causes wheel spin with the lateral inertia resulting in the spinning tires to simply glide sideways.

How To Come Out Of An Over Steer Slide?

The first thing would involve turning into the bend. This must be followed through and you mustn’t change your mind mid-way if the car doesn’t respond instantly. Your hands on the steering wheel must follow where your eyes lead, so simply look in the direction you would want to go and nowhere else!

Your car will gain control and you will comfortably navigate out of the turn. Be sure to accelerate when you are about to exit the bend.

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