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# Written by Erik Zapletal, (C) March 2001.

This article may be freely disseminated, as long as it is not altered from its present form. If sections are "cut and paste'd" then the original authorship should be acknowledged. ~~~~oOo~~~~ TO TOE-IN, OR TO TOE-OUT? ======================THAT IS THE QUESTION!=================== INTRODUCTION -The defining characteristic of a "wheel" is that it is a structure which will roll freely in a direction perpendicular to its "axle", but it will resist movements in the direction of its axle. It follows that if we want a racecar to go fast in a straight line, then all four wheels should point in the same direction -straight-ahead. But if we want the racecar to go fast around corners -that is, we want the car to accelerate sideways by using the wheels' resistance to axial motions then in just which directions should the wheels point? Specifically, during cornering, should the front-wheels toe-in, remain parallel, or toe-out? How will these toe changes effect the dynamics of the car? And when we have decided which way the wheels should point, how should we design the steering geometry so that it actually points the wheels in the right directions? This article attempts to answer these questions. It should be noted that this article considers mainly the steering of the front-wheels of a rear-wheeldrive car being driven on a sealed road. However, many of the principles also apply to rear-steer, or front-wheel-drive, or dirt, clay or ice road surfaces. The analysis is based on a simplified two-dimensional plan view of the car. No suspension geometry is considered. "Zero-point", or "centrepoint", steering is used -that is, a vertical steering axis passing through the centre of the tyre print (giving zero offset, trail, castor-angle and kingpin-angle). Camberangle is also zero. It is only changes to the "steer-angles" that are being considered. The analysis uses specific dimensions -the car has a wheelbase of 2.6m, and a front track of 1.6m.Different dimensions will yield different results. The method used for this analysis is outlined in the section "The \$2 Super Computer".

## More ackerman and toe

TYRES -Since a car's performance is so dependent on the interaction between the tyres and the road, we should briefly consider this area. Figure 1 shows two sets of curves. One set is for a wide, low profile, radial-ply tyre. The other set is for a narrow, tall, cross-ply tyre. Each set indicates performance at two different vertical loads on the tyre. The horizontal axis indicates the so called "slip-angle" that exists between the horizontal heading of the wheel-hub, and the actual horizontal direction in which the wheel is travelling. The vertical axis indicates the force Fy that acts between the tyre and the road. This force acts at ground level, and is, by definition, horizontal and parallel to the wheel's axle in plan view. This force is often referred to as the "tyre lateral force",but to avoid confusion with the lateral forces that act on the chassis, we shall refer to it as the "axial-force".

Another way to look at this, is that with toe-in the wheel with the greater steer-angle has a short moment-arm for its axial-force about the car's centre-of-mass. With toe-out the wheel with the greater steer-angle has a longer moment-arm for its axial-force. As a generalization, the differential-longitudinal-forces are stabilizing with toe-in (giving stable high speed cruising, and "sluggish" turn-in),and destabilizing with toe-out (giving "nervous" straight line driving, and "sharp" turn-in). DYNAMIC-TOE -"Dynamic-toe" refers to the change in steer-angle of one front-wheel, relative to the other front-wheel, as the steering is turned away from straight-ahead. Dynamic-toe is a function of the steering geometry. At full-lock, dynamic-toe can result in a difference of the two front-wheel steerangles of 10 degrees or more. If the steer-angles of the front-wheels remain equal to each other as they move from straight-ahead to full-lock, then the steering geometry is said to have "parallel-steer". If the front-wheels toe-in relative to each other as they move towards full-lock, then the steering is said to have "dynamic-toe-in". If the front-wheels toe-out relative to each other as they move towards full-lock, then the steering is said to have "dynamic-toe-out". Dynamic-toe-in is often referred to as "negative-, or anti-Ackermann", while dynamic-toe-out is sometimes called "positive-, or pro-Ackermann". The term "Ackermann" doesn't seem to have a universally accepted definition. Figure 3 indicates the "Kinematic Steer-Angles" (KSA) of the front-wheels of a car, as the car rotates around various "Instant Centres". Note that these angles don't refer to the actual steer-angles of the front-wheels. Rather, they indicate the direction that the centres of the wheelprints are travelling, relative to the centreline of the car, for any specific motion of the car. They can be interpreted as the steer-angles that are required of the front-wheels, so that the axles of the wheels will be pointing directly at the instantaneous centre of the car's motion. The horizontal axis indicates Alpha(Outer), which is the angle between the centreline of the car, and the direction of travel of the outer-wheelprint. The vertical axis indicates Alpha(Inner)-Alpha(Outer), which is the dynamic-toe-out of the inner-wheelprint's direction of travel, relative to the outer-wheelprint's direction of travel. Three curves are shown. The rightmost curve indicates the KSA of the front-wheels when the centre of the rear-axle has zero slip-angle that is, when the Instant Centre lies on an extension of the rear-axleline. This is typical of low speed travel when the horizontal forces on the rear tyres are low, and thus their slip-angles are minimal. The other two curves indicate the KSA of the front-wheels when the centre of the rear-axle has a slipangle of 10 degrees and 30 degrees. This rear-slip-angle is depicted in the graphic. It refers to the direction of travel of the centre of the rear-axle, relative to the centreline of the car. If both rear-wheels are aligned with the centreline of the car, and if there is a significant amount of rear-slip, then the outerrear-wheel will have a slightly smaller slip-angle, and the inner-rear-wheel will have a slightly larger slipangle, than that of the centre of the rear-axle. This would suggest that if the rear-wheels are to run at equal slip-angles, then they should be set-up with some static-toe-in. On the other hand, if the car has some form of rear-steer, such as that available on some production cars, then it is possible for the car to

These effects may be small, but they would suggest that a racecar with some "peak-force-toeout" (in the sense that the inner-wheel reaches peak-force first) would be more stable "at the limit", than a car with"peak-force-toe-in". 3. Transient manoeuvres. During a fast lane-change, as may be necessary during overtaking, or for accident avoidance, a driver will typically turn the steering wheel through a large angle -perhaps half-lock or more. The purpose of the large steering movement is to make the front-wheels yaw the front of the car to one side as quickly as possible. It is only when the car has a yaw angle to its direction of travel that its rear-wheels can develop a lateral force, and thus push the rear of the car sideways. A steering geometry that generates large dynamic-toe-out angles will cause the inner-wheel of the car to develop a larger steer-angle, and slip-angle, than the outer-wheel, whenever a large steering movement is made, and the car is still travelling straight-ahead (see the "Static-Toe" section, and Figure 2). This large rearwards movement of the inner-wheel's axial-force vector will effectively drag that side of the car backwards, exerting a large yaw moment on the car, thus improving the car's transient responsetimes. 4. Sharp corners. Many racing textbooks advocate steering geometries that are anti-Ackermann, or, for the fence-sitters, parallel-steer. They do so largely because these geometries can be useful on high-speed large-radius (small steer-angle)corners -conditions that apply to many of the top categories of motorsports. There are many categories of racecar that are required to turn sharp corners -trials, autocross, rallycross, hillclimb, Formula SAE/Student, and so on. If such a racecar has a steering geometry that gives parallel-steer, then it will have a dynamic-toe curve that is a horizontal line in Figure 3 (zero toe-change). An anti-Ackermann steering geometry will produce a dynamic-toe curve that is initially horizontal, but then drops below the horizontal axis of Figure 3. A racecar that must turn sharp corners may need well over 10 degrees of dynamic-toe-out to enable its front-wheels to operate at similar slip-angles. If this racecar has parallel-steer then its wheels will be "effectively" toed-in at over 5 degrees per wheel whenever it is turning a sharp corner. If this racecar has anti-Ackermann steering, then its wheels will be "effectively" toed-in even more. We will use the term "effective-toe" to refer to the discrepancy between the KSAs and the actual steerangles. Effective-toe-angles, if measured at each wheel, are equal to the tyre's slip-angles. Since we often don't know the individual front-wheel slip-angles, we can refer to the "effective-total-toe-in" between the two front-wheels as being equal to the KSA Toe-Out (for the car's specific instantaneous motion), minus the actual total-toe-out of the front-wheels (that is, the included angle between the two front-wheels). It might be useful for the reader to conduct a small experiment to clarify the above situation. Adjust the static-toe of your car to its maximum safe extent (leave enough thread in the adjustments to hold the track-rods together). Regardless of whether it is toe-in or toe-out, try to get at least 5 degrees per wheel -that is, at least 10 degrees of toe difference between the two wheels. Now drive the car slowly along a quiet road.

Several things should become apparent. Firstly, the tyres won't like it, and they will protest loudly. Both tyres will initially be operating close to their slip-angle-peaks where there is a lot of real "slip". Secondly, the steering will be "light". Most of each tyre print will be sliding so there will be little self-aligning torque or steering feel. Thirdly, despite the driver's steering efforts, the nose of the car will behave like an overeager puppy trying to sniff every tree either side of the road. One tyre will occasionally get a better grip (due to a change in road surface or wheel loading) and it will push the other tyre over its slipangle peak, thus changing the direction of the car. This experiment is an inexpensive version of the tyre-testing machines that produce the curves of Figure 1. It gives a slow-motion view of the tyres as they are operating close to their slip-angle peaks. The experiment also shows what parallel-steer, or anti-Ackermann, does to the front-wheels of a car whenever it turns a sharp corner. The wheels are forced to run at a large effective-total-toe-in. At least one wheel(typically the outer-wheel) will be close to, or beyond its slip-angle peak, and it will be reluctant to respond to any steering inputs from the driver. The inner-wheel may, in fact, be trying to push the nose of the car out of the corner. If the car has stiff front springs, and if it can corner fast enough, then it may be able to lift the innerfront-wheel off the ground, and stop it from fighting the outer-wheel. Speed and noise will make this fight less obvious, but while both front-wheels are on the ground the anti-Ackermann car won't like sharp corners. STEERING GEOMETRY -The previous sections discussed the vehicle dynamic responses that we might expect from different dynamic-toe behaviours. This section shows how the different dynamic-toe behaviours are generated by different steering geometries. Figure 5 shows the KSA curves of Figure 3 for rear-slip-angles of RS = 0degrees, and RS = 10 degrees. These curves give the "ideal-steer-angles" for the front-wheels, if they were to run at a "front-slip-angle" of FS = 0degrees. To generate a cornering force, the front-wheels must run at a non-zero slip-angle. Two additional curves are shown that indicate the ideal-steer-angles (ISAs) that are required if both front-wheels are to have a front-slip-angle of FS=5 degrees, and there are rear-slip-angles of RS = 0 degrees, and RS = 10 degrees. It can be seen that these two ISA curves are simply the previous two KSA curves translated sideways by the additional front-wheel slip-angle of 5 degrees. The four curves give an indication of the dynamic-toe angles that are required of a steering geometry, so that all four wheels can run at an appropriate slip-angle. The KSA curve of FS = RS = 0 degrees is repeated in Figures 6 to 9 to aid in the comparison of the various steering geometries. This curve is used because it would be the ideal dynamic-toe curve if the car had "ideal" wheels that cornered with zero slip-angle. This curve is also an approximate average of the curves that have practical front and rear-slipangles, on sealed road surfaces. Figure 5 also shows two steering systems typical of beam-axle suspensions. In each case the wheel-hub has a rearward mounted "steer-arm", and the ends of the two steer-arms are connected by a track-rod. The traditional "Ackermann geometry" is shown as "A", where the centrelines of the two steer-arms intersect at the centre of the rear-axle. The second steering geometry, "B", has the steer-arm centrelines intersecting at the wheelbase mid-point. The accompanying curves show the relationship

between the outer-wheel steer-angles, and the dynamic-toe-out of the inner-wheel, for these two geometries. The curves "A" and "B" end (at their top-right) when the track-rod becomes "straight" with the innerwheel steer-arm -that is, the track-rod cannot rotate the inner-wheel-hub any further. A practical fulllock limit would stop the inner-wheel at least 10 degrees before the track-rod goes straight, so that the steering can't jam at full-lock. The curves show that Ackermann geometry, "A", is only an approximation to the KSA curve, and in fact it only gives Kinematic Steer-Angles at zero steer-angle, and at about full-lock (for the given dimensions). For most of the steering range the wheels will be running with an effective-total-toe-in of about 3 to 5 degrees. The second geometry, "B", has the wheels running with an effective-total-toe-out throughout the steering range. A disadvantage of geometry "B" is that it has a lower maximum outer-wheel steer-angle, and thus a larger minimum turning circle than geometry "A". At full-lock the wheels have a lot of toe-out, implying a lot of wheel-scrub during low-speed parking manoeuvres. A compromise geometry somewhere between the two shown, plus some static-toe-in, would give stable toe-in for high-speed large-radius corners, and some effective-toe-out at full-lock, to help the car around hairpins. Figure 6 shows a rack-and-pinion (R&P) steering geometry as typically used on racecars. The R&P and the steer-arms are mounted in front of the front-axle line. Four curves are shown for different angles of the centreline of the steer-arm. The curves end when the R&P runs out of travel, which in this case is +/100 mm from centre. A shorter steer-arm would require less R&P travel. While the steer-arm angle is less than 20 degrees from straight-ahead, the wheels maintain effectivetoe-in throughout the range of steering travel. Only when the steer-arm-to-track-rod joint is moved past 20 degrees (that is, more than 52mm outboard of the king-pin, for the 150mm long steer-arm)do the wheels start to develop effective-toe-out. Even with the "30 degree Steer-Arm" curve (steer-arm-endjoint about 75mm outboard of the king-pin)this toe-out only becomes significant close to full-lock. Figure 7 shows a similar R&P system to Figure 6, but this time the steer-arm angle is kept at straightahead, and the longitudinal location of the R&P, as it is mounted in the chassis, is varied. The curves of Figure 7 are similar to those of Figure 6. A R&P mounted100mm in front of the axle with a steer-arm angle of about 25 degrees, has a similar dynamic-toe curve to a R&P mounted 50mm behind the axle with a steer-arm angle of 0 degrees. The choice of layout depends on packaging issues such as R&P placement in the chassis, versus steer-arm placement within the wheel assembly. An important observation to be made of Figures 5, 6, and 7 is the size of the angle Alpha(T) between the steer-arm and the track-rod, and its effect on the dynamic-toe curve. When Alpha(T) is around 90 degrees there is minimal dynamic-toe change, and the steering geometry approximates parallel-steer. As Alpha(T) becomes more acute, the inner-wheel turns more, and the outer-wheel turns less, for a given linear movement of the track-rod, and the dynamic-toe-out increases. If the steering geometry has rearward facing steer-arms (as in Figure 5),and a rear mounted R&P, the dynamic-toe curves will still behave in a similar manner to that described above. That is, changes to

steer-arm angle and R&P placement that make Alpha(T) more acute (as it is shown in Figure 5) will tend to give more dynamic-toe-out. Often it is not possible to use large steer-arm angles, as in Figure 6,because the brake-disc is in the way. Likewise, it may not be possible to move the R&P behind the front-axle line, as in Figure 7, because of intrusion into the footwell or engine space. Figure 8 shows a steering geometry that may appear more complicated than the previous systems, but it has several advantages. With this layout two "idlers" are mounted either side of the chassis. They are connected via their front-arms to a central-track-rod, and via their rear-arms to outer-track-rods which then connect to the steer-arms. Either of the idlers could be driven by a steering-box, or the centraltrack-rod could be replaced by a R&P and two short track-rods. If the suspension wishbones are long enough, then the two idlers can be merged into a single central idler, suitably driven. One advantage of this layout is that it can improve packaging convenience. The steer-arms can be straight-ahead, and the central-track-rod, or R&P, can be mounted well forward of the front axle line for increased footwell space. Another advantage is that the increased number of angles between the space. Another advantage is that the increased number of angles between the track-rods and the rotating idlers and steer-arms, makes it easier to tailor the shape of the dynamic-toe curve. For example, it takes only a little experimentation to get the dynamic-toe curve to track the KSA curve to within half a degree. The specific layout shown in Figure 8 has the idlers and central-track-rod acting as a parallelogram -that is, both idler-front-arms are always at the same angle. The two acute angles in the "Z-Bar" linkage (idlerrear-arm to outer-track-rod, and outer-track-rod to steer-arm) cause the dynamic-toe curve to rise rapidly during initial steering movement -more rapidly than in any of the previous R&P curves. However, as the idler-rear-arm-to-track-rod angle straightens (for the inner-wheel) the dynamic-toe curve is pulled back down. With some initial static-toe-in, this layout would give stable high-speed cruising and cornering, with responsive turn-in to tighter corners, and negligible wheel scrub during low-speed fulllock manoeuvres. Figure 9 shows two steering linkages that generate asymmetric dynamic-toe curves. These asymmetric curves are suitable for asymmetric racecars, such as those that race on ovals and spend most of the time either going straight, or turning left. The dynamic-toe curves are shown for both Left Steer -that is, the steering-wheel is turned to the left -and Right Steer. Geometry "A" is similar to the example in Figures 6 and 7, that has the R&P100mm in front of the frontaxle line, and has zero steer-arm angles. It differs in that its left-steer-arm is slightly shorter than the right-steer-arm. This change has the effect of rotating the previously symmetric curve clockwise. It also pulls the rightmost end of the curve to the right (more left-steer-arm-angle), and down (less toe-out, or more toe-in). Geometry "B" is similar to the example in Figure 6 with a 10 degree steer-arm-angle (10 degrees on both sides, hence an included angle of 20degrees between the two steer-arms). It differs in that, with the steering straight-ahead, the 20 degree angle is at the left-steer-arm, while the right-steer-arm points straight-ahead. Again, the asymmetry has the effect of rotating the previously symmetric curve clockwise.