Over & Under Steer Explained

When taking a car past the limit, or at least the limit of the tire grip you might encounter some adverse affects. These are frequently either Under Steer or Over Steer. Lets talk about that.

Before We Start

If you driver slower or normally then there’s a good chance you’ll never encounter these phenomenon. Also it’s worth mentioning that most consumer cars have a slew of features to prevent under & over steer, it’s most commonly seen in racing vehicles, F1 is a great example.

Under Steer

This occurs when your front tires loose all grip in a corner (due to speeding), making steering nearly impossible. This will push the front end of your car towards the outside of the corner. In simple terms the cars weight and momentum give the car move influence than the steering wheel. Imagine you’re driving very fast towards a corner, then when turning the front looses grip. So despite your wheels pointing where you want to go the car simply slides forwards rather than towards where you steer. The same is true for braking too harshly in corners. Understeer is almost always caused by speed, so in the unlikely event you find yourself in this situation just ease off the gas & brakes. Don’t pull off completely, just slowly loosen up on the pedals. Want to avoid it in the first place? Don’t drive very fast.

Over Steer

Over Steer is pretty similar but the power comes from rear in RWD cars, so when it occurs from behind the back of the car wants to overtake the front. Again, by pushing tires past their limits by either massive speeding, braking or suddenly removing your throttle. Oversteer can look very cool though, and it’s often stabilized by drivers who enjoy drifting, they’ll force the car to oversteer and then stabilize it into a drift. It can be just as detrimental as understeer since you’re forfeiting a lot of control over your momentum and steering. On the racetrack it looks cool (but it won’t help you win) and on public roads it’s usually the sign of an accident about to happen. The same applies here when trying to wrestle with an oversteering car. That is to slowly and consistently reduce your throttling.

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