oversteer: handle it

Oversteer probably accounts for more crashes than anything else in the world of amateur racing. Oversteer occurs in a corner when the front tires have more grip than the rear tires. It’s easy to make this happen. Applying your brakes or suddenly lifting off the throttle will shift the weight and traction forward, which can cause the rear tires to slide out. You can also induce oversteer by hammering on the throttle in a rear wheel drive car because a spinning tire has very little traction.

Most cars come from the factory with understeer. That is, the front wheels start sliding before the rears. The knee-jerk reaction to a skidding tire is to slow down, and this is exactly the recovery action for understeer because it transfers the weight forward, to the skidding tires. Recovery from oversteer is totally different. You can’t release the throttle or you will only transfer more weight to the front and oversteer more. You have to OPEN THE WHEEL and either maintain throttle or increase it.

In this video, the unfortunate driver has a car with natural oversteer. The car wants to turn in all by itself. You can hear the tires squeal a bit as the rear begins to step out. The driver then lifts off the throttle very gently, but it’s still too much. By the time the driver is doing his hand-over-hand parking lot maneuvers, it’s way too late.

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