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What does It Mean to Oversteer?

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  • Written By: C.L. Rease
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Oversteer is when the back of a vehicle moves around a corner faster than the steering wheel turns the front of the vehicle. In extreme cases, the vehicle can spin in the opposite direction and may result in damages to both the automobile and the object it strikes. The condition of the road surface, vehicle suspension system and driver ability can all lead to losing vehicle control. Knowing the common causes of oversteer and how to recover control of the vehicle when this occurs can lower the chances of an accident.

Entering corners or turns too quickly, accelerating aggressively through curves, and even braking too suddenly can increase the chances of oversteer. Slowing the speed of a vehicle when entering sharp turns can reduce the amount of inertia exerted on the rear end of the vehicle. Even at a slower speed, a vehicle can oversteer when traveling slowly through a sharp turn on slick, icy roads. Keeping a vehicle suspension system and tires in proper running condition can help the driver maintain control of the vehicle.

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A vehicle suspension system keeps downward force applied on the vehicle tires while driving. As the suspension systems wears, the force applied on each tire lessens, and this reduces vehicle traction. The possibility of vehicle oversteer increases as the rear tires make less contact with the road surface. Even with a working suspension, a driver can lose control if the tires of the vehicle area are worn to a point that little or no tread remains on the exterior surface of the tires. Tire tread provides a channel that directs water away from the tire's contact area and allows the tire to grip surfaces containing gravel or loose dirt.

When all vehicle components are operating correctly and oversteer occurs during vehicle cornering, the driver has the means to avoid a potential accident. Correcting vehicle oversteer requires the use of both the vehicle's steering and throttle systems without overcompensating and causing the vehicle to veer in the opposite direction. Turning into the direction of oversteer as the driver slowly increases or decreases the speed of the vehicle can cause the front of the vehicle to move in the direction of oversteer as the rear end of the vehicle pulls back to position. Practicing vehicle correction in an icy parking lot can allow a driver to be prepared should a vehicle oversteer.

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