How Tos / Tech

Quick Tech: Oversteer vs. Understeer and How to Correct Both

 
Understeer-Oversteer-Small

Image by Craig Cole

Oversteer and understeer are terms used to describe steering sensitivity in vehicles. We’re going to introduce you to both conditions, and talk about the ways they can be corrected, if so desired.

You can also learn about it the Top Gear way here.

Oversteer

Rear tire drift is greater than that of the front, and the rear tends to “spin out.” The vehicle will end up closer to the center of the circle because the rear tire drift changes the direction inward.

Or, simply: Oversteer takes place when a car turns more than the amount commanded by the driver.

Oversteer is common in rear-wheel-drive cars and generally caused by a lack of traction at the rear tires.

When you break loose, oversteer is occurring.

Ways to Correct Oversteer

  • Lower front tire pressure
  • Raise rear tire pressure
  • Stiffen front shocks
  • Soften rear shocks
  • Raise front end
  • Lower rear end
  • Install narrower front tires
  • Install wider rear tires
  • Stiffen front sway bar
  • Soften rear sway bar
  • Reduce front negative camber
  • Reduce positive caster
  • Stiffen front springs
  • Soften rear springs

Understeer

Front tire drift causes the vehicle to refuse to turn as sharply as the direction the wheels are pointed. If the wheels and throttle are held steady, the vehicle will make an ever-widening circle.

Or, simply: Understeer occurs when a car turns less than the amount commanded by the driver.

It’s “push” in racing lingo. It’s a natural handing characteristic of front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive vehicles. You turn the wheel, but you just go straight. Which is bad.

How do you fix it?

Ways to Correct Understeer

  • Raise front tire pressure
  • Lower rear tire pressure
  • Soften front shocks and stiffen bump
  • Stiffen rear shocks
  • Lower front end
  • Raise rear end
  • Install wider front tires
  • Install narrower rear tires
  • Soften front sway bar
  • Stiffen rear sway bar
  • Increase front negative camber
  • Increase positive caster
  • Soften front springs
  • Stiffen rear springs

Oversteer and understeer are more common problems in racing than in street driving. As such, weather and track conditions, as well as varying driving styles and abilities will also play a role.

Source: Oversteer and Understeer corrections courtesy of Roger Kraus Racing.

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One Comment

  1. Joseph Brunetti says:

    Enjoy ur articles!

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