Understeer can be an annoying side effect of increasing your wheel horsepower, especially in front drive vehicles. Whenever you are adding bolt ons that will help your engine breathe and produce more power, you’ve got to make the matching mods to braking and suspension. Unfortunately that’s not always the case for most of our customers who drive higher horsepower front drive vehicles.
If you have a track car or even a weekend warrior, understeer can ruin your lap times and decrease the fun factor that comes with trail braking or letting off because you are understeering.
What is Understeer?
It may be confusing to some, but the term understeer is a relatively easy one to understand. When you are turning your steering wheel and find that the car won’t turn any further, this is known as understeer.
Understeer is caused when the vehicle’s front tires have a greater slip angle than the rear tires. This causes your car to plow or continue to travel forward, when in reality you want it to turn.
Improper suspension or lacking sway bar support will go a long way in contributing to understeer. Today we’ll be showing you how to prevent understeer, with several easy steps you can take to help decrease your lap times.
What Causes Understeer?
Understeer is naturally occuring phenomenon in stock production vehicles, if only because it’s a safer condition than oversteer. Typically letting off the accelerator or trail braking can help correct the understeering vehicle and get you back on track. This is what car manufacturers envision at least when they think of one of their cars being pushed to the limit.
Sadly the fact that stock vehicles understeer from the factory is lost on many front drive enthusiasts, especially as they bolt on headers, exhausts, turbos and fuel components in the quest to go faster.
Engine swaps and modifications can also contribute to this problem, because you are only adding weight to the front of the vehicle.
Modded Honda Civics and Integras are some of the biggest culprits as owners ignore the sway bars and suspension parts needed to put the added power to the pavement.
How To prevent Understeer
Some of the most common methods in how to prevent understeer are listed below, and if you have any questions about your suspension setup don’t be afraid to give us a call at 1-888-776-7022 to speak to a ASE certified sales representative.
- Tire Pressure – One way to combat understeer is to deflate the front tires and lower the tire pressure, while raising the tire pressure in the rear tires.
- Camber – Increase front wheel camber negativity and give your rear wheels more positive camber correction. Need an alignment? Give us a call to schedule your appointment!
- Spring Rates – Decrease front spring rates and swap your rear springs for a stiffer set
- Sway Bars – Get a smaller front sway bar or just swap to a larger rear sway bar. Most Hondas and Acuras will require additional subframe support for this kind of modification.
- Toe – No, not the five stubby things on your foot. We are talking front and rear tire toe, and knowing how to prevent understeer can lead you to increasing front tire toe and decreasing rear tire toe.
- Tire width – Increase the tire’s contact patch up front by going with a larger or wider tire. Decrease the width of your rear tires for increased steering response.
- Weight Shifting – Quite possibly the easiest way to learn how to prevent understeer is shifting weight in your vehicle. If you have any heavy belongings in your car, try to shift as much weight to the rear of the car as possible. This should be the first thing you try before investing any money in upgrades or swapping parts.
That does it for our How To Prevent Understeer article, for more auto enthusiast news and how-tos and DIY articles, subscribe to My Pro Street.