Skip advert
Advertisement

What is understeer?

Can't get your head around understeer? And want to know how to control it? Our handling guide explains...

Understeer is the term used for when a car doesn't have enough steering lock to make it around a corner. It usually happens on the entry of a bend, and means that the driver has turned the wheel, but there isn't enough steering input for the car to follow the corner around, so it heads towards the outside of the corner. This usually happens if a driver enters a corner too quickly and the front tyres lose traction.

How to control understeer

If you experience understeer in a corner, the easiest way to counter it is to reduce your speed and add more steering lock. If it's happening while you're cornering, then you should lift off the throttle to let the nose of the car turn. If you apply the brakes, it can upset the car's balance, meaning that the back of the car might come around too quickly for you to react - this is called oversteer.

Volkswagen Golf - rear cornering

In most situations understeer is easier to manage than oversteer, which is why the majority of cars come with a suspension set-up that is designed to produce understeer at the point that the tyres lose grip, to ensure the car is safe to control. In addition, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) will be able to counter any understeer in a faster time than a human driver can react.

How to avoid understeer

The best way to avoid understeer in the first place is to slow down sufficiently before you enter a corner. Try and look as far ahead as possible and take note of any markers that indicate what type of corner you're approaching. If there are black and white direction chevrons, then be prepared to slow down a lot, while street lights will be positioned around the outside of a bend, so if you can see the lights but not the road ahead, you can still plan for which direction the road is going to go in.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Use the brakes to slow the car in a straight line (this is more effective than braking in corners, and it doesn't upset the car's balance as significantly), make sure you're in the right gear for the corner, and look at where you want to go. Turn in smoothly to keep the car stable, and once the corner opens up, unwind the steering lock and get back on the power. Practice makes perfect, and if you apply this technique every time you drive, it will eventually become second nature.

What's the best car to drive that you've ever owned? Tell us about it in the comments section...

• What is understeer?• What is oversteer?• What is drifting?• What is torque steer?

Skip advert
Advertisement
Senior test editor

Dean has been part of the Auto Express team for more than 20 years, and has worked across nearly all departments, starting on magazine production, then moving to road tests and reviews. He's our resident van expert, but covers everything from scooters and motorbikes to supercars and consumer products.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Tesla slashes Supercharger membership cost with 42 sites now open to all EVs
Tesla Superchargers
News

Tesla slashes Supercharger membership cost with 42 sites now open to all EVs

Tesla has cut the costs of its Supercharger Membership, which grants access to lower charging rates, by £2 per month
19 Apr 2024
The average UK car is now 9 years old, as drivers delay replacements
Ford Fiesta Titanium front
News

The average UK car is now 9 years old, as drivers delay replacements

41.4 million vehicles are on the road, but they’re getting older faster than they’re getting cleaner
19 Apr 2024
Best small SUVs to buy 2024
Best small SUVs - header image
Best cars & vans

Best small SUVs to buy 2024

There's a huge range of small SUVs out there, so we’ve picked out the very best
19 Apr 2024