How Do Car Top Carriers Affect Handling of the Vehicle?


Quick Answer

Car top carriers can affect a vehicle's handling by producing either increased understeer or oversteer, depending on where the carrier is on the vehicle and how much weight it holds. A car top carrier that causes a vehicle to be heavier in the front produces understeer, and a car top carrier that increases a vehicle's rear-end weight causes oversteer. A properly loaded and centered car top carrier has very little impact on vehicle handling.

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Full Answer

A car top carrier that increases forward weight in a vehicle causes a phenomenon called understeer, which results from an uneven slip angle between the front and rear tires. A vehicle that understeers continues moving in the direction of a straight line even when the driver has the steering wheel locked as far left or right as it will turn. While understeer makes performing sharp turns at high speed more difficult, it is generally much safer than oversteer.

A vehicle with a car top carrier that puts more weight on the back of the vehicle has a greater slip angle on the rear tires than those in front, causing the vehicle to oversteer. An oversteering vehicle continues turning into a turn even when the driver attempts to straighten the steering wheel. Oversteer can be very dangerous for inexperienced drivers, as oversteering vehicles can quickly spin out of control if the driver turns the wheel too sharply in either direction.

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