minidat-technical.jpg (2637 bytes)
Handling & Handling Balance
By Dave Lum

blank50.gif (825 bytes) 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.

If your car understeers If you car oversteers
Softer front springs Stiffer front springs
Smaller front anti-sway bar Bigger front anti-sway bar
Decrease front negative camber Increase front negative camber
Less front tire pressure More front tire pressure
Wider front tires Narrower front tires
Decrease front weight bias Increase front weight bias
Increase rear negative camber Decrease rear negative camber
Stiffer rear springs Softer rear springs
Increase rear tire pressure Less rear tire pressure
Bigger rear anti-sway bar Smaller rear anti-sway bar
Narrower rear tires Wider rear tires
Increase rear weight bias Decrease rear weight bias

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

Technical Dept Home