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Vehicle Dynamics, Control and Suspensions

7 - Handling - Fundamentals
David Crolla

Contents
7.1
Analysis .. 2
ddddd7.1.1
ddddd7.1.2
Stability . 7
ddddd7.1.3
Frequency responses ... 11
7.2
Practical implications 14
ddddd7.2.1
Vehicle CG position .. 16
ddddd7.2.2
Tyre cornering stiffnesses . 16
ddddd7.2.3
ddddd7.2.4
Camber angle 18
ddddd7.2.5
Compliance steer effects .. 19
7.3
A complete example .. 19
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7.1 Analysis
The equations developed in Module 5 are first order, simultaneous, linear differential equations and
three types of solution are useful to the vehicle designer. In practice, these refer to three types of
driving condition and it is important to establish a relationship between the mathematical solution
and its equivalent practical implications.
The steady state response refers to a steady cornering condition in which the vehicle is driven at a
fixed speed and steer angle, resulting in a constant radius of turn. Vehicles are rarely driven for long
in such steady conditions but the steady state responses are important because they relate to one of
the standard methods of testing and characterising the basic vehicle handling behaviour.
The stability solution refers to straight running conditions with no steering wheel input applied. In
practice, it reflects moderate to high speed cruising conditions on essentially straight roads such as
motorways. Under such conditions, the vehicle is continually subjected to small disturbances, for
example from wind fluctuations or an uneven road, which perturb it from its trim (ie. equilibrium
running) condition. The transient response of the vehicle to these small disturbances is of
considerable importance. Of course, the designer always wants to ensure stability, implying that the
vehicle returns to its equilibrium condition following a disturbance. However, cases of unstable
behaviour still occur in practice; well known examples include jack-knifing of articulated lorries and
car-caravan snaking. For small vehicles, the quality of the transient response can be categorised
by effective directional stiffness and damping properties.
The frequency response solution refers to the vehicle's response following a sinusoidal steer input at
the steering wheel. This clearly does not have a direct practical relevance since it does not represent
everyday driving practice! Nevertheless, it does characterise the general dynamic response of the
vehicle to steer inputs. The full significance of the frequency response can only be appreciated
through an understanding of Fourier analysis and linear dynamic systems. Briefly, this is as follows.
Any form of input can be decomposed into its frequency components; the frequency response
function provides a complete description of the system's response to each of these components, and
finally, the output is the linear sum of all these responses. Therefore, in an indirect way, the
frequency response function provides a complete description of the vehicle's response to any form of
steering input. Nevertheless, it is widely recognised that frequency response results, whether
obtained theoretically or experimentally, are rather difficult to interpret and relate to practical
vehicle behaviour.
These three solution types are inevitably interconnected. For example, the steady state response is
the limiting value of the frequency response as frequency is reduced to zero, and the expressions
defining overall handling behaviour - understeer and oversteer - recur in each solution.

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7.1.1

The steady state solution is obtained by setting the dynamic terms, v& and r& , to zero in equation

(19), Module 5, and solving to obtain the outputs, v and r, in terms of the input, f The steady state
form of this equation is:

C + C
fU r
aC bC
( f r )
U

mU +

aC f bCr

U
a 2 C f b 2 Cr

) v

Cf
=
aC f
r

[ ]

(1)

and using Cramer's Rule then gives

UlC f Cr

l 2 C f Cr + mU 2 bCr aC f

(2)

in which l is the wheelbase, a + b , and the subscript ss is used to denote the steady state response.

Cramer's Rule
The solutions, x 1 to x n , of a set of n linear simultaneous equations :

a11 L a1n x1
b1

M M = M
M
a n1 K a nn x n
bn

(3)

Ax = b

(4)

or
have the form

xj =

Dj
D

( j = 1 to n)

(5)

where D is the determinant of A and D j is the determinant of A with its j th column replaced by b.
As an example, consider the second order equations:

a11
a
21

a12 x1
b1
=

a 22 x 2
b2

(6)

In this case,

D=

a11
a 21

and then

x1 =

a12
b1
, D1 =
a 22
b2

a12
a11 b1
, D2 =
,
a 22
a 21 b2

(7)

b1a22 b2 a12
b a b a
, x2 = 2 11 1 21
a11a22 a12 a21
a11a22 a12 a21

(8)

This solution represents the vehicle in a steady cornering condition with a yaw rate, rss . Since the
vehicle forward speed is constant, there are some simple relationships with other parameters used to
describe the vehicle motion, see Figure 7.1.
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ss =

1
R

(9)

U
R

(10)

U2
a ss =
R

(11)

Figure 7.1 - The basic vehicle describing a steady turn

Equation (2) can be rewritten in terms of the path curvature per unit steer angle, as follows:

ss
1
=
f l + KU 2

(12)

in which l is the wheelbase, a+b, and

K=

m bCr aC f

(13)

lC f Cr

The expression bCr aC f , within K, is called the stability margin and its sign determines the sign
of K. In fact, the sign of K is central to the description of the handling behaviour in terms of
understeer or oversteer. There are three conditions of interest, shown in Figure 7.2:
1. K = 0 , Neutral steer - Here ss f = 1 l , corresponding to a pure rolling vehicle for which

f l R (see Figure 7.3).

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2. K > 0 , Understeer - Response is always stable and decreases with increasing vehicle speed.
Practically, the vehicle is often described as if it wants to run wide at corners, or that more
steering input than anticipated is required to get round the corner.
3. K < 0 , Oversteer - Response increases with increasing speed and there is a critical speed,

U crit , at which the response becomes infinite, given by

U crit =

l 2 C f Cr
l
=
K
m aC f bCr

(14)

Practically, the vehicle feels as if it is turning more than anticipated and the driver may have
to reduce the steer input in order to keep to the desired path.

Figure 7.2 - The relationship between steady state path curvature and speed for different values of K.

There are many other ways of presenting steady state behaviour, which have been described in the
literature. For example, the steady state path curvature, yaw rate or lateral acceleration ( 1 R , U R
or U 2 R ) could be plotted against f for a fixed forward speed, U, giving (in the linear case) a
straight line graph with slope depending on K. At neutral steer the slope is 1 l , U l or U 2 l ,
respectively.
Probably the best method of summarising steady state behaviour is to define the understeer
parameter. It will be seen in later modules that this approach naturally lends itself to being extended
to cover more realistic, non-linear vehicle behaviour. The steady state responses in these cases may

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be predicted from more sophisticated models, or obtained practically from measurements. Equation
(12) can be rearranged to give

f =

U2
l
+K
R
R

(15)

in which l R is the steer angle, at the roadwheels, required to drive a pure rolling vehicle (no
sideslip) along a circular path of radius R, and U 2 R is the steady state lateral acceleration. If R is
fixed, as in a constant radius steerpad test, then K is the gradient of the graph of f against U 2 R

and is called the understeer gradient or understeer parameter. Its units are rad m s 2

but it is

commonly expressed in / g (g = 9.81m / s ).

2

In linear models, the graph of steer angle against lateral acceleration is linear and K is the constant
gradient. In non-linear models, although the graph is approximately linear at low levels of lateral
acceleration (less than 0.3g, say), its deviation from linearity at higher lateral accelerations can still
be used to characterise the steady state behaviour.

Figure 7.3 - The relationship between steer angle, turn radius and wheelbase for a pure rolling vehicle. Since
l << R , the relationship approximates to f l R .

The most comprehensive set of measurements of the understeer parameter has been undertaken in a
study by the SAE (Riede, Leffert and Cobb, Typical Vehicle Parameters for Dynamics Studies
Revised for the 1980's, SAE paper 840561). The understeer parameter was plotted against kerb
weight for a large number of cars, mostly American, giving an average value of 4.4 deg/g for
American cars and 2.6 deg/g for European cars, Figure 7.4.

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Because the steady state solutions are so important, research workers have, over the years,
experimented with every possible method of presenting them. These differing ways of presenting
steady state results can often lead to confusion, but it is worth noting that they only contain a limited
amount of information - albeit important information - and so it is preferable to standardise on a
single method of presentation.

Figure 7.4 - The relationship between understeer parameter and vehicle weight for a selection of American
and European cars (from SAE paper 840561).

Finally, it is worth reiterating the key reasons behind the importance of steady state results:
The concepts of understeer and oversteer carry over into dynamic behaviour,
They are cheap and relatively simple for practical testing on a steering pad.

7.1.2

Stability

The solution of the equations of motion (19), Module 5, with the input, f , set to zero, represents
the case of the vehicle travelling in a straight line, for example under motorway conditions. Under
such straight running conditions, the vehicle is continually subjected to small perturbations arising
from wind gusts, road camber, road irregularities, etc, and the transient response to these small
disturbances can be assessed by looking at the roots of the equations. In other dynamical systems,
this solution is often referred to as the free vibration response.
With no input, the equations (20), Module 5, become homogeneous,:

P x& + Q x = 0

(16)

and solutions have the form

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x = x0 e t

(17)

where x 0 is a constant vector and is a complex number. It follows that x& = x 0 e

equation (16) becomes

= x , and

( P + Q ) x = 0

(18)

This has a non-zero solution only if the determinant of matrix P + Q is zero.

The set of linear simultaneous equations Ax = b, with b = 0, has a unique solution x = A-1 b if and
only if the inverse A-1 exists, ie. if the determinant of A is not zero. If b = 0 then there is always the
trivial solution x = 0, but another solution exists if the determinant of A is zero. Compare the scalar
equation ax = 0, which must have a = 0 or x = 0, with the matrix equation Ax = 0, in which both A
and x may be non-zero.

This determinant is a quadratic in , called the characteristic equation, which will yield two
solutions, 1 and 2, say, and can be reduced to the form:

) (

I C + C + m a 2C + b2C

f
r
f
r
+
mIU

) +

( a + b) 2 C f Cr bCr aC f
+
+
2
I
mIU

=0

(19)

or

2 + D + S = 0

(20)

Note that D is always positive but S can be positive or negative. A useful analogy is the damped
simple harmonic oscillator with no forcing (Figure 7.5), which is governed by the equations:

mx&& + cx& + kx = 0

(21)

c
k
+ =0
m
m

(22)

2+
or

2 + 2 n + n2 = 0

(23)

Thus, the coefficient, D, can be viewed as a damping term and S as a stiffness term. Damping as
a proportion of critical is D 2 S and is always positive if S is positive. From the expression for D,
damping is seen to decrease as U increases.

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Figure 7.5 - A one degree of freedom mass-spring-damper

For the stiffness term there are two distinct cases, depending on the sign of the stability margin,
bCr - aCf .
1. bCr > aCf
S is always positive but its magnitude decreases as U increases.
The system is unconditionally stable.
The system exhibits damped oscillatory behaviour.
Damping decreases as U increases, and the system may exhibit markedly oscillatory
behaviour.
2. bCr < aCf
S decreases to zero as U increases to the critical speed, Ucrit, given in equation (14), and when
U > Ucrit , S is negative, giving divergent, unstable motion.
Damping is always high. It increases as U increases, and even at moderate values of U it can
be greater than critical.
The two solutions of equation (19) are either both real: 1 = 1, 2 = 2, or complex conjugates:

1 = + i, 2 = i. In either case, the values of determine stability - if any is positive,

then the system is unstable, otherwise it is stable.
The solutions, , are called eigenvalues. They can be plotted in the complex plane and their
positions tracked as some parameter is changed over a range of values. The natural frequency and
damping ratio are related to the eigenvalues as follows (refer to Figure 7.6):
The undamped natural frequency is the distance of the eigenvalue from the origin.
The damped natural frequency is the imaginary part of the eigenvalue.
The damping ratio (damping as a proportion of critical) is the sine of the angle between the
eigenvalue and the imaginary axis.
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Figure 7.6 - Typical eigenvalues in the complex plane, and their relationship with natural frequency and
damping ratio

As an illustration, consider an idealised parameter set given in Table 7.1. Since a = b and Cr = Cf,
the stability margin is zero and the vehicle has neutral steer. The two eigenvalues are 1 = -5.30 and

2 = -5.52, giving a stable system which happens to be critically damped in this special case.
Now consider variations in a and b (with a + b constant) which alter the stability margin, as given in
Table 7.2. In Figure 7.7 the eigenvalues are plotted in the complex plane for values of forward speed
increasing in geometric progression from 10 m/s to 50 m/s, denoted by increasing symbol size.
Table 7.1 - Handling parameter data for an arbitrary vehicle.
Parameter
Total mass
Total yaw inertia
CG to front axle
CG to rear axle
Front axle cornering stiffness

Symbol

Cf

Value
1
1.5
1.25
1.25
53

tm2
m
m

Cr

53

Forward speed

20

m/s

m
I
a
b

Units

Table 7.2 - Modifications to the parameter set given inTable 7.1.

Parameter
a
b

bC r aC f
K

U crit

Units
m
m
deg/g
m/s

Understeer
US
1.15
1.35
+10.6

Neutral steer
NS
1.25
1.25
0

Oversteer
OS
1.35
1.15
-10.6

+0.85

-0.85
41

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In Case US the eigenvalues are seen to be oscillatory with damping ratio decreasing as speed
increases. In Case OS the eigenvalues are real and one of them crosses the origin to instability at
U = Ucrit i.e. at 41 m/sec. In Case NS (not shown) the eigenvalues are also real but remain to the left
of the origin.
Eigenvalue plots usually show only the upper half of the complex plane since values below the real
axis are mirror images of those above.

Figure 7.7 - The eigenvalues of the basic vehicle as forward speed is increased from 10 m/sec (smallest
symbols) to 50 m/sec (largest symbols).

7.1.3

Frequency responses

The frequency response gives a full description of the small perturbation, dynamic behaviour of the
vehicle. The steady state response is the limiting case of frequency response at zero frequency.
The input is assumed to be sinusoidal and in general terms, referring to equation (20), Module 5, has
the form

u = U ei t

(24)

in which is the frequency (in rad/sec) and U is a constant vector. The solution will then have a
similar form:

x = X e i t ,

(25)

where X is, in general, complex and represents the gain and phase shift which x undergoes in
response to the input. It follows that x& = i x and equation (20) Module 5, can be rearranged to
give:
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X = (i P + Q) R U = H U
1

(26)

Matrix H is called the transfer function of the system of equations. In this case there is a single
input, f = f ei, and the transfer function is a (2 x 1) column matrix:

H
H = v
Hr

(27)

so that

X v f = Hv ( ) ,

X r f = Hr ( )

(28)

Xv f =

Vr + iVi
,
Dr + iDi

Xr f =

Rr + iRi
Dr + iDi

(29)

in which subscripts r and i denote real and imaginary parts, and

(30)

I ( C f + Cr ) + m ( a 2C f + b2Cr )

(31)

Dr = mI +
2

Di =

l 2 C f Cr
U2

+ m bCr aC f

U
Vr =

lbC f Cr

maC f U
U
Vi = IC f

Rr =

lC f Cr

U
Ri = maC f

(32)
(33)
(34)
(35)

The complex quantity, Xv / f is most meaningfully expressed in polar form, resulting in a lateral
velocity gain per unit steer angle and an associated phase shift, both of which are functions of
frequency, . Similarly, Xr / f results in a yaw rate gain per unit steer angle and its associated
phase.
Once Xv and Xr have been evaluated, any linear combination is also available. In particular, the
response of the lateral acceleration, v& + uR , is iXv + UXr.
Since yaw rate relates to what the driver sees and lateral acceleration relates to what the driver feels,
they are generally considered to be the two important output parameters. Graphs of their gains and
phases, plotted as functions of frequency, give a complete summary of the linear response of the
vehicle.
Using the example parameters in Tables 7.1 and 7.2 above, Figures 7.8 and 7.9 show frequency
responses of yaw rate and lateral acceleration. Note that:
The response gains at zero frequency are the same as the steady state responses calculated
earlier.

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The understeering vehicle maintains a flat response up to a higher frequency. This is

highlighted in Figure 7.10, in which the response gains are normalised to their steady state
values.

Figure 7.8 - Yaw rate frequency response gains and phases for three cases: understeer, neutral steer and
oversteer.

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Figure 7.9 - Lateral acceleration frequency response gains and phases for three cases: understeer, neutral
steer and oversteer.

7.2

Practical implications

The term bC r aC f , referred to as the stability margin, has been shown to be a critical design
parameter. Moreover, its importance in controlling understeer and oversteer behaviour has been
reinforced in both the steady state and stability forms of solution of the equations of motion. This
link between the steady state behaviour and the transient response of the vehicle is an important
element in vehicle dynamics studies. It means, for example, that a vehicle classified as understeering
or oversteering from a steady state test will exhibit certain types of transient behaviour. This
correlation between steady state and transient response of the vehicle provides the justification for

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the continuing reliance on steady state test procedures throughout the industry to characterise
vehicle dynamic behaviour.

Figure 7.10 - The gains of the previous two figures, normalised to their steady state (zero frequency) values.

Having accepted that the stability margin is a key design parameter, the question arises of what the
designer can do to influence it in order to promote under or oversteer effects. This design thinking
can, however, be usefully extended by broadening the definition of the cornering stiffnesses, C f
and Cr . Strictly, these terms are functions of the slip angles only. However, an effective cornering
stiffness can be viewed as consisting of the primary effect due to slip angle, plus a smaller,
secondary effect due to other features such as camber, compliance steer, etc. These effective
cornering stiffnesses will be denoted by C f and Cr . Hence, the effective stability margin becomes

bCr aC f .

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These additional small effects can be used in practice to tune the vehicle by adjusting the stability
margin by small amounts. For example, the effect of camber angle, , is to generate a lateral force
which for small angles may be expressed as:

Fy (due to camber) = C

(36)

where C is the tyre camber stiffness. This force may be assumed (again for small angles) to add to
the slip angle term by linear superposition. Thus, an effective cornering stiffness, C f , could be

viewed as the combined effects of C f and a camber effect. The important result of this argument is
that the simple 2dof model can be used as a basis for considering the effect of camber, even though
camber is not included in the model.
Some examples of design features which influence the stability margin, bC r aC f , are discussed
below.

7.2.1

Vehicle CG position

Altering the weight distribution of the vehicle will change a and b and affect the stability margin
directly. However, the situation is not so straightforward because the vertical loads on the tyres will
also be changed and these will affect the cornering stiffness values. If C f and Cr are relatively
insensitive to vertical load - which is often the case for relatively heavily laden tyres - then the effect
on the stability margin of changing a and b is easily predicted. In other cases, the combined effects
of the CG position and the cornering stiffnesses must be calculated. The general trend is that moving
the CG rearwards - the extreme case being a rear engine vehicle - promotes oversteer.
7.2.2

Tyre cornering stiffnesses

The cornering stiffnesses, C f and Cr , can be altered by a substantial amount by changing the tyre
size. However, although equipping the car with different tyres front to rear is not practical for most
cars, it is used on some powerful rear engined cars, Porsche, for example, as a means of
substantially increasing Cr to avoid oversteer.
More modest changes in C f and Cr can be effected by altering tyre pressures. Over the normal
working load range of the tyre, an increase in pressure results in an increase in cornering stiffness.
The vehicle designer invariably has to use this tyre pressure effect to compensate for the various
results in a substantial change in a and b. The designer, however, would prefer a car whose handling
qualities remain consistent over the loading range and the practice of recommending different tyre
pressures for various conditions is a standard way of trying to compensate the stability margin.
Historically, another problem existed which is now disappearing with the widespread adoption of
radial tyres. Cross-ply tyres have a significantly lower cornering stiffness than radials of the same
size. Hence, if both radials and cross-plys are used on a vehicle, there is a danger of affecting the

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stability margin substantially. Legislation still exists in the UK to prohibit the use of cross-plys on
the rear axle in these circumstances.

7.2.3

During cornering, load transfer across an axle takes place so that the load on the outer wheel is
increased and the load on the inner one is decreased by the same amount. Under the assumptions
used for the 2dof model, which ignores suspension deflections, the calculation of this load transfer is
straightforward (Figure 7.11).

Figure 7.11 - A simple calculation of load transfer in a cornering vehicle, in which a y denotes the lateral
acceleration.

If the cornering stiffness were proportional to load, then the net effect of this load transfer would be
zero. The decrease in lateral force at the inner wheels would be exactly compensated by an
equivalent increase at the outer wheels, so when the forces on the two wheels were summed the total
lateral force would remain constant. However, the cornering stiffness is not constant with vertical
load and a typical graph of lateral force against vertical load for a given value of slip angle is shown
in Figure 7.12. It can be seen from this curve that there is a net reduction in total lateral force due to
the load transfer effect. The lateral force generated by the inner plus outer wheels during cornering
must always be less than the lateral force generated by the two wheels at their static loads. The
designer can use this load transfer effect to reduce the effective cornering stiffness at one end of the
vehicle.
The mechanism which the designer can use to control this effect is the roll stiffness balance between
the front and rear of the vehicle. The total load transfer must be reacted across both ends of the
vehicle and the ratio in which this occurs turns out to be an important factor in controlling vehicle
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handling. This ratio, or front/rear balance as it is commonly called, is controlled by the relative roll
stiffnesses between front and rear. For example, if the roll stiffnesses are in the ratio 60:40 between
front and rear, then the load transfer will also be split 60:40 between front and rear (assuming that
the body is rigid). The roll stiffness is a combination of the primary suspension stiffness plus any
additional effects such as anti-roll bars. Hence, by specifying the anti-roll bars, the designer can
control the load transfer balance and thus control the lateral force reduction. Common practice, for
example, is to fit anti-roll bars at the front of the vehicle so that, as load transfer takes place, the net
lateral force at the front reduces, thereby promoting an understeering effect. This mechanism is quite
a subtle one because its effect increases in proportion to the lateral acceleration, which is a measure
of the cornering severity. Thus it can be used to ensure that the car has stable behaviour throughout
the range up to its cornering limit.

Figure 7.12 - The effect of load transfer in reducing the total lateral force generated at one end of the vehicle.

7.2.4 Camber angle

For small angles, it can reasonably be assumed that the lateral force due to slip angle and the lateral
force due to camber angle can be simply added by assuming that linear superposition applies. The
camber effect is invariably of secondary importance for two reasons. First, the tyre camber stiffness
is much lower than the cornering stiffness, and second, camber angles arising from suspension
displacement are normally very small (< 2). Nevertheless, these small camber effects can be used to
make minor adjustments to the handling balance. An example is shown in exaggerated form in
Figure 7.13. The camber angles lean outwards from the corner in this case and result in a slight
reduction in the net lateral force available for cornering.
The designer can exercise control of the camber angles through the suspension kinematic design.
However, scope is limited because in practice large camber angles are unacceptable for both tyre
wear and aesthetic reasons.

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Figure 7.13 - An example of a cornering vehicle indicating a net reduction in total lateral force due to camber
effects.

7.2.5 Compliance steer effects

The relationships between the wheel orientation and the suspension deflection are discussed in detail
in Module 8 - Handling - extensions. These relationships are governed by both kinematic and
compliance effects. However, an important feature of suspensions is their ability to cause small steer
angles when a lateral force acts at the wheel. Often this may be an undesirable side effect caused by
the rubber bushes needed to reduce suspension harshness and high frequency transmission problems,
but it can also be exploited to improve the vehicle handling properties. Rear compliance steer has
been claimed to offer advantages by, for example, Mercedes and Vauxhall. An example of a
compliance steer effect at the rear of a cornering vehicle is shown in Figure 7.14. The rear lateral
tyre force has resulted in a small steer angle, r , which, in this example, is in the same direction as

f . This results in an understeering effect since the front steer angle required to negotiate a given
turn now needs to be increased. The effect may be viewed as modifying the effective cornering
stiffness values. In the example shown, the effective rear cornering stiffness Cr has been increased,
thereby promoting understeer in the stability margin term.

7.3 A complete example

A linear analysis is conducted to compare two contrasting vehicles: a 1949 Buick and a Ferrari
Monza. The parameters are given in Table 7.3 and highlight the fundamentally different designs of
these vehicles. For example, the Buick, with its large overhanging masses outside its wheelbase, has
a large yaw inertia compared with the Ferrari, which has its wheels at each corner of the body. The
Ferrari, as might be anticipated, has much higher cornering stiffnesses relative to its mass; the
vehicle's force-generating ability relative to its mass governs its ability to generate lateral
acceleration.
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The understeer gradients indicate that the Buick is a strongly understeering vehicle - typical of
American cars of the period - while the Ferrari is slightly understeering but very close to neutral
steer.
Table 7.3 - Vehicle parameters for a 1949 Buick and a Ferrari Monza.

Parameter

Symbol

Units

1949 Buick

Ferrari Monza

Mass

2.045

1.008

Yaw inertia

tm

5.428

1.031

CG to front axle

1.488

1.234

CG to rear axle

1.712

1.022

Cf

77.85

117.44

Rear axle cornering stiffness

Cr

76.51

144.93

Wheelbase

a+b

3.200

2.256

Stability margin

bCr aC f

15.15

3.20

deg/g

0.91

0.05

Figure 7.15 shows the steady state values which arise from a 0.3 g rightward (clockwise) turn at a
fixed forward speed of 20 m/sec. The fixed lateral acceleration and forward speed imply a fixed yaw
rate (8.4 deg/sec) and a fixed turn radius (136 m). Note that in each case the slip angles are negative,
giving rise to positive (rightward) lateral tyre forces. The steady state slip angles of the Ferrari's
tyres are much smaller than those for the Buick, due to the higher cornering stiffness values.

Figure 7.14 - Rear compliance steer (shown exaggerated) which results in an understeering effect.

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D.A. Crolla

Figure 7.16 shows the way in which the eigenvalues of the two vehicles change as forward speed is
increased from 20 m/sec to 50 m/sec. The most significant difference between the two vehicles is
that the damping associated with the Buick's responses is much lower than that for the Ferrari. The
damped natural frequencies, d , and damping ratios, , are shown for three forward speeds in
Table 7.4.
Table 7.4 - Eigenvalues, damped natural frequencies and damping ratios for the Buick and the Ferrari at three
forward speeds.

Buick

Ferrari

Speed

Eigenvalue

d , Hz

Eigenvalue

d , Hz

20 m/s

-3.711.65i

0.26

0.91

-14.50.91i

0.14

1.00

30 m/s

-2.481.66i

0.26

0.83

-9.681.45i

0.23

0.99

50 m/s

-1.491.67i

0.27

0.67

-5.811.65i

0.26

0.96

Figure 7.15 - A comparison of steady state values for the Buick and Ferrari, negotiating a 0.3 g turn at 20 m/s.
(r = 8.4 deg/s, R = 136 m)

7 - Handling - Fundamentals

- 21 D.A. Crolla

Figure 7.17 compares the yaw rate response of the two vehicles to a step steer input at 50 m/sec. The
step steer was adjusted in each case to give a steady state lateral acceleration of 0.3 g. The Ferrari
responds more quickly to this input, reflecting its higher cornering stiffness per unit mass. The
Buick's responses contain a transient overshoot before settling down to a steady state turning
condition - a behaviour which might be anticipated in view of its lightly damped eigenvalues.

Figure 7.16 - Eigenvalues of the Buick and the Ferrari as forward speed is increased from 20 m/s (smallest
symbols) to 50 m/s (largest symbols).

Figure 7.17 - Time histories of the yaw rate response of the Buick and the Ferrari at 50 m/sec, following a
step steer input which results in a steady state lateral acceleration of 0.3 g.

The frequency responses, Figures 7.18 and 7.19, reinforce some of the information previously
obtained about these vehicles but also provide some further insight. At very low frequencies they are
the same as the steady state responses and the yaw rate gains of the nearly neutral steer Ferrari are
much greater than those of the understeering Buick. The lighter damping of the Buick as speed
increases is noticeable as a peak at around 0.3 Hz. This highlights one of the problems of strongly
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7 - Handling - Fundamentals
D.A. Crolla

understeering vehicles, namely that the response can feel highly oscillatory during high speed
driving.
The additional information contained in the frequency responses relates to the frequency range over
which the vehicle is capable of responding to steering inputs. The Ferrari is markedly superior in
this respect, retaining its gains up to higher frequencies than the Buick. For example, it retains its
yaw rate gain (Figure 7.19) up to around 1 Hz, whereas the Buick's response starts rolling off at
around 0.3 to 0.4 Hz.

Figure 7.18 - Yaw rate frequency response for the Buick and Ferrari at two forward speeds

7 - Handling - Fundamentals

- 23 D.A. Crolla

Figure 7.19 - Lateral acceleration frequency responses for the Buick and Ferrari at two forward speeds.

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7 - Handling - Fundamentals
D.A. Crolla