Understeer, A Short Explanation

Here’s the thing,

There are a lot of car words and terminology thrown around, and there are a lot of people that don’t know what they mean, or entirely what they mean, so here is this weeks entry of, A Short Explanation.

Last week we talked about oversteer, so this week we are going to talk about oversteer’s equally as dangerous brother, understeer.

231px-Understeer-right-hand-drive.svg

Pretty much the short description is, you turn, your front wheels lose traction and go out much further than you had intended.

Understeer isn’t necessarily more dangerous or less dangerous then oversteer, but at least this time you don’t end up doing a 180 degree turn and end up facing traffic. However, best case scenario if you are understeering is you end up in the lane next to you, worst case, you end up in the wrong lane looking at cars coming at you.

A lot of causes of understeer, as with oversteer, can be due to driver inexperience when it comes to taking a corner. Those can be taking a corner too fast with a Front Wheel Drive vehicle, and you lose grip with your front drive wheels, too much braking which makes you lose steering, leading to understeer. Or quite simply, you take a turn way too fast with a FWD vehicle, and there is too much speed for your car to handle and adequately turn the desired amount in time.

Getting out of understeer is a lot easier then oversteer, but you still have to recognize the signs in time. The most obvious of course is, your car isn’t going where you want it to go, it’s drifting to the outside, and you’ll feel it’s a lot easier to turn the steering wheel. First thing you should try, is lighten up on the throttle and continue trying to correct your path, and let off the brakes a bit, in essence more coast then braking or throttle. Just remember, don’t go flat out and then try to brake while you are turning, get your braking done in a straight line, leading up to the turn, then once you hit the apex and begin to exit it, then lay on the throttle, and you should be alright.

Some more reading about it can be done over here.

And that, that’s the thing about understeer

-Jeremy

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