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Discussion Starter #1
so my 97 awd rav4 understeers like a *******, on road and in the dirt. i dont want to lower if i dont have to as i drive country roads every day to get to and from the highway, and i want to get into some rally-x stuff eventually. has anyone ever addressed the understeer issue on these things?
 

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It does under steer like a cow. But somehow if you flick it, the back will slide a bit, just a bit, getting you at an angle, if you floor it right ahead it will grip til the exit of the turn. Mine's a 96 3dr running on stock 215x18x60 tires and KYB replacement shocks with stock springs. The small wheel base helps a lot on those "flicking" moments. But that flicking thing is just for slow to mid sections, if you're doing 80kmh+ on a turn, then flicking it would be dangerous.

On long 100-120kmh+ sections, you will really shave your front tires easily. it suffers a lot on high speed sections. The trick is to go slow out-out, in fast, out. The tires will squeel while exiting but at least you got the grip taking off on mid turns.

The rav's awd helps on the slow-mid sections, The back helps it push forward once at an angle. (under powered not enough torque to slide) But on high speed sections, it acts like a FWD car. You can barely feel the back.

If you don't mind I'll share my experience on a track. It was my first time but I was able to do few experiments to it on turns. Here - http://www.rav4world.com/forums/83-4-1-general/221697-my-experience-circuit-racing-rav4-1-a.html
 

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Discussion Starter #3
thanks! im hoping theres some weight distribution or suspension/steering geometry answer to the godawful understeer, but probably doesnt help that im running 235/70r16s in a gravel tire (soft knobby tread) but even in the dirt i notice it always wants to understeer a lot
 

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Also may I add, I removed the back seats during those laps, that's why the weight is something like 80-20 that the back snaps easily. With the seats on, it's 70-30.

If you want to play with how it angles, try and retro fit some thinner sway bars, or remove them completely so the front suspensions will travel individually. Also since, Ravs are mostly biased in front, you might wanna put some skinnier tires on the back. Those might answer your problem to under steers for the mean time.
 

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My opinion is the std settings are not great, especially for something that understeers like this. I have done most of this and it still understeers, so probably needs playing around with roll bars.
Another idea for loose surfaces, is locking the diff? Unless you have an auto g/box.

Rear - reduce negative camber, to minimum factory, certainly no more than half a degree negative.
Reduce rear toe to factory minimum.

Front - aim for half to one degree negative camber, depending on your driving style, as too much straight line running can wear inner tire edges. But if you're driving hard on the bends, go for a full one degree negative camber.
It could really do with more caster, however this is very hard to do. Either the strut top mount needs moving rearwards, or the suspension arm needs modifying to move the hub/wheel forward.

My caster is near the factory minimum so my steering feels terrible. You can get some adjustable top monts for other Toyota models that I think will work, but there's not a lot of movement left before the tire gets close to the rear of your arch, better moving the bottom forward.

I have some poly bushes, as I think reducing the slop in the std, worn bushes should help.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
i actually want to go heavier on the front swaybar and add a rear, as well as some puly-u bushings and upgrade the control arms and such. id like more overall travel, but flatter handling, might negate some of the understeer, i want to run a little more camber, adjustable top plates and control arms for starters in the front and make my lca's fully adjustable in the rear, play around with it a bit i guess. i suppose the main thing is the fact that the front has most of the weight, and the whole car weighs next to bugger all hahaha love how light this thing is, its a blessing and a curse.
 

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Controlling understeer is all about adding/stiffening a rear swaybar. Anything you do to stiffen front sway bar will make you understeer more.
 
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