HotCars explains: How to describe a car’s handling | Taza Khabre

When you’re trying to understand how a car behaves, or even describe its behavior to someone, it’s difficult if you don’t know all the right descriptive terms and what they mean. So, here is a summary of the main processing terms. Note that this is the behavior that occurs if the stability and traction control systems are disabled.

There are different types of understeer

Julian Edgar / HotCars / Valnet

Insufficient controllability this is when the car does not turn as sharply when cornering, as indicated by the degree of steering lock. In other words, the front of the car is pushed out. A car that doesn’t turn enough off the road does so with the front end still turned in the original direction. Understeer is safer than oversteer (see below), so all car manufacturers set their cars to understeer when grip levels are exceeded.

The plow is not sufficiently steered or plowed

A car with insufficient turning of the plow completely stopped responding to the movement of the steering wheel – further rotation of the steering wheel does not affect the direction of the car. Insufficient turning of the plow is dangerous because steering control is lost. A car with loud screeching front tires is probably plowing understeer.

Amplifier of insufficient turning

Understeer power means that understeer increases as more power is applied. This is usually the case with front-wheel drive cars, but some four-wheel drive cars also behave this way. Understeer can be remedied by reducing the power, thus shifting the weight forward and also reducing the work the front tires have to do.

Insufficient turning

Insufficient turning this is when the car reacts slowly to the steering when it is first applied. Understeer at high speed can be very disconcerting, as it feels like you’re not going to get into a corner – and it doesn’t seem like there’s much you can do about it! Insufficient cornering at high speed is often associated with frontal aerodynamic lift.


All front-wheel drive cars I’ve owned have had understeer built in as standard. It’s usually a powerful understeer, with a little understeer when the suspension is soft. The easiest way to reduce understeer in the front wheels is to install a rear cross member or increase its size if it is already installed.

Excessive return means that you return more than you expected

S15 Nissan 200sx
YouTube – Adam LZ

Oversteer is a situation where the car turns more than the steering angle indicates. In other words, the rear part of the car slides outwards — it drifts. A car that goes off the road spins, so if the oversteer is not corrected by the opposite lock, it can hit sideways or tail-first (or even spin 360 degrees, hitting nose-first!). You can feel that the car is spinning around you.

Power oversteer

Car from strengthening of excessive turning oversteer increases with higher power. As a rule, this applies to rear-wheel drive cars. Excessive steering can be eliminated by gradually reducing the power. (Just ease off the power carefully, because if you come off the accelerator, the forward weight shift means the car can oversteer more — see Hill Oversteer below.)


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Excessive turning at start

Excessive turning when climbing occurs when the gas pedal rises sharply in the middle of a turn. This usually applies to front-wheel drive cars, but it happens in any car with high rear roll stiffness (springs or transverse wishbones). A car that oversteers when lifting is usually refueled if the throttle lift is not so great — that is, the front end will stop understeer and follow the steering wheel better.

Excessive turning

Oversteer is when the car initially turns an angle greater than the steering angle. This is very confusing because, as with understeer in a corner, it’s not immediately clear what can be done to stop it. (The answer is to loosen the steering lock a bit.)

1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 black parked
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I’ve had several cars with oversteer as a natural handling trait. The most obvious was my Skyline R32 GT-R in stock form it used an oversteer boost when you put your foot down! There was actually too much oversteer, but the adjustable front/rear torque distribution controller I designed fixed that. You can change the torque-distribution controller settings between corners, increasing the oversteer for slow corners (where you wanted the car to turn in) and dialing it back for high-speed corners (where you wanted better power handling). neutral).

On the other hand, with front-wheel drive cars, I prefer to set them to oversteer. That way, you can enter a corner, understeer, and then just lift a little to get the car into neutral or oversteer. Some cars, like the classic Impreza WRX, did this as standard (yes, even with AWD) and it made it very satisfying and easy to drive quickly.


Bump Steer can make cars jerk

Steering occurs when the wheels change their toe angle (the direction they are pointing) as the suspension moves up and down. It’s usually easiest to feel when cornering, when a bump-climbing suspension will have oversteer in the corner (it jerks in the corner more than expected) and a bump-climbing suspension will have understeer. insufficient controllability.

Steering is not steering feedback when the steering wheel moves when you go over a bump. Steering kickback is most likely to occur if you changed the width of the front wheels and the offset of the new wheels is incorrect. But when the going gets really tough, many front-wheel-drive cars have steering feedback, even if they’re equipped with stock wheels.

Breakdown-breakdown of the car
Via: Sweeneysgarage

If your car is handling unevenly, it is probably due to misalignment of the wheels. Once I replaced the front-wheel drive engine, installing not only the turbo engine, but also the front struts and brakes from a donor. The geometry of these parts was different from the original, so I got a huge amount of output, especially under tension. The behavior was very strange indeed! Wheel camber fixed it.

Roll linearity determines whether your car rolls when cornering

BMW M5's popular twin-turbocharged V8 engine.  A profitable used car

A car with linear roll is progressive in its roll, with the angle of roll directly related to how hard the car goes through the turn. A car with non-linear roll may lean quickly during a turn, but then not lean further as the cornering load increases. Roll linearity is rarely mentioned, but it’s very important to give the driver the right signals about what’s going on. The main reasons for the lack of roll linearity are very soft suspension bushings or non-linear springs.

Exterior shot of the 1998 Lexus LS400

The third generation Lexus LS400 I once owned had an extreme lack of roll linearity. You turn a corner, the car rolls massively, and you wait with your heart in your mouth until it flies off the road. It’s not (the roll angle is then set), but it was always very scary when cornering at high speed. Interestingly, the first generation LS400 was much better.

Steady state – the balance of under/oversteer

2024 Nissan Z NISMO on the race track

When the car is traveling at a constant (or near constant) speed, can the car oversteer (or understeer) and then easily return to neutral? If he can, it has merit stable under/over-turn balance. A ring rink is an ideal test environment to assess this quality. For example, a car can be put into just understeer by going a little faster and then applying more steering lock, or it can be put into just oversteer by applying a little more power (in a rear-wheel drive car). and then unscrew the steering wheel lock a little.

If you don’t have a lift, a roundabout might be a good place to explore. Just make sure it’s empty! Detecting the stable balance of understeer/oversteer is a quick and easy way to get a feel for the overall handling characteristics of the car – it won’t tell you everything, but it will tell you a lot.

Jerking is a feeling behind the wheel

Jerking describes how quickly the car reacts to the driver’s actions. A twitchy car responds very quickly to steering and boost. In a road car, this is usually tiring and sometimes confusing. However, a car that is the exact opposite of jerky will feel dull and unresponsive. Quick steering, hard damping of bumps and stiff transverse arches – these are the three characteristics that make the car jerky. As a rule, there are few cars on a slippery road.

Throttle valve

Front view of a 1983 Mazda RX-7 GS

A car that is on the verge of skidding (understeer or oversteer) and can then be brought into a state of slight skidding by changing the power is called throttle controlled. Throttle steering requires a very well balanced car with an engine that has linear torque response (so not a big turbo on a small engine!). Electric cars tend to have very linear and progressive throttle control, so they can be driven. (Or, since EVs don’t have a throttle, maybe it should be called “accelerator pedal steering”?)

If you can describe the general control, you can start to change it

Good handling is important in everyday driving, not just when pushing hard. While individual preferences vary, a car with good overall handling is one that is manageable, predictable and progressive… and has a high level of grip. And, mind you, exactly in this order!

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