Driving techniques

Glossary

Below is a list of automotive terms which are explained in plain english - no engineering jargon here!

Term Definition
ABS
Anti-lock Braking System. An electronically controlled braking system which allows rapid braking without wheel lock. This allows the driver to brake without the risk of wheels locking which can lead to lack of steering control. 
Burnout
Spinning the driven wheels extensively from a standstill. 
Cadence braking
An emergency braking procedure using rhythmic application and release of the brakes to strike a compromise between slowing down with locked wheels, and retaining the ability to steer. For more information see our braking section.
Double declutching Used to aid the transition into a gear. This techniques involves pressing the clutch, popping the gear into neutral, releasing the clutch briefly, then pressing the cluch again and selecting the desired gear.
Doughnut / Donut
Making a car rotate repeatedly while spinning the rear wheels or all four wheels. Done properly, the tyre marks should form a doughnut pattern.
Drifting
The popular sport of inducing and maintaining a state of oversteer through corners for dramatic effect. Can also be used during racing on low grip surfaces such as rally driving.
ECU Electronic Control Unit - the computer hardware which controls all electonic elements of a car.
Grip
The available friction between a tyre's contact patch and the road surface. Grip can be artificially increased or reduced by factors such as the weight acting on the wheel. 
Handbrake turn /
E-brake turn
A method of turning an angle (usually more than 90 degrees) by locking up the rear wheels with the hand brake, allowing the rear of the car to slide in the direction of steering. 
J-turn
An evasive driving technique to change direction quickly. Starting with the car in reverse, then spinning 180 degrees and driving off forwards. 
Lift-off oversteer
A loss of traction at the rear wheels resulting from the driver reducing the throttle while cornering. This can lead to a forwards weight transfer which in tern lowers the grip available at the rear wheels. If the car is traveling sufficiently quickly, oversteer can result. 
Locked wheel braking
Applying the brakes so hard that wheels lock and start to skid. Note that steering is impossible if the front wheels have locked. For more information see our braking section.
Moment of inertia The moment of inertia describes how difficult it is to change the angular motion of a car about an axis i.e. how difficult it is to turn due to weight distribution
Oversteer
If the rear wheels of a car lose grip while cornering, oversteer is the result. This causes the rear wheels to slide towards the outside of the turn. A car prone to oversteer is known as 'tail happy'. 
Racing line
The imaginary line that a driver should follow when taking a corner fast. The racing line depends on the car, the conditions and the track. In basic terms, the straighter the line, the faster you can go. 
Scandinavian flick

A method of turning tight corners used in rallying.

Sequential gearbox
A gearbox which only allows the driver to select the gears in sequence. However these gearboxes can usually be used without the clutch and thus can result in very fast changes. 
Sipes Sipes are small slits in the tread blocks of a tyre which allow a better contact between a tyre and slippery road surface. Winter tyres will, due to the nature of the work they are designed for, have a greater number of sipes on the tread surface than a standard road tyre.
Threshold braking
A technique used to slow down in the shortest distance possible by using the maximum brake force possible without locked wheels. For more information see our braking section.
Trail braking
The process of feathering the brake on entry to a corner. This can help increase the grip at the front wheels, reducing understeer and thus improving the ability of the car to turn while traveling at speed. 
Understeer
If the front wheels of a car lose grip while cornering, understeer is the result. This causes the car to continue in a straight line despite steering.
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