Have you ever been in a driving situation where you approached a turn too quickly and your car wasn’t able to turn enough, leaving the road? Well, you’ve essentially experienced understeering, a common occurrence in front wheel drive cars.
Understeering most often occurs when you enter a corner with too much speed for the conditions. When inexperienced drivers get into situations like this, they find themselves afraid and may make a vital mistake by locking up the front tires, making it nearly impossible to control your vehicles direction.
If you ever find yourself in a situation like this, lifting off of the gas transfers weight to the front tires, allowing them to grip the pavement better. Apply the brakes gently, while looking where you want the car to go at all times.
Vehicles with Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
If you have a car with ABS, they’ll pulsate brake pressure at all four wheels so that the tires keep turning instead of locking up. Sports car champion Johnny O’Connell stressed the importance of testing your vehicle’s ABS in his blog “Driving Tips: Understeer & Oversteer”. O’Connell recommends finding a safe, open area and practice driving and slamming on your brakes to experience what it feels like once your ABS kicks in.
“[Testing your ABS is a] pretty important thing to do with your car as you want to know what the feel and performance is like so that should you get in a situation where you need to use the ABS, you don’t want to get scared when it kicks in.”
Whatever you do, try and resist the temptation to steer harder when you enter an understeer skid. The problem needs to be fixed with the pedals and not with your hands.
Visit our Accident Avoidance web site for detailed information and scheduling on training which includes:
- “Swerve to avoid” maneuvers at highway speeds
- Ocular driving techniques (focus your attention on a positive goal such as an escape route, rather than a problem such as a tree or another vehicle)
- Understanding vehicle dynamics and feedback
- Skid control and recovery practice on a dedicated skid pad and on a slalom course
- Threshold braking on straights and progressive braking on curves
- Off-road recovery