Learn How to Combat Understeer in Any Car with Team O’Neil Rally
Among the key points: look where you want the car to go, not at the ditch where you’re headed.
Proper car control is one of those criminally-underrated disciplines there is, and the fact that it's not part of every driver's education course is a real shame. Thankfully, the guys at New Hampshire's Team O'Neil Rally School have been doing their part to make sure everyone knows how to keep it together at the edge.
We've previously learned about proper hand position,
left-foot braking, and the Scandinavian Flick, and now thanks to their latest video, how to deal with the scourge of understeer - in other words, what to do when you turn the wheel but the vehicle keeps going straight. This can be due to slick road conditions, excessive speed, bad tires, or simply driver error. But the result is usually the same: a trashed car and a hefty repair bill.
So while calling it "The Most Important Car Video You'll Probably Ever See" is maybe a slight exaggeration, it's well worth your time to watch the instructor flog an all-wheel-drive Subaru Impreza, two front-wheel-drive Ford Fiestas, a rear-wheel-drive BMW E30, and a four-wheel-drive Jeep Cherokee around the same 90-degree corner to demonstrate what to do when spinning the steering wheel stops working. Despite the differences in drivetrains, the formula for overcoming understeer is the same across the board.
As he shows, simply keeping the wheel locked to one side and your foot on the gas is going to send you off the road. But jamming the brakes will also affect your ability to steer, so instead what you need to do is lift off the throttle, brake gently to transfer the weight to the front wheels, and turn like you normally would thanks to the resulting increase in grip. But most importantly, you need to be looking at the road the whole time. The second you look at the ditch (or tree, or rock, or whatever the obstacle) is the second you hit it.