Understanding Understeer and Oversteer
The understeer and oversteer defines a situation in which a vehicle loses its traction and gets out of control. This can occur when the sensitivity and coordination between tyres and steering are disrupted due to excessive force applied on axles. The vehicle either moves outward or inward than the required angle resulting in reduced traction. In these circumstances, a lot of expertise is required to gain back control of the vehicle.
Let’s discuss understeer and oversteer, their difference and reasons of occurrence in more detail.
What is Understeer and Oversteer?
The simple answer to what is understeer and oversteer is that when the car turns more or less than the driver’s intent. However, there are many more complexities involved in these phenomena. The art of drifting vehicles is also associated with over and understeer. High speed or slamming brakes are necessary for these conditions to occur and make up one of the understeer and oversteer causes.
See the following elaborated definitions of understeer Vs oversteer.
The understeer happens when the front tyres are forced to turn at a high speed or braking force. The additional momentum provided to the front axle locks the steering and forces wheels to turn in the direction of the vehicle. Therefore, the vehicle starts travelling straight rather than turning in a direction and can cause an accident.
Oversteer is a similar condition however the same thing happens with the rear wheels. It occurs when drivers exert excessive pressure on the tyres by using emergency brakes or by accelerating. The excessive pressure slips the tyre angle and pushes the rear end of the car outwards.
Difference between Understeer and Oversteer
The slip angle is the angle of difference between tyre and vehicle direction. The understeer and oversteer both occur when the tyre angle slips between the rear and front wheels. Other differences between both the conditions are listed below:
- Steering Control: In understeer drivers have less control over the steering. Whereas, in oversteer drivers have less control over the vehicle direction and weight.
- Wheel Drive System: Understeer is more common in front-wheel drive cars. However, oversteer is common in rear-wheel drive cars.
How to Control Understeer and Oversteer While Driving
During under and oversteer drivers completely lose control of the vehicle that can result in severe consequences. Modern vehicles contain safety features to avoid these situations but it can also be controlled with expert driving. Here is the list of expert driving tips to control vehicles during under and oversteer.
Control Vehicle in Understeer
The first step in regaining control of the vehicle during understeer is to reduce the excessive force. Either it is acceleration or brakes release the pressure completely. This will transfer the vehicle weight towards the front tyre rod. Moreover, you have to reduce the steering input as it plays no role in-vehicle control during understeer. Gradually, release the input steering and reduce the excessive torque. Due to this, the tyres will regain a grip on the road and thus the vehicle will be controlled. Despite all this, it requires a lot of driving experience to control the vehicle in this condition. There are also some alterations in the vehicle that can reduce the cause of understeer.
- Reset your tyre pressure monitoring system and fill less air in front tyres.
- Use soft anti-roll bars or front springs
- Increase the front downforce of the vehicle.
Control Vehicle in Oversteer
The oversteer is more difficult to control as the driver’s input can not create much impact. However, turning the steering in the direction of the momentum (counter steering) can help. The driver is required to slowly increase the steering input and wait to regain control. It is advised not to increase the steering input or turn it rapidly, as it will increase the uncontrollability. Rapid counter steering can also create a pendulum effect that can lead to a vehicle rollover. The vehicular alterations to avoid oversteer are mentioned below:
- Reduce ride height by using coilover suspensions
- Increase toe-in
This was all about understeer and oversteer conditions. Any driver can encounter these situations while driving at a higher speed. Old vehicles lack safety features that cause more damage. Whereas, modern vehicles have fewer chances to encounter these situations due to multiple features. If you are interested in upgrading your older car, browse through these used cars for sale in the UAE.
Stay tuned to UAE’s top auto blog for more information on understeer and oversteer.