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What Is Handling My Car?

You may have come across the term "car handling", especially in vehicle reviews. But do you know what it means? Car handling is a description of the way wheeled vehicles perform transverse to their direction of motion, particularly during cornering and swerving. It also refers to the stability of the vehicle when moving in a straight line.

There are two terms related to handling you should be familiar with. The first is "understeer", which refers to the tendency for the front wheels to drift towards the outside of the turn. "Oversteer" is when the rear wheels tend to slip towards the outside of the turn more than the front. Here are some factors that affect a car's handling:


Although handling is a property of the car, peculiar habits of individual drivers cause the car to perform differently.


Car handling changes during wet weather when the roads are slippery, as this means less friction between the car tyres and the road.

Weight Distribution

When cornering, all other things being equal, front-heavy cars tend to understeer and rear-heavy cars tend to oversteer. To overcome the problem, a weight distribution close to "50/50" (centre of mass is midway between the front and rear axles) produces the preferred handling compromise, with all four wheels and tyres being of equal size.


In general, larger and stiffer ply tyres increase road holding and improve handling. On most types of poor surfaces, large diameter wheels perform better than lower, wider wheels. Increasing tyre pressures reduces slip angle while the depth of tread affects the likelihood of aquaplaning.


Cars can be stabilized by fins and other rear aerodynamic devices. Car aerodynamics are frequently designed to compensate for the inherent increase in oversteer as cornering speed increases.


The driving style of the driver influences steering control. The steering strength used and transmission of road forces transmit back to the steering wheel. This translates to the steering ratio, which is the number of turns of the steering wheel to turns of the road wheels.

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