Tackling Understeer and Oversteer

Share With Friends:

With the holiday season well and truly upon us, naturally you are probably itching to remove the dust cover of your pride and joy and hit the road for a picturesque summer road trip. However, whether you own a Viva or 911 RS, none of us are completely safe when the unforeseen rears its ugly head.

Imagine this. You approach a corner, and turn right or left. However, instead of navigating the turn, the front tyres lose grip and the car continues straight on, this is called ‘Under-steer’ and if left unchecked, will bring your holiday run to a swift end. Okay, then, how about this? You approach the same corner, make the turn, but this time the back of the car steps out and you start to slide. This is known as ‘Over-steer.’

Both under-steer and over-steer can happen as a result of poor weather, poor road conditions or applying too much power, or too much braking in the bends. Either way, both can be deadly if steps aren’t taken to correct them.

Plus, as most of us know, many classic and vintage cars seldom lack features like traction control or ABS. While this provides us with the most pure and exciting driving experiences known to man, the analogue tech of cars of old means we have to keep on our toes to ensure surprise under-steer or over-steer doesn’t ruin our plans for those fast approaching summer road trips.

Therefore, I will show you what to do the next time you are caught unawares by under-steer or over-steer.


Let’s being with under-steer. This is notably more common in front- wheel-drive cars as the front wheels have the task of steering and propelling the car forward. This can put plenty of stress on the front tires which, if you turn quickly, can become overwhelmed and give up completely, sending you careering straight on, and into that lamppost you are trying desperately to avoid. However, the same thing can occur in rear and all-wheel-drive cars as well.

The easiest way to combat under-steer in a corner, is by reducing the amount steering lock and easing gently off the throttle. This allows the front wheels to find grip and pull you around the corner. A common mistake driver make is they panic and try to correct the slide by applying more steering. This means the tyres will be trying harder to find grip and makes the slide worse. Others lift off the throttle completely, which can the rear unstable and flick out, resulting in ‘lift off over-steer,’ so be aware.


Nine times out of ten, rear-wheel-drive cars are prone to over-steer, with the rear wheels losing grip in a corner, and the back stepping out of line. This happens as a result of turning too hard or applying too much power. In some cases, grabbing a lower gear than normal at speed accidentally, can cause over-steer by locking the rear wheels after minimal change in direction.

If you find yourself in an over-steer slide, the best thing to do is counter steer into the skid and gently lift off the throttle. For example, if turning right, gently turn in left to counteract the slide and slowly come off the gas. Put this together and your car should straighten out and regain traction. Too much power and you will spin.

As you can see, the key with combating under-steer and over-steer, is gentle movements for whichever way you are sliding. Too aggressive and your car becomes unbalanced, too passive and your situation wont change.

There are also certain things you can do out of the driver’s seat to reduce your chances of getting into a mess, such as making sure your tires are up to scratch. The less tread you have, increases your chances of being caught out with a lack of grip.

Therefore, when out on the roads this summer, as The Eagles would say “take it easy.” Don’t be in a rush and have an innate desire to get to your summer destination as quickly as possible. After all, it’s the journey, not the end goal that really counts. Isn’t that why we drive classic cars in the first place?

Leave a Reply