Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Pat L
Did anyone else read the letter in today's Sunday Telegraph which blames manufacturers for sacrificing safety/stability of cars by introducing fwd as a cost-cutting exercise? I'm not sure I fully understand the thrust of the argument but it seems to hinge upon the fact that fwd cars are harder to control in emergency situations due to the steering being adversely affected by collisions.

Any thoughts?

Pat
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Marcos{P}
If the car has front wheel drive or rear wheel drive a collision will affect the steering in a very similar way on both. I do find that the average motorist has no idea about car control whatsoever and under these circumstances front wheel drive would be safer.
A classic example of this is a case where my wife worked.
All the reps used to drive around in mondeos and lagunas but when they changed their entire fleet to BMW 3 Series and Merc C-Class's 4 reps died through losing control of their cars.
Personally I hate front wheel drive and find it very restricting but the average motorist is unfortunately an idiot.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Pugugly {P}
There are some fine handling fwds that handle as well as rwd applications in certain German cars. I would imagine that inept driving cause more accidents than inept choice of the driven wheel.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Andrew-T
I feel that your preference for rear-wheel drive is slim justification for calling the average motorist an idiot. Sounds like exaggerated superiority to me.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Tom Shaw
Marcos,

Who exactly was it that decided you were an above average motorist yourself?

I think we should be told.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Aprilia
"All the reps used to drive around in mondeos and lagunas but when they changed their entire fleet to BMW 3 Series and Merc C-Class's 4 reps died through losing control of their cars."

Sounds a pretty good argument in favour of FWD to me!


"Marcos,

Who exactly was it that decided you were an above average motorist yourself?"

He did of course, he drives a Mercedes-Benz! ;-)

Seriously though, there are good and bad handling cars in both FWD and RWD. To get yourself into serious trouble in any modern car means you are driving badly/inappropriately/inattentively.


Aprilia (Fellow MB owner)
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - bafta
Aprilia, for your information, I have seen more BMWs parked on their roofs than any other make during conditions of ice and snow. Is this the fault of RWD cars with no weight over the back wheels, do you think, or just due to the fools who drive them too fast? Having driven both I would contend that in those conditions FWD is safer. I owned a Skyline and, on ice, it was lethal.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Blue {P}
Aprilia, for your information, I have seen more BMWs parked on
their roofs than any other make during conditions of ice and
snow. Is this the fault of RWD cars with no weight
over the back wheels, do you think, or just due to
the fools who drive them too fast? Having driven both I
would contend that in those conditions FWD is safer. I owned
a Skyline and, on ice, it was lethal.


Think you'll find that it's down to their wide tyres mainly, coupled with been rear wheel drive.

I have been warned that I am going to have a hell of a time in the Winter with my new Fiesta, it has 15" alloys which look very wide. I'll get back to you with their proper size later... but suffice to say that a mate of a mate couldn't drive their MK6 Fiesta in snow due to the wide wheels, these are what are fitted to the BMWs etc.

Blue
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Altea Ego
Blue, Dont know where you live, but given the average number of days per year we get snow that lays ont he ground for more than 5 minutes, I dont think this will be a huge problem.

Even given if you live in a snowy area on a hill, whats a few days off work?

As long as your tyres can cope with very wet roads enjoy.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Marcos{P}
I'm sorry. Did I say I was an above average motorist? No.

My point was that fwd is safer and far more forgiving for the average motorist than a rwd setup. Given the choice I would always go for rwd as I'm used to driving rwd and 4wd rally cars and not fwd.
I still stick with my point that a good majority of drivers on our roads are complete idiots when faced with a potential crash situation.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Andrew-T
Ah now, Marcos, that is a different proposition. You probably mean that the average motorist just doesn't have enough rally experience to cope with a potential crash situation. That does not make him/her an idiot either - and it still sounds like exaggerated superiority.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - CM
I've had 1 FWD and 3 RWD and also prefer RWD but don't quite get you when you say FWD is dangerous.

I can't see how driving rally cars relates to driving road based FWDs
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Marcos{P}
Andrew,

What you are saying is that most motorist's when faced with a diesel spill etc. will take all the necessary actions in that fraction of a second as the car begins to lose control.
You drive a fwd car and you push it on a bend and what happens? The front drifts and if your unlucky the back will twitch when you lift off. What happens in the same situation in a rwd? The front drifts slightly but the back will whip round and spin you into the nearest hard object.
fwd was developed to cut costs but was later found to be a much safer drive system for the average motorist.
Maybe the majority of people like to drive like this with their blinkers on in the hope that they will never get into a situation like that but it can happen to us all and I'm glad I'm prepared.
If that is exaggerated superiority then so be it.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - J Bonington Jagworth
"..steering being adversely affected by collisions."

I should have thought that most steering was adversely affected by a collision! Is the author suggesting that how the car behaves after a collision is significant? Perhaps he's been watching too many of those American films where the car encounters direct hits from pursuing vehicles and small arms, drives over a couple of fields and through a wooden building, manages to jump over a small river (or possibly through it) and at the end of the journey, with tyres and windscreen still magically intact, the doors still work!
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Altea Ego
Gosh what a fertile thread. Firstly who said front wheel drive was developed to cut cost? is this true? I thought it was more expensive to produce. Wasnt the prime driver for front wheel drive interior space over a given wheel base?

Secondly there is no dispute that front wheel drive is safer and more forgiving in overspeed out of control situations (thats going to fast round bends in real speak) for all motorists not just average or stupid ones.

And as has been pointed out, damaged steering is damaged steering whatever wheel is being driven. The original article as described is pure carp.

As for being a better driver, anyone who thinks they are automatically becomes suspect in my book. Sure you may have had experiences others havent (like rally driving - I have, or off roading - I have, or racing cars - i have) but as soon as you start to think you are beter than others, you are ripe for a fall - I mean there are 19.99 million other crap drivers out there and one of them is bound to get you - you are outnumbered!

Thats my two pence worth
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - PhilW
The guy who stated in the Telegraph that RWD was inherently safer than rear wheel drive quoted several examples "have you ever seen a front wheel drive bicycle, a rocket with the jet on the front, a speedboat with the propellor at the front" or words to that effect.
But was he putting the cart before the horse?
And actually I think the penny f***hing had "front wheel drive" and the reason you don't put the jet on the front of rocket is obvious, as is the speedboat thing. Anyway, no doubt we could all quote examples. Did Spitfires have the prop at the back? Ever seen huskies pushing a sledge? Why do artics have the tractor unit at the front? Why don't the AA have push trucks instead of tow trucks? What about drive from the "middle" as on many aircraft (engines on wings) - is that "inherently more safe"
He was talking carp - as is Marcos.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - DavidHM
I'm just going to side with Marcos slightly on this one.

From what I can make out, Marcos has experiences that most motoroists don't have, including myself. Having those experiences probably makes him a better than average driver, but that's not his main point.

I think it is that his experiences are with rwd and 4wd cars, so that is what he would know most about controlling at the limit. This makes him different from average - and I think it is fair to say that a lot of drivers, maybe including me, wouldn't know what to do in a sticky situation. Idiot is too harsh but they would probably be no better than a bit of rope and a plank of wood at controlling the car.

I also think that FWD is better for most people as understeer is nothing if not predictable. In that sense, the article as described is complete and utter koi.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Blue {P}
You can't predict how you will react in an emergency.

I know a woman who managed to do some impressive cadence braking and swerving into the central reservation to avoid stationary traffic, she managed to get away with no impact at all, but was obviously shaken.

When I found myself in the same situation I just kept stamped on the brake and watched the traffic getting closer, and I consider myself a fairly switched on driver, for someone of my age.

However, I can say that the expereience taught me well and I always look further ahead, and haven't repeated it! I also think I would actually be able to do something next time rather than sit and watch an accident unfolding.

(I somehow stopped just short of the traffic BTW)

Blue
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Flat in Fifth
I'm going to have to gravitate towards the unpopular corner with Marcos on this one.

Perhaps because of vaguely similar experience. Plus I absolutely refuse to claim any degree of superiority, be ever so 'umble yer worship.

The key issue for me is that fwd is inherently more stable, however when it does all go pear shaped you might have to react on the gas pedal in two completely different ways depending upon what has happened, whereas with a rwd car generally its always lift off. Very very broadly speaking that is.

Front wheel skid usually caused by excess speed, surface change maybe coarse steering input, amongst all the other things remedy includes lifting off the gas. Same applies in a rwd vehicle.

Now if you get a rear wheel skid in a rwd vehicle again the correct approach is to lift off or at least control the power output to an acceptable level.

But if in fwd vehicle the LAST thing you want to do is lift off the gas in a rear wheel skid it just makes things worse.

Basically one needs to plant it so the driven wheels pull the back in line. This advice is, as you might expect, comes with all sorts of caveats.

So in this admittedly extreme case a fwd vehicle could be more unstable than a rwd, just that most are not, and if they are very few drivers get to drive them at the edges of the envelope which can cause this condition.

Bit chilly in this corner, dontcha reckon Marcos?
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Marcos{P}
I feel cold and isolated. Sniff Sniff!
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Altea Ego
The problem is that most modern car handling is very good. FWD or RWD. That being so, very few people get to push the car outside its handling envelope, and to be fair nor should they on public roads. So when road conditions lower that envelope, or situation forces driver outside the envelope they never get to feel how a given car will react when it looses grip.


I for one, given the chance (nice empty wet or icy car park, or nice flat grassy field) test any new cars i get to see where the envelope is, how it reacts and whats best to keep it in order. Hopefully therefore if it ever gets out of shape, I wont be caught napping not knowing what to do.

In summary tho, tho they react differently at the limit, you cant say that generally FWD is less safe than RWD, but stepping over the limit in RWD is generally more spectacular! (=Fun?)


Front wheel drive is dangerous! - bafta
Furthermore, why are trains more likely to become derailed when they are 'pushing' the carriages and why do the rail companies keep quiet about this when they do come off? 'Cos it saves them money (not having to change engines or turn it round at the terminal). Have you ever tried to push a piece of rope along the ground? I didn't see the article but it sounds carp to me too!
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Technoprat {P}
Furthermore, why are trains more likely to become derailed when they
are 'pushing' the carriages and why do the rail companies keep
quiet about this when they do come off? 'Cos it saves
them money (not having to change engines or turn it round
at the terminal). Have you ever tried to push a piece
of rope along the ground? I didn't see the article but
it sounds carp to me too!



A locomotive pulling carriages actually exerts a downward force on the carriage but when pushing exerts a slight upward force so that the pushed carriage is slightly less sticky on the track. Don't know if this is true with cars but I do notice that when starting off in a rwd the nose lifts slightly while in a fwd it drops a tad.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Mark (RLBS)
>>"have you ever seen a front wheel drive bicycle, a rocket with the jet on the front, a speedboat with the propellor at the front"

Or an aeroplane with the propellor on the front............
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - THe Growler
Unless I am mistaken it is more or less true to say that FWD only seriously appeared in the mass automotive market with the Mini in 1959.

Anyone and everyone brought up on RWD was instantly impressed by the manoevrability, confidence-giving driving experience and surefootedness of the Mini. Anyone of university years in that era will recall doing mad daft things in Minis which would have your Ford Popular decorating the rest of the street furniture. It was but a step to the enormous rally success of the car with Paddy Hopkirk and his ilk. Incidentally Minis did damn well on snow as well, as I can attest to on lots of occasions.

My shop foreman remarked to me "Blimey, even modern yoof like you can be a good driver in one of these fings".

Not all car design favours FWD for all purposes, hence RWD still lives. But to generalise that FWD is dangerous is piffle.
No one's mentioned engine in the back AND RWD by the way (Porsche et al) unless I missed it. That config presents a number of interesting surprised for the unwary.

When all is said and done the only wheel that over-archingly determines the outcome of driver input is the one in front of the driver.

Front wheel drive is dangerous! - DavidHM
If you were French, you would point to the Citroën Traction Avant of 1934... the very name means front wheel drive. There's also the 2CV and the DS - both wacky, but mass market cars in France. In the UK, they were hardly mainstream, even compared to something as 'radical' as a Ford Zodiac.

However, I suspect that G disapproves of Frenchness so I'll leave it at that. (And apologise in advance if this now turns into a pro and anti-Citroën thread).
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Altea Ego
You are on safe ground there DHM. G approves of the traction avant, french or not.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - THe Growler
You are correct but I was thinking of the UK market, where very few of those Traction Avants ever saw the light of day IIRC and were regarded as questionable oddities at best.

So I still maintain FWD arrived in the mass public motoring consciousness via the 850 Minis.

The Gallic curse on les Rosbifs was alive and well at that time however, when it visited upon us the noxious Renault Dauphine, the rickety Simca Aronde and the unspeakable Caravelle, the former and the latter having bags of nails in the back which passed for engines, if you could ever get them to run. Rear engine and RWD.

As if that were not enough, the R1100 transported us (inapt use of verb) to a level where simple mediocrity gave way to automotive engineering catastrophe rendered into an art form. You couldn't get a garage to touch 'em where I lived.

Not to mention the silver paper in my Senior Service fag packet was not a lot thinner than the body panels but at least that didn't rot.


Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Aprilia
Which was the one with the 'push button' automatic transmission? I remember being given a lift in a French car like that in the mid-late 1960's. The engine was at the back, I think, and the gear selector was a set of white buttons in the middle of the dash.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - peterb
A key issue that no one has mentioned before is that many drivers *don't know* whether they have a RWD or FWD car and certainly don't understand some of the key differences of handling.

Fact is: cars are unsafe if driven stupidly. For example, RWD isn't great if you exit a wet roundabout too fast - Jason Barlow was honest enough to admit to totalling a 325i that way recently.

Peter

PS RWD cars are best left in the garage when it snows!
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Steve S
Many of the virtues and vices of both FWD and RWD are covered neatly here.

But FWD dangerous? I don't think so. Whatever the level of experience more people are caught out by snap oversteer than by losing the front.

Besides, the instinct to lift off the throttle even if you know better is hard to suppress in an emergency.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Phil I
Had a 1964 Renault 8 bought for £25 in 1972 which had this electric change mechanism ,small panel with four buttons. Had
what must have been forerunner of ecu under the front boot lid.
Ran it for two years till one day it refused to do anything except drive in reverse. Could not find anyone brave enough to even try to rectify it so off to the scrapman it went. I liked this motor and never used to lock it up when parked anywhere. No one would even think of stealing it.

Happy Motoring Phil I
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Baskerville
Didn't SAAB come up with FWD some time in the 1950s to make driving on snow safer? Or was it earlier than that? Anyway the Mini was nowhere near as revolutionary as we Brits like to think. It was just small and cheap.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Altea Ego
Can anyone with knowledge answer my original query? Does it cost more to develop and make a FWD car?
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Phil I
Memory a fickle jade at best tells me that part of the problem producing Issigoni Mini was the CV joint finally sourced from Hardy Spicer. Cyd probably knows the full history of this episode.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Mark (RLBS)
As I recall it is more expensive to make fwd rather than rwd car if you compare otherwise identical cars.

However, if you wanted to make a rwd car with comparable inside space to that of a fwd car it would be more expensive.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Garethj
Can anyone with knowledge answer my original query? Does it
cost more to develop and make a FWD car?


I think development costs are pretty similar, with the millions of dollars spent in R&D, the drivetrain costs are lost in the noise compared to engine, body, trim, safety etc.

FWD (and rear / mid engine, rwd) does without the propshaft, I\'d have thought that makes front engine-rwd more expensive.

There\'s not really a like for like case though, Triumph Toledo excepted!

Gareth
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - superannuated rocker
I don't know whether it is more expensive, starting with a clean sheet of paper to make a FWD OR RWD car but I would imagine there is not a lot in it. The FWD allows better passenger space (No Propshaft intrusion)and possibly lower noise levels (less vibration with shorter driveshafts), better traction etc and I suppose there may even be an argument that it gives better braking as the front tyres have greater adhesive weight. To say it is more dangerous is ridiculous, to echo the comments above anyone who had a train set knows how much more stable a train is when being pulled rather than pushed.
I do remember reading comments back in 1982 when the Sierra was launched and it was considered very old fashioned because it was still RWD. At the time it was said that Ford were short of money because of poor American results and could not afford to develop a FWD car
SR
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - v8man
To say FWD is dangerous is uninformed rubbish. The main problem with FWD has more to do with the conflicting physics of the set up. Trying to steer the driven wheels is difficult and the result is torque steer. FWD cars suffer from power understeer - the car is trying to push in a straight line while the tyres are grimly attempting to go left or right. The reason BMW persist with RWD is to balance the weight of the car as close to 50:50 as possible. I do prefer RWD but this is driving preference because I quite enjoy hanging the rear out! MY current car however is FWD. So ther you go.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Pugugly {P}
Well said v8....I can't resist disengaging as many driver aids as possible and occasinally letting it all hang out.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Marcos{P}
Pugugly

You really should be trying to set an example and not admiting to driving like a lunatic like the rest of us.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - PhilW
Let's be honest - anyone who grew up in the '60s and experienced the handling characteristics of Austin A40s, A50s, Morris Oxfords, Riley 4/68s, Sunbeam Talbots, Renault Dauphine Gordinis etc, where going through a hedge backwards was an everyday occurrence (roads in N Yorkshire didn't have any cars on them then!) was astonished by the safe handling of Minis, Triumph 1300s, Morris 1100s and other front wheel drive cars. Yes there was not the excitement of the tail hanging out, and that elusive "4 wheel drift" was unattainable but for the vast majority there was the compensation that you didn't have to explain to your dad why his car was in a field somewhere with a very damaged rear end. And the same applies today. RWD is great for those who can handle it but I suspect that that is considerably fewer than those who THINK they can handle it. Just look at those BMs and MBs that have trouble in the snow/ice
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - bafta
PhilW. That's pretty much what I was trying to say, in a roundabout way. Some of those old cars were mares really, but we knew no better. I did several 360's in the old days.I remember an incident when my insurance company were very interested to know how I had managed to dent every wing, since nobody else was involved.
Thankfully, the roads were less crowded then so I am glad that the more 'forgiving' FWD cars are popular now. I have to admit that they do 'drive themselves' a bit and take some of the challenge out of motoring.
Growler mentioned the Beetle with its rear engine and drive.I used to enjoy watching them pirouetting around in winter but I never used to come up too close at a roundabout.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Ben {P}
I think there are some incorrect generalisations being made in this thread. The first is all front wheel drive cars understeer (or are inclined to) I do not agree. A front or rear wheel drive car can be set up to oversteer. What is different about the two setups is how the driving power effects the handling.

If a car is travelling around a corner in a steady state condition (ie not accelerating or decellerating) the handling balance will largely be influenced by the chassis, and the wieght distribution. If in this condition, cornering at a speed where one tyre is at the highest point on the grip curve, they car will respond differently to an increase in power depending upon whether the car is rear wheel drive or front. But how this effects it is not as clear cut as one might think, and will largely be dependant upon the wieght distribution, and general handling characteristics. But one must remeber it will be the drive who has put himself in such a position.

Whether one trails the brake into a corner or not, and the time taken between blending brake into throttle mid corner will all effect whether a vehichle understeers in a given situation.

Giving too much throttle out of a corner in rear wheel drive will obviously increase the tendancy for oversteer, whereas visa versa will be true in a front wheel drive car. But how each car recovers from each condition will be strongly influenced by the car not just the drive type. If either drive system is too be deemed dangererous should we not all drive cars on high profile skinny tyres since they will not loose grip as suddenly as sportier modles?
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - TrevP
"Whether one trails the brake into a corner or not, and the time taken between blending brake into throttle mid corner will all effect whether a vehichle understeers in a given situation."

I believe everyone else was discussing road driving, NOT rallying techniques.

The previous generalisations were correct. All FWD will inherently understeer.
They can of course be made to do other things - by means of handbrake turns, etc., - but such has no place in in discussion of safety.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - chris2
props at the front - I was always taught this was a packaging compromise and not good areodynamically. basically trying to get weight lift point- thus giving inherently stable glider - i.e flies when engines fail.

If you look at the first flying wing the props were at the back and gave laminar flow over the whole wing - very efficient
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - J Bonington Jagworth
I know this is an old topic revisited, but you don't see too many FWD F1 cars...

I always thought it was done nowadays for ease of manufacture, as the assembled power train goes in as a complete lump.

BTW, I concur with Chris2's comment. I fly model planes, where 'pushers' are very popular and have good flying characteristics.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Altea Ego
I know this is an old topic revisited, but you don't
see too many FWD F1 cars...


With the engine in the back, to drive the front wheels the prop shaft would have to go through the driver!!! Being serious the F1 car design is the pinicle of performance, packaging and handling, so it proves rear wheel drive/rear engine is the ultimate for speed, but it also requires very very very good drivers to keep it on the track at the limit. In fact for average drivers its dangerous! (ala porsche - only driver aids stop idiots killing themselves in that!)


I always thought it was done nowadays for ease of manufacture,
as the assembled power train goes in as a complete lump.


Good point, makes sense, I have seen complete suspension, powertrain & engine being lifted into cars on the line - very quick operation.

BTW, I concur with Chris2's comment. I fly model planes, where
'pushers' are very popular and have good flying characteristics.


Ahhh much debate for nearly a century on this now. many pros and cons either way. If I recall correctly the deciding factor for props at the front was cooling air through the engine on the ground, and propelors are more efficient at the front, tho they do hamper wing aerodymanics.



Front wheel drive is dangerous! - DavidHM
What about cars like the Saxo VTS, trouble with the 'drive it like you stole it crowd' who, if they get into trouble might easily panic and lift off the accelerator quickly in a bend. This would put it sideways (if not actually backwards?) into the hedge, if they're lucky and get away with a soft landing.

Having said that, unless the handling is set up specifically to let you get the car sideways, understeer is the norm on fwd cars and is what most people would be faced with at the limit and probably a useful assumption if we're discussing safety.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Tony N
Don't forget that a rwd car can suffer from lift-off over-steer too, generally power over-steer will occur first if enough power is being applied but it can still happen if enough speed is carried into a turn. Its not as simple as rwd = oversteer, fwd = understeer. There are plenty of rwd cars out there that will understeer for Britain!
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Alfafan {P}
Remember the Marina!
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Flat in Fifth
Don't forget that a rwd car can suffer from lift-off over-steer
too, generally power over-steer will occur first if enough power is
being applied but it can still happen if enough speed is
carried into a turn. Its not as simple as rwd =
oversteer, fwd = understeer. There are plenty of rwd cars out
there that will understeer for Britain!


Quite true Tony! I used to compete against one driver who deliberately used to set up his Escort to understeer on the basis that this is a more stable condition.

He then mainly used to use the brakes in order to deliberately unbalance the car to get it sideways into corners, but was not then fighting to stop it going more sideways because of the basic setup.

He was just a shade quick[1] in case you wondered.

[1] Understatement of the century. No names but you will have heard of him even if you don't follow rallying.

Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Ben {P}
"Whether one trails the brake into a corner or not, and
the time taken between blending brake into throttle mid corner will
all effect whether a vehichle understeers in a given situation."
I believe everyone else was discussing road driving, NOT rallying techniques.
The previous generalisations were correct. All FWD will inherently understeer.
They can of course be made to do other things -
by means of handbrake turns, etc., - but such has no
place in in discussion of safety.


But if you do not outgun the tyres in a corner, why should a front wheel drive car inherently understeer? It would be quite easy for anyone to take a front wheel dive car that understeers slightly, and fit a stiffer rear anti-roll bar and hey presto an oversteering car. Chassis engineers make decisions like how much anti-roll bar to use to tmake the car handle exactly as they please.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - THe Growler
>>a front wheel dive car that understeers slightly......

sounds like my Vauxhall Cresta with the knackered front shock absorbers and "guess what it's going to next" handling.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - TrevP
"But if you do not outgun the tyres in a corner, why should a front wheel drive car inherently understeer?"

Obviously correct - understeer being caused by front wheels losing grip. Be it by too much welly, diesel on road, or (horror of horrors) braking whilst cornering.

"It would be quite easy for anyone to take a front wheel dive car that understeers slightly, and fit a stiffer rear anti-roll bar and hey presto an oversteering car."

Why? Why make a car intrinsically less safe?

Unless you want to MAKE it unstable, as in rally car setups?

Again, I repeat, what has this to do with road driving?
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Ben {P}
"But if you do not outgun the tyres in a corner,
why should a front wheel drive car inherently understeer?"
Obviously correct - understeer being caused by front wheels losing grip.
Be it by too much welly, diesel on road, or (horror
of horrors) braking whilst cornering.

"It would be quite easy for anyone to take a front
wheel dive car that understeers slightly, and fit a stiffer rear
anti-roll bar and hey presto an oversteering car."
Why? Why make a car intrinsically less safe?



That is the whole point! The engineers have made a car understeer beceause that is what is desired, albeit front or rear wheel drive. We agree understeer is a situation where the slip angles of the front wheels exceed that of the rear. The fact that the front wheels are driven will only have an effect upon handling when the car reaches the limit of traction offered by its tyres.

It has everything to do with road driving.

Rear wheel drive is only of use to people who want to go fast and experience the handling rear wheel drive can provide. I thnk many manufacturers would be hesitant about going back to rear wheel drive because of its innefficiency over front wheel drive. Fuel economy would decrease.

I was jsut trying to say cars dont understeer just because they are front wheel drive, many other factors are at work. Front or reear wheel drive just changes the way the car behaves in response to throttle input as you appraoch the limit.
Unless you want to MAKE it unstable, as in rally car
setups?
Again, I repeat, what has this to do with road driving?
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - madf
hmm
well I\'ve driven a series of BMWs, Granadas,Volvos, Jags and Mercedes.. and Minis, Audis, Fiestas and Rover 800s.

Stoke on Trent - a city built on hills - i is impassable with RWD in snow. A 3 series BMW is a deathtrap with summer tyres fitted.. - winter tyres are a different thing.. but who fits them?
Stoke on Trent - a city built on hills - is impassable with FWD in snow. Because of all the RWD cars stuck !

In normal circumstances FWD is best for most average drivers.. me? RWD is great in normal weather.. and winter IF you winterise it..

I have had 3 spins in 38 years of driving: one in a Mercedes 260E, a BMW 3 series, a Ford Granada All in snow..and all rwd..

None in a an Austin A30 with winter tyres driving in Aberdeenshire with 6 foot snowdrifts when a student...(mind you it had no power.. but then it went through snowdrifts very well).

Food for thought..

madf
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Tom Shaw
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that under or oversteer was nothing to do with the tyres losing traction, but was caused by the wheel rim pushing outwards and taking a wider radius through a bend than the tyre and the tyre then creeping sideways to catch up, if you know whatI mean.
Known as the 'slip angle'

Isn't this why radials and cross plys could not be mixed on the same axle, because the more flexible sidewalls of the radial gave a greater slip angle than the cross ply?

But then I could be wrong. I quite often don't know what I'm talking about.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - M.M
You're right Tom. I've just put a set of tyres on my car that allow a greater "slip angle" than the previous set, this is felt in sensible driving and way before the situation you would call a skid.

The effect is to make the car understeer a little more to a normal driver in most conditions.

With respect to FIF and others it is a fact that FWD is far easier/safer for 99% of drivers 99% of the time. You only have to look at one of those police helicopter chase films and see a youngster in a 1300cc Astra holding off a powerful police traffic car for mile after mile of risky stunts.

If they were driving a RWD Escort from the 70s it would be facing the wrong way within minutes.

M.M
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Steve S
I think MM is absolutely right. There is no doubt that "joyriding" only really became trendy because the vast majority of the FWD cars have idiot proof handling.

The original Golf GTI's massive success had a lot to do with it being very well behaved under stress.

Those old Mexicos and Capris would have put a large number of joyriders (and bystanders?) in hospital or worse.
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Altea Ego
The original Golf GTI's massive success had a lot to do
with it being very well behaved under stress.


Just as well it was really, the brakes were frighteningly bad when you first used them in anger, ok when you got used to the lack of stopping power!

Those old Mexicos and Capris would have put a large number
of joyriders (and bystanders?) in hospital or worse.


specially the 3.0 capris - hairy or what, wedged one sideways under railway bridge once - the bridge was on a bend. Lesson 1 learned - it stays damper under bridges!
Front wheel drive is dangerous! - Garethj
No, slip angle is the difference between the direction that the tyre is pointing and the direction the car is travelling. If the sidewall of the tyre isn't stiff you can sometimes feel it distorting, but this isn't anything to do with understeer or oversteer.

Front tyres actually slip most of the time when cornering because that's how they produce the sideways force which steers the car. The slip angle is quite small in normal driving, 5 degrees or so and you can't really feel it, except for maybe a slight feel of the steering loading up? Wind on the steering a bit more and the slip angle increases, giving more grip and turning the car tighter. Of course there comes a point where you are at the optimum slip angle and from there on, the grip decreases, THAT's the point of understeer or oversteer when you feel that you can't catch it and more lock just doesn't help. Only less speed or a wider radius around the bend will bring it back.

Studies of different tyres show that crossplies (for the old fogies amongst us!) give quite an even level of grip versus slip angle, therefore the breakaway was always quite progressive. You never got much outright grip to start with and it fell away smoothly when it started to slide. Radial tyres give much more grip but tend to be a bit harsher when they give way, better driver ability is needed to balance the car on the point of sliding but most drivers can zip around in the safe zone for years. The gods of speed who drive racing cars on slick tyres have an even tougher time because they grip and grip and grip and suddenly let go, incredible levels of driver sensitivity are required to drive on the limit of adhesion but not pushing it over the edge.

Above is fact, my opinion is that some cars are fun to drive, safe to drive and a joy to barrel through the bends in. I've had the pleasure of seeing this in both front and rear wheel drive cars but also the misery of driving front and rear wheel drive cars which were awful! If getting a good driving experience was simple, all manufacturers would do the same, I'm happy that they have to keep trying to get it right.

Gareth

p.s. apologies for anyone who nodded off during the reading of this post.
 

Value my car