When driving in winter conditions with icy/snowy roads, you may encounter oversteer or understeer. Here’s what to do in these two situations.
You can encounter both oversteer and understeer in winter when the road is not optimally prepared for driving. This most often happens when the car is turning, and instead of holding the line of the turn, the wheels start to slip
Oversteer and understeer
We’ll start with the definition of oversteer. This is a phenomenon in which the rear of the vehicle tends to fall out of line outward, especially during a turn. The front, on the other hand, goes down the inside of the turn at the same time. What is the cause of this phenomenon? Low or no grip in the rear wheels, while at the same time retaining grip, at least a little, in the front wheels.
Understeer is the opposite situation. Here, the front of the car is not pressed into the center of the corner and the rear is thrown outward. In this case, it is extremely difficult to maintain the turning radius, which results in the car falling off the course. The turning radius widens, the turn has to be longer and less sharp. This creates a force of inertia with the vector opposite to the turn; this is usually when the driver completely loses control of the vehicle and falls off the course (e.g. instead of turning, he goes straight).
How to deal with oversteer?
Now that we know what oversteering is, it’s worth knowing a few rules that will tell you how to get out of this situation. First of all, do not apply the brakes all the way down. Most drivers have exactly such a reflex, unfortunately it is contrary to what experts and former racing drivers say. The rear wheels are slipping on the road and you try to block them by applying the brakes.
So what to do in this situation? You can countersteer, which means turning the steering wheel in the opposite direction of the turn. Having previously driven to the left, behind the road, now we have to turn sharply to the right. The car will most likely reverse and stop on the shoulder or the opposite lane. It is also worth remembering that when you perform this maneuver in front-wheel drive cars, you should add a little gas, but very little.
Okay, but does it always have to look like the car will be rear-ended after the first “counter” with the steering wheel and land on the shoulder or the opposite lane? Of course not. This is where the second “counter” comes to our aid.
After the first jerk to the right, when you feel the car returning to its optimal position, you should immediately jerk back to the left, which is how he leads the turn. The next step would be to straighten the steering wheel and get back on track and drive smoothly. Of course it seems simple, in practice, however, it is not. However, these rules can save your life and health in many situations!
Under-steer – how to avoid skidding out of corners?
Under-steer skidding most often happens when you enter a bend at too high a speed. Have you ever experienced a situation where you try to turn but the car keeps going straight and nothing changes? An unpleasant feeling, that’s for sure. However, it can be remedied
Understeer means that it is the front axle that has lost contact with the ground, so it needs to be glued back to it. All you need to do here is let off the accelerator, straighten the steering wheel, which wasn’t responding to our commands anyway, and then gradually push the accelerator back in until it stops. After a short while, the car should regain traction. The biggest mistake drivers make is tightening the steering wheel. Since the car didn’t respond even on a slight turn, there is no point in wasting time trying to get out of the skid, as is the case with oversteer.
Interestingly, understeer can happen even at low speeds. This is a good way to train for when it’s time to get out of a skid at higher speeds.