Understeer and Oversteer

June 9th, 2020 by
2020 Chevrolet Colorado Steering Wheel

Understeer and Oversteer are the two obscure terms used by the critics. Both terms describe how a car handles when you push it beyond the limit of tire grip. It’s worth remembering that people who drive more carefully won’t fall victim to oversteer and understeer, and there’s a raft of safety equipment on new cars to make sure that the accidents below don’t occur. Is it still confused? Let us help you! Bring your vehicle to our service center at our Atwater-area location and we can help you with any difficulties. Schedule an appointment with our service center today! Also, if you’re in the market for a new vehicle, reach out to our finance center to see what deals you can get!

What Is Understeer?

What Causes Understeer? We get asked what is understeer a lot at our Modesto-area location. Understeer happens when the front tires start to slide. This happens when the front tires are asked to turn while they also do a lot of acceleration and pace. If you’re going rather fast or braking very hard and trying to turn the wheel, the extra momentum can cause the front tires to slip in the direction you’re going so, instead of turning, the car’s going straight

How Do You Stop It?

Slowing down! Understeer almost always occurs whenever the driver is going too fast for road conditions–but this can be as harmless as 15 mph around a damp mini-roundabout. Taking things a little easier will stop most cases of exaggeration.

When you start understeering, you must start reducing the amount you push the accelerator or the brakes–don’t fall off them entirely–or reduce the amount of steering angle you add. Of course, you might still run out of the road, but this will increase your chances of getting the car back in control before that happens.

What Is Oversteer?

Oversteer is an extremely similar set of circumstances to understeer, but it impacts the back of the car. It’s the tendency of powerful rear-wheel-driven cars to want to overtake the front during cornering. If you’ve ever seen a Top Gear series, the presenters never test a fast car without some kind of oversteer. Professional racing drivers are qualified to keep a car in the sport of drifting in this country.

What Causes Oversteer?

Oversteer usually occurs in cars that drive the rear wheels which occurs when the vehicle is turning and the driver uses more power than the tires can accommodate. This makes the tires slip and tries to push in the opposite direction to the turn, kicking out the back end of the car. The same result can occur by accelerating too fast when you turn or by abruptly pulling your foot from the throttle.

When our customers ask us what is oversteer, we tell them it looks great on a racetrack or on a drifting event, as the rear of the car slithers around and tires the smoke into the stands, but it’s not as much fun on a public road as it normally indicates a very big accident.

How Do You Stop It?

The same advice applies to understeer–slow down! Power oversteer is often caused by the driver speeding up in the corner too fast, so if you’re at this point, you need to scan your speed. If you’re lucky enough to get into an oversteer situation, try to remember some basic tips–continue to look and steering in the direction you want to go and don’t jump off the accelerator or slam the brakes all of a sudden. Seek to modulate the throttle, if you can, to gradually stop yourself.

While all road cars are prone to understeer, in the rear-wheel-driven ones, you will also need to watch oversteer, so be careful if you are an inexperienced or not particularly confident driver if you buy a car that drives the rear wheels. It should go without saying that you don’t deactivate your traction or stability control unless you’re on the racetrack.

Bottom Line

In cold, rainy weather, the readiness of the car to oversteer or understeer is greatly increased because there is less friction between the tire and the road. This is even worse throughout the snow, so always pay close attention to the weather.

Because tires are a significant component of the process, make sure that your tires are always at the correct pressure and depth to withstand surface water. If your tire pressure light won’t turn off after inflating your tires, check out these tips to reset the tire pressure light. If your car is starting to show more oversteer and understeer than normal, test the tires and also consider testing the orientation of the wheel. If you have more questions about this topic or any of the services that we can provide at Western Motors Merced, contact or visit us at our Turlock-area dealership for more information!

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