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What is Opposite-Lock?

Opposite-Lock defined

The term “Opposite lock” is used to mean the deliberate use of over steer to turn a vehicle quickly around a corner without losing much momentum.

If you’ve watched any good rally driver strutting his/her stuff, you will have noticed how often the opposite-lock will be used by them in order to get around sharp corners. The rally car appears to travel around the tight bend sideways while the opposite-lock is being applied.

If you are using the term “opposite lock”, you will be referring to the position of the steering wheel while manoeuvring around a tight bend at speed. The steering wheel is turned in the opposite direction to that of the bend (anyone see the Disney movie Cars for a demonstration of opposite lock turns on dirt?).

The opposite lock technique works best on loose surfaces where the friction between the tyres and the road is not great, but can also be used on asphalt or other surfaces with high friction if the vehicle has enough power to maintain speed.

Before entry to the bend, the car is turned towards the bend slightly, but quickly, so as to cause a sliding motion that induces the rear of the car to slide outwards. Power is applied which applies further sideways movement. At the same time, opposite-lock steering is applied to keep the car on the desired course. As the car reaches the bend it will have already turned through most of the needed angle, travelling sideways and losing some speed as a result. A smooth application of power at this point will accelerate the car into the bend and then through it, gradually removing the sideways element of travel. Overall, the bend will have been negotiated much more rapidly than driving through it in a normal approach. In skilled hands, the result is excellent. When executed badly, the result is entirely the opposite.

The opposite locking technique is easier to perform in rear wheel drive vehicles. For front-wheel drive vehicles, there is much less natural tendency for the rear wheels to break traction because they are not transmitting power to the road.

Learning the art of performing the opposite-locking technique should be encouraged because, in the event of an emergency, you have a skill up your sleeve that can keep a car under control if required.We hope that helps answer the question ‘What is What is Opposite-Lock?’!

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