Whats the difference between oversteer and understeer?


Pro Tuner
Staff member
2002 Clio 172
Now a driving question, I've wondered about the difference between oversteer and understeer?

I hear oversteer and understeer applied in a negative way to cars cornering but what do the terms mean?
Put simply understeer is when you hIt the wall front on.
Oversteer is hitting the wall with the boot / trunk.

Tiff can explain it way better than me so here you go
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Factories tend to build in some degree of understeer (called push by the Americans) into vehicles as that is the safer option for the run of the mill every day non enthusiast motorist as it is easier to control PROVIDED THAT the person behind the wheel knows which end of the car does the driving.

IF the car is understeering and running wide the natural reaction is to wind on more steering BUT that only reduces the tyres grip as momentum will want to keep the car heading where it is pointed not where the front wheels are aimed so as a general rule in that situation get off the gas and reduce the steering angle as that will improve steering response.

Just to clarify a tyre has 100% of it's grip when going straight and the more you increase the steering angle ( wind on more lock) the grip to help a change of direction reduces in proportion as the angle of the tyre to the road gets further away from straight ahead.

For more on grip read my post re friction circle on 9/2/2020 here

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