The Differences Between Understeer & Oversteer

Although current cars have different mandatory safety systems, such as traction control and electronic stability program (ESP), they are not 100% infallible in the face of all situations that may occur on the road. Therefore, it is essential that you know a series of driving techniques that can help you in situations of risk. In this article, we will try to clarify the differences between understeer and oversteer, as well as ways to avoid it with a series of tips.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the vehicle must be in perfect condition. It is recommended that you carry out a review prior to any long trip and solve any problem that may involve a risk to the safety or proper functioning of the car. Once at this point, knowing a series of driving techniques will help you to act quickly and avoid dangerous situations.

Differences between oversteer and understeer

Both situations are in a curve and may be caused by excessive speed, lack of adhesion of the pavement, poor condition of the tires, suspension or steering of the vehicle, or an abrupt movement of the steering wheel that exceeds the car capacities. The oversteer is the skidding of the rear wheels and they cause the top, while the understeer is the skidding of the front wheels. That is, when you take a curve, the car turns less than it should despite the steering wheel rotation and we take a more open trajectory than we should.

In the case of oversteer, you will appreciate when it occurs, that the rear is off the line dictated by the front train (direction), trying to overcome your position and may end up in a spin if we do not dominate the situation. It is usually given in cars where the propulsion is in the rear train, although it does not prevent it from happening in front-wheel-drive cars. On the other hand, if there is understeer, you will appreciate that, at the entrance to the curve, the car tries to follow the straight path even though the front wheels are turned towards the vertex of the curve that we want to draw. This situation is more common in front-wheel-drive cars than in rear-drive cars.

Tips to avoid it

Learn to control oversteer

As we have already indicated, oversteer occurs in situations in which we apply an excess of power on the rear train, due to displacements of the load, a firm sliding, strong changes in the direction or when braking abruptly with the car in support. To control the oversteer you must step on the clutch and quickly turn the steering wheel in the direction of the skid (counter steering), getting the wheels to face the same side where the vehicle skids and eliminating the forces of the engine brake.

Once we correct this deviation of the rear or oversteer train, we must undo the maneuver, that is, release the clutch and step on the accelerator again in a smooth and controlled way so that the car remains stable. If we do it sharply again we can cause a spin. Dosing acceleration is the technique that drifting professionals use to prolong skidding.

How to correct understeer

The understeer is the opposite technique to the oversteer. As indicated above, these situations commonly occur in front-wheel-drive cars, although those with rear or full-wheel drive are not exempt from this problem. It is commonly a problem of speeding at the entrance to a curve, but this situation can also occur due to a soft and imprecise direction, as well as a sliding pavement.

If understeer occurs, we must now be cautious and very tactful. The best way to correct it is to lift the accelerator pedal and control the direction, treating it gently and undoing the turn. Do not step on the brake abruptly, as you will block the front train and increase the effects of understeer. We must act gently on the brake, although we have an ABS anti-lock system.

If our car does not have this system, we must release the acceleration and apply small touches of the brake, both actions can become a substitute for ABS based on driving skills. The car, by inertia, must return to achieve greater grip by moving the load to the front axle, which will allow us to have control of the vehicle again.

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