Factors that Affect Car Handling (and How You Can Improve Them)

January 27, 2012

There are so many factors that can affect your car handling. Car handling is the way that your car performs on the road, as well as how they handle curves and swerving. A car must be excellent at handling, or else you may lose control. This can happen for an abundance of reasons, and here are some of the bigger ones.

1. Suspension

The suspension is important to make sure your tires stay down on the ground at all times. Even if you go over a bump or something, the suspension should help the car stay on the road. You will not want to run out of what is called "suspension travel," which is the distance between the top and bottom of the suspension. You want to keep this space at its recommended height, or else you can have handling problems.

2. Tires

Having the right tires on your car can increase handling. Most of the standard tires that come with cars are not large and soft, which are ideal for improved handling. High performance tires are what you will want to buy if you want to increase handling. Make sure there is tread on your tires because less tread will mean less traction, which decreases handling.

3. Shock Absorbers

Shock absorbers absorb energy that your car causes while it is in motion. If the shock absorbers don't do their job, then there will be a higher unsprung weight. This is not good for road handling. Make sure your shock absorbers work, and replace them if need be. 

4. Aerodynamics

Without starting a physics lesson, aerodynamics can affect your car's handling. The faster your car goes, the more downward force it creates. Cars use this force to increase handling. This is especially important going around turns. There are only a few ways to make your car more aerodynamic. You can add spoilers to the car, take off the roof rack (or other racks on top) or also decrease the weight of the car by taking unnecessary things out of the trunk.

5. ESC

ESC is a relatively new technology that has been a great help to car handling. ESC stands for Electronic Stability Control, and is a requirement by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for cars that wish to be named a "Top Safety Pick." Statistics show that ESC on cars have reduced the amount of fatal accidents by one third. ESC helps you steer the car in the event of a skid (or even before a skid occurs). The system automatically applies the brakes in an effort to make the car stay on the road.

6. External Forces

External forces also can affect the handling of your car. One of them is the weather outside. When it rains or snows, it creates a slippery surface, and this can really make the roads dangerous. Depending on what type of tires you have, it can be the difference between good and bad handling. For example, having snow tires will increase your traction during a snowstorm. You can combat these forces by either avoiding them, or putting on the proper tires dependent on the conditions that are occurring. 

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