When we get behind the wheel of a car, we all want to be safe and smart drivers with the skills to stay disciplined at all times. Unfortunately, there a lot of changing factors on the road which can seriously impact your control, such as speed, driving conditions, road surfaces, and more. A combination of these factors can cause any number of issues with how your car behaves and handles. Whether driving to work, or cutting laps on the track, it is important to familiarise yourself with these aspects, so that you can safely identify and react to anything the road throws at you. One such element that you should know about is called understeer.
Understeer is a term that describes the sensitivity of the steering of a vehicle, specifically when it steers less than what the driver intends it to. This means when going around a bend, an understeered car will lose its intended line. If this is not corrected or appropriately compensated for, it may result in the vehicle losing control or even leaving the driving surface. In contrast to oversteering, which involves a vehicle steering more than what the driver intends, it is an equally important behaviour to get to know. Understeer can be caused by a number of factors, such as speed going into a turn, or excessive braking or accelerating around a bend. Just like with oversteering, it can result in inefficient driving or even dangerous situations.
To understand understeering and how to compensate for it, it is important to learn how to identify and feel it when it happens to you. Then, armed with the knowledge of how to react, you can retain control and adjust to your conditions accordingly. Thankfully, this matter has received some attention from those in the know, and a tutorial has been written that can help you learn all there is to know. You can find this helpful guide here.
This comprehensive guide contains an extensive and detailed look at understeer, which gives you a thorough idea of what it is, and breaks down the reasons why it might occur. It provides some great insights into how understeer ‘feels’, by explaining what to look out for, and helping to identify when it might be happening to you. Then, it sets you up to deal with understeer by teaching you how to safely react and appropriately compensate to retain control of your vehicle.
This tutorial is recommended reading for anybody who gets behind the wheel, regardless of your driving experience. While it may not be a common issue at low speeds, it is always important to have a good understanding of how to react in any situation on the road. Although the intended audience is for those who hit the circuits for their track day driving experiences, it really is a need-to-know for any driver.