What is Understeer?
In the understeer condition, your car will be trying to plough on straight ahead rather than driving around a corner. Accelerating makes the condition worse, taking your foot off the accelerator and even light braking sees grip return to the front wheels as weight is transferred to them but this takes time.
To reduce understeer we need to induce greater weight transfer to the front wheels to increase their grip. If we stiffen one end of the car, we allow weight transfer away from that end. The easiest way to stiffen or soften the suspension of a car is by fitting a set of adjustable dampers or coilovers. This is often the starting point for suspension changes as both will allow damping adjustments over a range from hard to soft. Many manufacturers of coilovers offer springs of varying stiffness rates allowing you to experiment with harder and softer springs. Anti-roll bars act in a similar way to springs, resisting body roll during cornering, stiffer anti roll bars can be purchased, many of which are adjustable to offer differing degrees of stiffness. Try the following to alter the weight transfer characteristics of your car:
- Try softening the front damping or stiffening the rear damping to encourage weight transfer to the front wheels.
- Use softer front springs or harder rear springs.
- Use a softer front anti-roll bar or a stiffer rear anti-roll bar.
You can also make changes to the physical components and set-up of your cars suspension to maximise the tyre contact with road at the front or rear depending upon where more or less grip is required. Depending on how adjustable you cars original suspension is you may need to purchase front or rear adjustable alignment bars and camber adjustable top mounts (many coilover kits come with these as standard) in order to alter the physical set-up of your specific car.
- Increasing toe-in at the front and/or setting toe-out at the back encourages the rear of the car to break traction more readily than the front which has the effect of increasing grip at the front.
- Increasing front camber can increase the front tyres contact patch on the road increasing its grip during cornering.
- Reducing rear camber reduces the rear tyre contact patch at the rear will again encourage the rear to break traction more readily than the front increasing front end grip.