How vehicle weight distribution affects handling

You may be familiar with the terms 40/60 or 50/50 vehicle weight distribution. These indicate the percentage of the vehicle’s weight over the front and rear wheels.

If a vehicle brakes going into a corner, there is less weight over the rear wheels. This is because the weight of the vehicle moves towards the front and this can cause the back of the vehicle to lose traction. In turn, this could cause the rear of the vehicle to slide outward during cornering.



With acceleration, the weight travels to the rear of the vehicle which reduces the grip of the front wheels. This reduces the vehicle’s ability to steer as it accelerates out of a corner, or in the case of a front wheel drive vehicle, completely removes its ability to accelerate.

But how does weight distribution affect this? Read on to find out.

Weight distribution bias

If a vehicle has a 40/60 weight distribution to the rear, it can brake later and harder into a corner. This is because weight moves towards the front of the vehicle as braking takes place.

This gives the vehicle close to 50/50 distribution and means all tyres now have equal grip on the ground and can brake evenly. This explains why most performance cars are rear engined, as it is the heaviest part of a car.

When this type of vehicle accelerates out of a corner, the weight will balance even more to the rear, allowing the vehicle to accelerate harder but less grip for the wheels to steer.

How to ensure vehicle distribution is right

To work out weight distribution, car makers and engineers use axle weigh pads.

These scales sit underneath each tyre and weigh the individual corner weight. This is then calculated into overall weight and weight distribution. From here, the engineer can calculate the correct physics of the car and handling.

The Marsden AP-100 pads have a 5000kg capacity and are strong, tough and hard-wearing - ideal for weighing cars, vans and lorries. The axle pads feature a 25mm LCD display and are powered by 6x AAA batteries.

Alternatively, the Marsden AP-200 Axle Weigher can weigh up to 20,000kg per axle. It comes with an integrated printer and touchscreen indicator. It also has USB and RS-232 ports meaning the scale can be connected to a PC for data transfer.

For more information about our scales and how to weigh your vehicle, call 01709 364296 or contact us here.

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