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Go Kart Understeer – Racing Tips and Tricks | Speed Secrets

Go Kart Understeer is the universal word used to describe a go kart that turned less than was expected.

Just like oversteer, understeer is a strange way to describe a situation while racing a go kart.

Understeer is not a fun time. You just feel the speed being sucked out of your go kart and there isn’t much you can do in the moment.

Go Kart Understeer – What is it?

When you enter the corner, and you turn the wheel to hit the apex it will require more steering wheel input than should be required.

We also call understeer a push. Pushing or a push is the term we used to describe an understeer condition.

Go Kart Understeer

Go Kart Understeer – My Go Kart is Tight

Understeer is synonymous with being tight. The feeling of understeer is not fun. It is slow, frustrating, and most of the time requires you to slow down even more to finally remedy it while on the track!

So, why does understeer mean tight?

Unlike oversteer where the front had more grip, understeer means the rear has more grip than the front can overcome.

Everything starts with your entry to the corner. If you cannot generate enough grip in the front tires to get the go kart to turn, you don’t stand a chance.

The solid rear axle does not allow for independent wheel speed rotation in the rear. This prevents the go kart from turning… easily.

The front tires have the responsibility to get the weight moving around the go kart. If the front tires can do that then the inside rear wheel can lift off the ground due to the flex in the chassis.

How to Correct Understeer in a Go Kart

Correcting Understeer in your go kart is not impossible. There are a few ways you can do this on track and more than a few off-track adjustments to remedy this issue.

Understeer is a killer. The speed you lose from scrubbing the front tires across the track is a horrible feeling.

Be sure to get understeer corrected!

Driver Input – Go Kart Understeer

You do not want to hear this.

Are you ready?

Slow Down.

Unfortunately slowing down may be the best solution on track.

The tires on your go kart, even at optimal set-up, only have so much grip. If you drive faster than the grip potential of the tires you will end up in an understeer condition.

Similarly, if your go kart is heavy on front grip you can also overdrive the rear tire grip potential and be in an oversteer condition.

By slowing down you allow the front tires to get a grip… on the track.

You may be thinking – How slow do you expect me to slow down!

I’m not telling you to park it in the corner. Racing is all about being innovative and trying new things.

Back up your entry into the corner. Meaning lift off the throttle sooner. If you are dealing with an understeer condition, slow down your entry into the corner. Sometimes slower is faster… not literally but entering a corner slower may give you a faster exit.

Turn the Steering wheel More

While you are in an understeer condition there isn’t much you can do. Pairing with slowing down you can try another tactic.

Turn the wheel more.

Pretty crazy right?

If slowing down does not help just keep turning the wheel in the direction you want to go. Slowing down may help but not if not just keep turning.

Learn from your competitors – Avoiding Understeer

If you are wondering, am I driving too deep into the corner? Or am I not driving deep enough?

Find the fastest person on the track and follow them. See if you can keep up with them entering the corner. This will be your best gauge on how your driving style is compared to the fast people.

Setup adjustments. – Go Kart Understeer

If you are trying to correct an understeer condition you can follow these tips on correcting understeer.

  1. Raise tire pressure – Raising tire pressure on the front wheels will increase the grip.
  2. Widen the front track width – When you move the front wheels out on the spindles you will increase the track width. This increases the front grip.
  3. Increase the nose weight – Increasing the nose weight will help increase the grip of the front tires.
  4. Increase Caster – Increasing caster will create more weight movement helping lift the inside rear wheel off the ground
  5. Increase Positive Camber – It is possible you have too much negative camber in your front tires. By increasing positive camber, you will be putting more of the front tire on the track, increasing the grip potential.

All of these adjustments are universal. But there is a limit to everything. If increasing positive camber helps, putting more in the next time may make you slower. Be careful in your adjustments and always document!

Documenting your changes will make you that much better of a go karter in the future. You will know exactly what change to make and when.

For some more interesting information on Understeer click here.

Do go karts understeer or oversteer?


Understeer is more common on a live axle setup.

Depending on a wide variety of reasons a go kart can oversteer and understeer.

How to Fix Understeer?

Understeer can be fixed by increasing the grp of the front tires.

Using setup adjustments and driving techniques you can reduce the amount of understeer you encounter.

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