Weight transfer occurs when force is applied to a vehicle, causing a shift in the weight distribution. It can happen when the car accelerates, brakes, or turns. The weight transfer affects the vehicle's handling and can cause it to become unstable.
In track driving, weight transfer is integral to keeping drivers safe on the road. As the sport requires quick turns and sudden stops, being an excellent driver doesn't only mean following a straight line and ensuring safety while steering and braking. But what should new drivers know about it?
A vehicle's weight constantly shifts because the center of gravity continually changes. The center of gravity is where the vehicle's weight is evenly distributed. When a car is at rest, the center of gravity is usually in the middle of the vehicle.
However, the center of gravity shifts when the vehicle is accelerating or deaccelerating. When a car turns, the vehicle's weight shifts to the outside of the turn because the centrifugal force pushes the vehicle's weight to the outside of the turn. The same thing happens when a car accelerates or brakes.
The definition of cornering is "the act of turning a vehicle around a corner." Cornering is the most common type of maneuvering in driving. A vehicle's cornering ability is determined by the tires ability to grip, the suspension and steering imputs.
A vehicle's suspension is the system that connects the car to its wheels. The suspension absorbs bumps and vibrations and keeps the vehicle's wheels in contact with the ground. A vehicle's steering is the system that turns the vehicle's wheels.
Oversteering is when a vehicle's rear wheels lose traction before the front wheels. It can cause the car to spin out of control. Oversteering is more common in rear-wheel-drive vehicles and vehicles with more power than grip.
Avoid oversteering by being aware of the conditions that can lead to it. These include driving accelerating too quickly out of a corner, making sudden or sharp inputs int the steering wheel, or driving on a slippery surface. If you are about to oversteer, the best solution is to lift off the accelerator and keep steering in the direction you want to travel. If applied early enough this can stop you from spinning. If applied too late, get ready for a ride.
Understeering is a common problem that can occur while driving. It happens when the front wheels of a vehicle lose traction, causing the car to go straight even when the steering wheel is turned. But there are a few things that you can do to avoid understeering.
Try to straighten out the steering wheels a bit. Some time the steering angle is too great for the levels of grip available. If that doesn't work, apply the brake. This will transfer more weight on the the front tires. It should help to regain traction and get your vehicle back under control.
5. Sudden Stops
Historically sudden stops use to be a lot more dangerous as the steering wheels could lock and stop turning. Removing your abiltiy to turn or control the direction of the car. Modern cars all have ABS (Automatic Braking systems) that pulses the brakes on and off when you brake really hard. The ABS does not allow the wheels to completely stop turning, maintaining your directional control of the car.
It's essential to be aware of your surroundings and to brake early and smoothly when possible. Sudden stops should only be made when necessary, such as when avoiding an obstacle or another vehicle. If you must make a sudden stop, stay in your lane and keep your vehicle under control.
Track driving is different from typical driving. However, it follows the same safety precautions linked to weight transfer. Therefore, beginner drivers on the track road should remember the safety basics to keep safe on the road.
GT Race Experiences offers a race track driving experience to wannabe drivers in Vancouver. But more than the exhilarating feeling, we value our guests and their safety the entire time they are with us. Jump into the driver’s seat, start your engines, and book a schedule on our website today.