Oversteer vs. Understeer: What's the Difference?

The seemingly simple act of driving a vehicle down the road actually requires a complex balancing act of several forces simultaneously. Oversteer and understeer are somewhat common terms that describe two distinctly different circumstances. These conditions can lead to vehicle instability and can be very dangerous if the driver does not know how to respond to them.

Oversteer and understeer occur when the center of gravity of a vehicle carries more momentum through a turn than the tires can handle. In the case of oversteer, the traction of the rear wheels is defeated first, causing the rear of the vehicle to swing around and overtake the front of the vehicle, in other words, the car will spin. This is the same phenomenon that "drift" cars use on purpose. Oversteer mostly occurs with rear-wheel-drive vehicles. Understeer is the opposite case. The momentum of the vehicle causes the front wheels to lose traction first. In this case, the vehicle stops turning and continues on the current straight line, often leading straight off the road. In either case, the best course of action to restore traction is to slowly release the throttle and maintain the current steering angle.

Modern traction control systems can manage braking and prevent both from occurring. Visit Precision Acura of Princeton to learn more about these advanced systems.

 

 

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