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Understanding Understeer and Oversteer

For those of you who are still confused or do not know this understeer and oversteer, we will discuss it fully here. Starting from the understanding, causes, to how to handle it.

Let’s begin.

What is Understeer and Oversteer?

The explanation of the two often reminds me of Top Gear , where Richard Hammond explains it simply .

Understeer is when we turn but the car keeps going straight, then crashes into a tree, and we die hehe. While oversteer is when we turn but the back of the car instead turns, then crashes into a tree, and we die.

That’s the understanding of both in a concise manner.

Understeer

Understeer is related to the front of the car. Especially the front wheels.

If the front wheels slip due to excessive workload when turning, either due to driving or braking too fast. At that time the wheel will lose its grip so the car will find it difficult to turn and keep going straight.

In a car with a front wheel drive (FWD) layout the engine power is channeled to the front wheel which is also a wheel for turning. That is why FWD cars will tend to be understeer.

Understeer is also one of the reasons why most cars have a FWD layout. Compared with oversteer, understeer is considered safer because it is easier to predict and control.

Symptoms that appear when the car starts to feel understeer are the steering feels lighter, the speed of the vehicle when turning wide out, and sometimes the sound comes from the front wheel tires.

Oversteer

The opposite of understeer, the back of the car is the main focus of oversteers.

If the rear of the car we are twisted and as if to drive forward, well that’s oversteer.

Similar to understeer, oversteer occurs when the rear wheels of a car slip or lose traction. This happens because the driver is driving or braking too fast when turning or also because of releasing the gas pedal suddenly when turning (lift-off oversteer). Turning too aggressively can also cause oversteer. Oversteer will tend to occur in cars with rear wheel drive (RWD).

In high-level driving techniques , the oversteer’s condition is maintained until it exits the turn. That is drifting .

Symptoms that appear when the car starts to feel oversteer is the back of the car feels less stable and lighter due to reduced traction and of course the car starts to twist into the corner.

Facing Understeer and Oversteer

In essence, the main cause of understeer and oversteer is the loss of traction (friction) due to tire slips or loss of traction either in front or behind. If that happens, the things we can do are as follows.

  1. In FWD cars, if we turn at too high a speed and the car starts to understeer, reducing the gas will also reduce the workload on the front tire. This will restore the grip of the tire. In addition, when we reduce the gas there will be a load transfer to the front which provides additional traction in the front wheels of the car.
  2. Reducing the magnitude of the steering angle will also help the front tire to regain traction. So, do not keep turning the steering wheel fixed but reduce it so that the tire gets grip again. The more the steering wheel is turned, the more difficult the car will turn.
  3. Do not release all the gas suddenly when the car is turning. Moving the load forward can make the car lose balance which can cause oversteer (lift-off oversteer).
  4. Compared to FWD cars, RWD cars are more resistant to understeer because of the difference in the role of the driving wheel (rear) and the turning wheel (front). Even so RWD cars will sometimes understeer when we bend the gas pedal gradually. Meanwhile, if we press the accelerator aggressively in the corner, the RWD car will be oversteered.
  5. Most braking processes should ideally be carried out in a straight line before turning . Late braking timing so that doing most of the braking at curves will add to the workload of the turning front tire. Especially when braking, the burden of the car will be in front. This is when understeer or oversteer will occur. Reduce braking so that tire grip increases to be able to turn back.
  6. Oversteer can be controlled by doing counter-steering or opposite lock . This technique is done by turning the steering wheel in the direction of the back of the car. If the rear of the car moves to the left then immediately turn the steering to the left, and vice versa if to the right then turn the steering to the right. Do not forget to always focus and see the direction of the road we want to go, this will help us adjust the amount of steering angle on the counter-steering .
  7. Tire quality is one of the important factors causing the occurrence as well as the cause of successful recovery in understeer and oversteer.

Car Modifications to Reduce Understeer and Oversteer

The tendency of each driver is relatively different, there are those who prefer a car that is slightly oversteer or oversteer. Or maybe there is also someone who likes understeer cars?

Now, in addition to the driving technique or car control, understeer and oversteer can also be reduced (or added) with modifications to the car. Modification is fairly modifications quite simple and effective way to make the handling more neutral. The effect will be felt especially in the needs of high-speed cars such as cars on the track.

Here are some modifications to reduce understeer and oversteer.

Understeer

  1. Reducing front tire air pressure.
  2. Soften the spring and anti-roll the front bar.
  3. Use softer front tires.
  4. Increase downforce on the front. Can use air diffuser / splitter, air dam or other aerodynamic modifications.
  5. Reducing the height of the front of the car.
  6. Adds the rear wheel camber.

Oversteer

  1. Reduces rear tire air pressure.
  2. Soften the spring and anti-roll rear bar.
  3. Use softer rear tires.
  4. Increase downforce on the back. Can use spoilers, wings, air diffuser / splitter, air dam or other aerodynamic modifications.
  5. Reducing the height of the rear car.
  6. Add the front wheel camber.

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