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Tires and Cornering


To fully understand what the wheels and tires go through when driving, you must learn about the principles of your vehicle?s suspension. When cornering, several forces you learned in physics class act on the vehicle as it turns and changes direction, which in turn, puts the tires under excessive stress and force. Below is a list of concepts you should be aware of that your vehicle goes through during a turn.

The centrifugal force pulls your vehicle toward the outside of the turn. This requires that an opposing and equal force counter it to ensure you corner safely and correctly. That opposing force is generated by the gripping power of the tires, which is known as cornering force.

This is the frictional force generated by the cornering tires. It counters the centrifugal force listed above. The tire force is generated by tire slip, and when it comes to cornering, the slip angle is proportional to the tire force.

Slip angle is the deformation of the tire contact patch; the deflection of the patch deforms the tire. It is measured in how much the patch has been distorted in relation to the wheel during cornering. The cornering force increases in proportion to the occurrence and leads to the increase in the slip angle. Under normal driving conditions, you?ll find that the slip angle ranges from approximately 2 to 5 degrees with a maximum of 10 degrees.

This is the torque that occurs at the contact patch of the tires due to the friction involved in cornering. This will provide a major impact on the tire contact patch.

This is the rate at which the cornering force increases as the slip angle increases. This is what determines driver handling, the higher cornering power, the higher cornering ability and stability of the vehicle.

There are three key things to remember in terms of corning that apply across the board no matter the vehicle or the tire being used. First, remember that wet Surfaces decrease the friction which reduces the overall cornering force. Second, as the load increases, the cornering force also increases. You will experience a gradual decline in force should the load exceed the recommended value for the tire. Finally, tire stiffness increases the cornering power. This is seen with ?low profile? tire applications. The lower the profile the stiffer the sidewall can be, resulting in cornering power.

Steering is the key element which guides your vehicle through turns. Its characteristics depend on the load distribution on the front and rear axles, as well as the cornering power of the tires. Here are the three biggest characteristics.

This occurs during a turn and the rear tires lose traction. This leads to the rear of the vehicle to head towards the outside corner. Rear-wheel-drive vehicles are most prone to oversteer, especially through tight cornering.

Understeer is a condition in which the circular path of the vehicle?s motion is of a larger diameter than what is indicated by the direction the wheels are pointing.

Neutral Steer
This is a cornering condition that the front and rear slip angles are the same. Though it seems as an ideal state of balance, this is not as stable as slight Understeer.

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