The Basics of Racing
Lesson 7: Understeer & Oversteer

WARNING: Don’t Use This to go Get Groceries. But, it’s Standard on the Track.

Last BLOG (number 6) we talked about Traction Control. I explained that traction is, once a car is moving, dynamic and constantly changing. Now we move on to a closely related subject: Understeer and Oversteer. First it’s important to understand that understeer and oversteer are only experienced by race car drivers. Because a car has to be driven to the “limits of adhesion” before a driver can experience the results of these two conditions. Secondly, since understeer and oversteer are terms that are not easy to visualize, I offer up a definition that I like to use with beginning drivers. It makes the two terms easier to understand: 1. Think of understeer as meaning that the car is “under responding” to the turn. Look at illustration number 1 above. The car is understeering (under responding). The driver is turning the steering wheel. But the car doesn’t respond as it should. The problem is that there is not enough traction, at the front of the car, to get enough grip to make the turn. This is a result of two things: First –  the driver is using too much throttle which is transferring too much traction, and weight, to the rear tires. Secondly – the driver is turning the steering wheel too much. We call this “over driving the car”. No matter how much the driver cranks on the wheel the car will continue to not respond. The solution is counter intuitive. The driver must straighten out the steering wheel, allowing the front tires to start rolling again and gain grip. Once grip is achieved the car can be steered again. Now, on to oversteer. 2. Think of oversteer as meaning that the car is “over responding” to the turn. Look at illustration number 2. Here the driver has turned the steering wheel and the back end of the car has come out. This means that there is too much traction at the front and not enough in the rear of the car. It is a result of breaking too hard, which throws the weight of the car forward, or too much throttle, which spins the tires and results in loss of traction. The solution to oversteer is to make sure that your breaking is all done before the turn and that you are applying throttle smoothly as you hit your apex. Then squeezing on the throttle as you exit onto the straightaway. Next time, as we begin to wind this series down: Basics Number 8: Preparation.

Just like a race car your business can easily get out of control. Out of wack. The whole thing’s a balancing act. If things go wrong the proper response can be, and usually is, counter intuitive. Sometimes you can “crank on the wheel”, as hard as you can, but you keep going in the wrong direction. Other times you can have the whole thing spin out on you without a moments notice. It takes a real pro to properly achieve controlled results.

I’m Larry. On the weekends I’m either driving a race car or teaching someone else how. During the week I’m the Creative Director at Ninthlink. Flag us down. Let us help you find your your correct position in the market place. And get you on a winning track with your online business. Call to action: Let’s get you moving. Email me at: [email protected]

Are You Understeering, Oversteering, or Neutral?

Do not attempt. Professional branders on a closed course.

Join the discussion 142 Comments

Leave a Reply