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Can Taking Your Foot Off The Gas When Cornering Cause You To Wreck?

Is it really possible that simply lifting your foot off the throttle can cause the back end of your car to spin out? The short answer: In certain conditions… Yes!

How could any teenage boy resist going into a corner at high-speed? If you are like most of us, our first car isn’t a rear-wheel drive sports car, but a hand-me-down front-wheel drive hatchback. Parents think they are safe because while front-wheel drive cars typically suffer from understeer and are difficult to oversteer. So getting a call from the Rozzer’s at 3 am because your teenage son was caught tail-wagging the hatchback around a corner to impress his girlfriend, generally isn’t a problem. But, hatchbacks are also heavy in the front and light in the back end…

Lift-off Oversteer via Fiona sng

So what happens when the teenage boy is driving his mate in the hatchback and hits the corner a little too fast, realizes that the car is understeering and simply takes his foot rapidly off the gas? Could this really spell disaster? Isn’t taking your foot off the gas that what you’re supposed to do?

Actually, if you understand lift-off oversteer, you will see that a gradual deceleration is the correct thing to do. Here is Chris Harris of Top Gear fame speaking on Drivers Republic explaining the phenomenon.

Here is an excellent video showing you exactly what teenage boys, a wet corner, and a hatchback can do. Parents with teenage boys need not watch:

Oversteer is when a car turns more than you want it too and can be easily seen when the back end of a car “kicks out”. Drifting is an example of extreme powered oversteer. Lift-off oversteer typically happens when a car that is actively cornering suddenly decelerates, throwing the weight of the car towards the front, thereby allowing the rear wheels to “lift off” the ground, thus throwing the back end of the car out (sliding). In other words, lift-off oversteer is an oversteer condition caused by the back wheels lifting off the ground. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lift-off_oversteer

Lift-off oversteer can happen with nearly any kind of vehicle whether they are front-wheel or a rear-wheel drive. So how do you prevent your teenage kids from crashing into the first guard rail that comes along? There are various suspension enhancements from multi-link suspension to sway bars can help reduce lift-off oversteer. Of course in cars produced after 2012, government mandated electronic stability control works extremely well at preventing lift-off oversteer. Alternatively, you could just take him or her to your local racetrack, sign up for a lesson, and get them properly trained on such things!

Keep driving my friends!

Written by David Stockin

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