The Significance Of Understeer And Oversteer To Improve Balance

Keeping the tires in contact with the track road and optimizing their contact patch is one of the roles of suspensions. When there is an increase in acceleration, the forces used in cornering and braking can be used to manipulate the suspension adjustments. Suspension tuning, then is critical if the racer wants to be able to have a more competitive race car with a more balanced design.

Suspension tuning can change the way a race car behaves on different tracks. Using your car’s strength is a sure way to gain an edge. You can do this by eliminating the weak components in the car’s chassis or refining the car’s balance. If your main goal is the latter, then you can reduce the understeer and oversteer of the car.

What is understeer and oversteer?

Undeersteer happens at a time when there in no sufficient mechanical grip found on the front tires and the car won’t move as the driver wished it to. When this happens, the car’s direction will not change even when you turn it into an apex. Instead, front tires just slide and move towards the direction in which the car moved before taking the corner. It will end up running wide. This is one of racer’s worst problems during a race.

For almost all cars, the engine is put on the front. As the weight is put on the front tires, there is a need to balance things and transfer some of it to the rear tires. Otherwise, when you drive around a corner, all of the car’s weight does not want to change direction.

understeer

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On the other hand, oversteer happens when there in no sufficient mechanical grip found on the rear tires. For example, you are driving at high speed and suddenly another race car is right in front of you. So, you hit the break. What happens is that you are putting ample grip on the front tires, causing imbalance. A normal driver usually resorts to turning the wheel. However, this will only end up to have your rear wheels out of control. In the end, the car will be sliding and the rear end swinging towards the direction of its centripetal force.  Like understeer, this can be pretty scary too.

How understeer and oversteer affect balance?

When you’re joining a race, you must be able to fine your balance. It crucial especially when you are making turns. However, with understeer and oversteer, you’ll tend to have the car move in a way you don’t want it to. In some case, this will result in accidents. To regain balance, you must make sure that you have reduced understeer and oversteer properly and had a better handling of the car.

How to solve understeer?

There are several suggestion on how to understeer. Any of them, if performed well, can help the driver resolve the situation.

Bumps and Rebounds

You can use shock absorbers in dampening spring oscillations. This way, you can have better handling when making turns. If you soften the dampers, you reduce responsiveness. The opposite happens when you stiffen the dampers. To reduce understeer,  you have to soften the front dampers and stiffen the rear dampers.

Spring rates

Springs help control the movement of the tires that are in contact with the road surface, usually over undulations and bumps. If you stiffen the spring, then you will minimize body roll and make handling easier. However, you will lose traction when the road is bumpy. On the other hand, if you soften the spring, it’ll be easier for you to have grip when the track is bumpy. However, this will reduce its responsiveness and increase body roll. To reduce understeer, you must stiffen the rear springs and soften the front springs. This way, you can give some weight to the rear wheels. This will also lead you to having more dive when you brake.

Ride height

Having a low ride height makes the car’s center of gravity low, too. If you know how to use this to your advantage, you can easily transfer weight when you are cornering, thus improving the car’s performance and avoiding understeer.

Anti-roll bars

Anti-roll bars, also called stabilizers or anti-sway bars, is used in resisting body roll when the car is doing a turn. If you stiffen the anti-roll bars, you will be able to have a responsive handling and minimize body roll. If you soften anti-roll bars, you will increase body roll but reduce its responsiveness. If you want to address understeer, the best thing to do is to soften the front bar and/or stiffen the rear bar.

Corner and static weight

Camber is used to create an angle between the tire and the road. When you understeer, the car usually does not want to turn due to the front tires having lesser grip than the rear tires. To solve this problem, you only have to adjust the front camber settings to a minimum understeer or the rear camber to the maximum understeer and find the car’s balance.

How to solve oversteer?

oversteer

Photo source: http://www.pagenstecher.de/Car-Fakes/Car-Fake-Anfragen/t176972p1/Porsche-Turbo-Drift-faken.html

When reducing oversteer, you only have to remember the keypoints mentioned in solving understeer and apply different techniques.

Bumps and Rebounds

Reducing oversteer would only need you to stiffen the front dampers and soften the rear dampers. This will increase the responsiveness of your front tires. However, remember that you must not get both dampers too soft or too stiff. If you do, it will either make the handling mushy or increase bumpiness and harshness of the ride.

Spring rates

You will reduce oversteer when you soften the rear springs and stiffen the front springs. If you do so, you’ll be giving the necessary mass transfer to the rear wheel when you are accelerating. This will provide you with more traction on the wheels on the back of the car.

Ride height

If you are using a rear-wheel drive car, you must improve the tires’ traction during acceleration. To get the maximum mass, you only have to increase the ride height. However, once you do so, test your car in acceleration test and take note of its performance. If there’s further need, adjust ride height again.

Anti-roll bars

Since stiffening the front and back stabilisers will give you more responsiveness and less rolling, you can stiffen the front stabiliser. Also, to reduce oversteer, soften the rear stabiliser to maximize its body roll.

Corner and static weight

When you oversteer, the car’s rear will slide. For you to find what’s the best adjustment of camber, you have to consider this. Then, one end at a time, use the car’s balance as a starting point and adjust the front and rear cambers to minimize oversteer. Once you adjust the camber, you might need to tweak the rest of the car’s settings, like the stabiliser.

Adjusting your car’s settings and components will help you in reducing oversteer and understeer. However, you have to do your part as well. You have to make sure that you adjust to the car’s set-up and handle it well. Avoid driving into corners harshly and throttling your rear wheel drive car quickly. If you do, you’ll still face the same problems. Only this time, it is not the car’s fault, but it’s yours.

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