Manufacturers are always looking for ways to make tires safer, more efficient, and longer lasting without sacrificing overall performance. Tires are designed by engineers who have a complete understanding of every force that affects the way tires perform. The different ways tires affect your vehicle are called dynamics. One important tire dynamic that affects handling is called cornering force.
Cornering force is caused by the turning of tires. The good news is you don't need a degree in physics to understand this aspect of tire performance. RightTurn.com can explain what cornering force is and how it affects your safety behind the wheel.
What Is Cornering Force?
All vehicles experience cornering force every time they turn. Cornering force is simply the physical force that is applied to the tires as they work through a turn. When you think about how well your vehicle handles, you're thinking about how well the tires transfer the work of your vehicle's engine and suspension system to the road through cornering force. The cornering force provides the tires with power to grip the road through the turn. In the process, the tires change shape slightly. Directly associated to cornering force is cornering power. Cornering power is what determines responsive handling.
What Affects Cornering Force?
Speed, weight, and road conditions, affect cornering force the most.
The cornering force applied to a tire increases at higher speeds. Some tires cannot handle the force caused by higher speeds. Always make sure you have tires with the speed rating recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer. You can find speed rating information in your vehicle owner's manual. The information also appears on a sticker either on the driver's side door jamb, inside the glove box, or in the trunk. If you cannot find information about the right tire speed rating for you, contact your dealership.
Adding weight to a vehicle also increases the cornering force. Make sure you have tires with the proper load range or load index for your vehicle. You can also find this information in your owner's manual or on your service sticker. It's easy to lose control of an overloaded vehicle. Driving on tires with a load range or load index that is too low produces the same effect. If you're concerned that your vehicle is overloaded, reduce your speed, especially while you turn. Stop your vehicle and make sure your tires can handle the load your vehicle carries. If it cannot, reduce the excess weight in your vehicle and install tires with the proper load limit. If you're not sure what load limit you need, remember that your dealership can help.
In weather like rain and snow, it's more difficult for your tires to grip the road. Where they would normally keep traction and use cornering force to turn your vehicle, they may slide on wet or frozen roads. This means that you should reduce your speed during bad weather especially while you turn. Slowing down gives your tires more time to grip the road and avoid sliding. Engineers use different materials and patterns in all-season and winter tires to help them keep their traction in bad weather. Using one of these tire types may help you keep the power of cornering force working in your favor year-round.
What Tires Have the Best Cornering Force?
When you describe the handling of your vehicle as crisp or responsive, you're really saying its tires have great cornering force. The best high performance tires help sports cars and sedans take turns like they're on rails. Tires with the best cornering force have a low-profile design and sticky tread material. Tread patterns on these tires also hold tight and offer tremendous power in high-speed cornering maneuvers.