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H - Handling

05 June 2006

Handling - This is how a car behaves when travelling through a corner. It is to do with how much traction the car has, how much it leans and how the steering feels in your hands. Good handling is about more than just keen driving, it's about keeping you on track when you discover a patch of wet leaves on a roundabout on a rainy night.

Ideally a car's handling should be neutral. However, most tend to understeer or oversteer depending on their weight distribution and which wheels are driven.

Oversteer is loss of rear-end traction. If a car oversteers, the rear wheels slide wide, causing the car to corner more tightly than intended (i.e. it over-steers), and there is a risk it may spin. Typically these cars are rear-wheel drive, and enthusiastic drivers enjoy 'driving sideways'. However, it takes skill to control this trait.

Understeer is loss of front-end traction, so a car will tend to veer wide of the intended line (i.e. it under-steers). This is a characteristic of modern front-wheel-drive cars. To correct it, drivers need to gently lift off - a natural reaction, and so most cars are designed to understeer rather than oversteer for safety.

Glossary

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