Cooley On Cars
Car Tech 101: Understanding rear-wheel steeringIs four-wheel steering finally ready for your next car? Brian Cooley explains the benefits.
[MUSIC] All-wheel drive has become pretty common in performance cars, off-road vehicles and just about everything in between. But if driving with four wheels is better, why not steering with the same number? It remains much less common but perhaps getting more so. OKay, now on the kind of steering you have in your car today, traditional front-wheel steering like basically every car, things are pretty simple, it's very intuitive. Your car goes where the front wheels are pointed, turn left, turn right, that's where the nose of the car goes, and the back end of the car gets dragged along for the ride. With rear-wheel steering it's never quite that Simple, where the wheels turn will vary. At high speed for example the rear wheels will turn in sympathy with the front wheels, the same general direction, though to a lesser degree. And this allows the car to almost kind of shift to the next lane for example, as opposed to turning and then correcting. I'm over simplifying here but this is a very different way of moving a car across a lane or through a broad freeway curve. Now, at low speed, it's a very different situation. Now the back wheels are going to turn against, or in the opposite direction, of the front wheels, and again, at a lesser degree. This gives you a much tighter turning radius and maneuverability. The car could really make some tight cuts getting in and out of parking situations. The ability to cut corners and get in and out of parking spots with far less effort. Your car feels less like a grocery cart as you're trying to nibble and maneuver into parallel parking, for example. But you wouldn't do this at high speed cuz there's gonna be all kinds of stability problems. And what this does when you are driving around town is make it feel like you've moved the pivot point of the car from where it typically is here back in between the rear wheels To somewhere, kind of, in the middle. Makes the car feel like it's turning on a center pivot, which is a really interesting feel for maneuverability. It's kind of like magic when you drive something like this. Another smaller benefit is being able to tow in or pigeon toe the rear wheels during a hard stop kind of like what a skier does to slow down, which can help stabilize and slow a vehicle. Note that read wheel steering is distinct from rear wheel cornering systems, that can either apply torque or breaking to a single rear wheel to help a car's dynamics through a corner. The first car with big success in 4 wheel steering was the third generation Honda Prelude He used a mechanical system of linkages running up and down the car. And honestly, it was kind of a market flop. After that Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Renault, GMC, Acura, Toyota, and more have all done four wheel steering at some point. The latest systems, you might see from Acura, Porsche, Cadillac, Audi use electromechanical connections To a compact rear steering mechanism that is smaller, lighter and smarter than those of the past and they maybe setting a table for a future where the back wheel are more than just fancy cursors. [MUSIC] More care tech [UNKNOWN] at CNETOnCars.com click on car tech 101 [MUSIC]