Handling & Handling Balance
By Dave Lum
|Understeer : The tendency of the front
of the car to "push" when negotiating a corner (car wants to go straight)
Oversteer : The tendency for the back end of the car wanting to come around (car wants to spin)
Neutral : The car neither oversteers or understeers
There's also how the cars handles in transition (the first moments of changing direction - like a slalom), and steady state (a long sweeper, or skidpad). The items in the below chart, as well as the overall geometry of the car's suspension design, all come into play. Ideally a car would be neutral under all conditions, but that is very rare
Most cars are designed from the factory to understeer, as it's safer for the general public. If you go into a corner too fast, the first reaction is to usually hit the brakes. If it's a car that oversteers, hitting the brakes (usually) will bring the tail around and spin the car. Not usually considered a good thing. If it a car that understeers, hitting the brakes will generally slow the car and allow it to negotiate the corner.
There are several ways to improve handling so this. See the chart below for what you need to change to improve balance.
Some cars won't have the option to change some of these characteristics. If the car has a solid rear axle, then rear alignment settings can't be changed. It would also be unusual for a car to run wider tires up front than in the back.
It's also best to approach these changes in moderation. Change just one "set" of items at a time. Changing tire pressures and alignment settings all at once may be too extreme of a change