Tips, Tricks & Trends

What Is Snap Oversteer and Why Is it Dangerous?

Have you ever wanted a mid-engine, rear-drive car like a Toyota MR2 or a Honda S2000? If so, then you’ve probably done your research as far as the current market pricing of the car, its specs, and maybe even some worthwhile modifications you would do in the future. During your research about either car, you also probably had a crash course in a term called “snap oversteer.” But what is it and why is it dangerous?

What is “snap oversteer?”

“Snap oversteer” happens when you drive into a corner fast and lift off the accelerator in the middle of the turn, causing the rear-end to step out in a “snappy” manner, which makes the car oversteer and possibly spin out and crash. This event typically happens when you’re driving at high speeds on the road or on the track.

Also, certain cars, like the aforementioned MR2 and S2000, are more prone to snap oversteer due to their mid-engine, rear-drive configurations that are sensitive to driver inputs and have suspension geometries that tend to cause oversteer from the factory.

A black Porsche Taycan drifts on wet pavement
Porsche Taycan | Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche A

What causes snap oversteer?

While those small sports cars are prone to oversteering from the get-go, experiencing snap oversteer is mainly due to driver error. After all, cars don’t go fast and brake quickly by themselves, so by maintaining your composure, you can prevent the car from oversteering. As such, here are the four causes of snap oversteer that you should avoid.

Entering a corner too fast

This one is easily preventable when driving on the street, however, when driving on a track, it can be tough to remember since slowing down isn’t your main priority, except when it is, especially in a rear-wheel-drive car. Most RWD sports cars today are built with plenty of grip in the front tires while delivering power to the rear tires.

As you can guess, that’s a recipe for oversteer if you were to enter a corner too quickly, which could cause the rear-end of the car to swing out and oversteer the car. The best course of action if you’re on a race track is to drive slower and carefully for the first few laps and gradually increase your speed as you get used to it. And if you’re driving on the street, then slow down.

Accelerating through a corner too quickly

As if entering a corner at the right speed isn’t challenging enough, the risk of oversteer doesn’t stop there. If you happen to accelerate in the corner at the wrong time, the rear wheels could end up losing traction and cause the car to oversteer. The best thing to do in that situation is to gently lift off the throttle so the rear tires can regain traction.

A photo of the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S utilizing its drift mode on track.
Mercedes-AMG A 45 S With Drift Mode | Mercedes-AMG

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Lifting off the throttle mid-corner

Driving fast on a track can give you a quick lesson in weight transfer, which is how the car’s weight shifts fore and aft and side-to-side depending on your steering, braking, and throttle inputs. That being said, it is possible to oversteer the car if you lift your foot off of the accelerator mid-corner, the weight of the car can rapidly shift to the front causing the rear tires to lift up and lose traction.

Braking through a corner

Lastly, snap oversteer is caused when you brake while in a corner since braking will shift the weight of the car forward and cause the rear-end to lose traction.

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How do you combat snap oversteer?

In the case that you do experience snap oversteer, your best course of action would be to turn into the skid, or turn the steering wheel in the direction that rear wheels are skidding out to. But you will need to apply the right amount of angle to the steering wheel as too much or too little can have a completely adverse effect and cause the car to spin out.

 If you keep your eyes on the road and maintain the direction that the front of the car is going, then you’ll be able to correct snap oversteer. In order to prevent oversteer altogether, it’s important to take caution when cornering and practicing correcting the oversteer.