Cars Simplified: Everything Automotive Explained

Torque Steer

A trait common in front wheel drive vehicles with a lot of power, torque steering (or just "torque steer") is an effect caused by rotational inertia, which transfers from the engine to the steering axis, causing a "pull" which the driver has to resist through the steering wheel. Typically, the greater the engine's torque level, the greater the effect is felt by the driver in the steering wheel.

It takes much more engine power to make a four wheel drive vehicle to experience torque steering, since only about half the power ends up in the front wheels. Even if torque steer is experienced, the driving characteristics of a four wheel drive vehicle compensate for it.

Rear wheel drive vehicles don't send power to the wheels used for steering, so there isn't any torque to feel through the steering wheel.

How to Reduce Torque Steer

The effects of torque steering can sometimes be avoided by reducing throttle input. From a machanical standpoint, the effect can be reduced by lowering power output, adjusting the gearing leverage of the steering system, or sending more engine power to the power steering system. Since most front wheel drive vehicles don't produce an incredibly high amount of power, most of the time torque steer is just a tolerable minor inconvinience.

Designing the car so that the CV axles are the same length on both sides also helps, but this is near impossible to accomplish as a DIY modification or in a shop without completely swapping over to a new drivetrain.