Neutral Steer

Neutral Steer

In this video I explain a widely misunderstood concept: neutral steer. Most people think a neutrally balanced car tracks with a zero degree yaw angle, and I’m going to set them all straight.

Video Transcript

Hey everybody, Matt Covert here again from and now we’re going to talk about neutral steer. We’ve already been through understeer, oversteer, and their technical definitions which kind of go way beyond the normal definitions you’ll find in the motorsport world. So we’re going to do the same thing for neutral steer. And this one’s very important because when you understand how neutral steer actually works it’ll probably change the way you think about setting up your car and finding that balance. OK? So let’s hop right in.

I showed you this diagram in the last two videos, over and under steer. Don’t freak out, really not that big a deal. I am going to take you through this diagram real quick before we jump in again OK?

So this line that goes all the way through, curving line, is just the direction the vehicle is going to be traveling through the corner. No big deal, we can ignore that for the most part, it’s just there for reference. OK? You’ve seen front slip angle before. It is the difference between where the vehicle is pointed and where where the tire or wheel is pointed. The difference is simply the slip angle in the front.

OK? This is the center chassis line and it represents the direction the vehicle is pointed and this is the intersecting line which shows which direction the vehicle is actually traveling. And the difference between those two is the yaw angle, we saw that as well. Not a big deal.

And then finally the rear slip angle, much like the front is the difference between where the wheel is pointed and direction the wheel is

So let’s apply this to neutral steer, or a neutral handling car, one of the two. There we go. Let me just apply some values to these angles. Let’s say we have a ten degree angle, an eight degree angle, and ten angle. OK?

Most people make the mistake of assuming that a neutral handling car has a zero degree yaw angle. They think that a perfectly balanced car is simply going to track front and rear in the same place without any yaw angle at all. Well that is just not the case, OK? And I’m going to show you why.

The technical definition of a neutral steering car is when the front slip angle and rear slip angle are equal. OK? This vehicle is producing the maximum amount of grip in both the front and the rear. OK? But you have to note that while this is happening there is a significant yaw angle. OK? The vehicle is not tracking perfectly, alright? And here’s why.

When most people think of a slip angle they think of the front end where the front wheels are always turning and creating new angles and all that etcetera, OK? Well for a vehicle to produce maximum amount of grip it also has to have optimal slip angles in the rear of the car. And since this rear wheel doesn’t turn, the only way for this tire to slip across the surface at optimum angle is to be in a yaw angle. OK? This car is oversteering slightly. I shouldn’t say, it’s not oversteering slightly. OK? It’s in neutral steer. But the rear end is slid out a little bit and that’s what most people call oversteer but it’s not and that’s the difference.

OK? The only way for rear end to have maximum grip is for it to be sliding across the surface and that’s where the yaw angle comes in. And this is really important to understand because when you realize a neutral steering car actually has the rear end out just a little bit it’s going to change how you want the car to set up. If you go for the zero yaw angle you’re probably just going to be understeering all the time and that’s not what you want.

And you’ll be able to feel that. I did this in the 2015 season and I used this concept and I realized that I needed some extra yaw angle and it really did increase the rear end grip, even though the rear end of the car was slid out to the side during most corners. And it worked really well for me, I found some parts that tightened up the rear end and brought the car right into it’s sweet spot and I love it. And I encourage you to do the same thing. OK?

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