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Some Helpful Definitions

Some helpful definitions

  • Roll Center - Both front and rear suspensions have a Roll Center. This is an imaginary point around which the body of the car will rotate in a turn. The attachment points of the suspension components determine the Roll Center.
  • Roll Axis - A line between the front & rear Roll Centers.
  • CG (Center of Gravity) - The center point of the vehicle's mass.
  • Understeer - When the front tires lose traction first.
  • Oversteer - When the rear tires lose traction first.
  • Neutral Steer - The ideal balance when the front & rear tires gradually give up traction at an equal rate.
  • Spring Rate - Expressed in pounds per inch, it is the force necessary to compress the spring, i.e. a 200 lb spring requires 200 lbs to compress it 1 inch, 400 lbs to compress it 2 inches, etc.
  • Motion Ratio - Specifically we usually refer to the relationship between the motion of the wheel and the motion of the spring; i.e. If the spring is half the distance from the control arm pivot as the wheel is, the motion ratio relative to the wheel is .5 to 1.
  • Wheel Rate - The combined effect of spring rate, motion ratio, friction and/or binding of other suspension components measured at the wheel
  • Roll Bind - Any binding of suspension components that occurs as the body of the car leans over in a turn
  • Roll Steer - Generally refers to a steering effect on the rear axle as the car leans over in a corner. Caused by the rear control arms pivoting around their forward mounting point, drawing the axle forward as the arm moves up or down.
  • Bumpsteer - Toe change as the suspension moves up & down
  • Ackerman - Or in other words Toe out in turns. When turning the inside tire must turn more than the outer tire because it is turning on a smaller radius
  • Camber - Expressed in degrees, it is how much the tire leans in or out
  • Caster - The forward inclination of the spindle or strut - like the forks on a bicycle
  • Toe - The difference in the distance between the leading and trailing edge


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