Resistance to the movement of a vehicle: super-easy guide

If you are a motor racing fan or have seen the broadcasts of Formula 1 competitions, you will surely know how important it is to know the resistance to movement of a vehicle .

The point is that this is not something that only affects competitive sport, but has a direct impact on the performance of your car .

We refer, of course, to fuel consumption, cornering stability, stopping distance, etc.

The better you know what factors create resistance to the vehicle, the more you can get out of it and the better your driving style will be.

Let’s start with the basics.

What are the resistance to advance of a vehicle?

The advancement of a vehicle is achieved thanks to the operation of the transmission system that joins the engine with the wheel axles.

However, this advance has to constantly face multiple forces or resistance:

  • Rolling resistance.
  • Air resistance.
  • Resistance to mechanical friction.
  • Inertial resistance.
  • Slope resistance.

Rolling resistance

Rolling resistance is also known as rolling friction and occurs when the tire rolls on a flat surface in a straight line.

This resistance is produced by the deformation of the tire and, where appropriate, the surface on which it is rolled.

However, there are many factors that influence what is known as the coefficient of rolling resistance: the speed at which you are traveling, the weight of the vehicle, the grip of the surface, as well as the radius, the material and the wheel pressure.

What you should take into account in your day to day:

Remember that the pressure of the tires and their good state of conservation, the load you carry in the car and the terrain you are traveling through influence rolling resistance.

Adapt your driving to those conditions.

Aerodynamic resistance

Aerodynamic drag is the opposite force exerted by the air when your car is in motion. That is, the force that opposes the advance of your vehicle through the air.

This resistance depends on the size and exterior shape of the vehicle, the speed at which it is traveling, the density of the air and, of course, the direction and strength of the wind.

The famous wind tunnels are used to calculate the drag coefficient of different car models.

As a general rule, this coefficient is between 0.20 and 0.40, in the case of series production vehicles.

What you should take into account in your day to day:

Vehicles with an open cargo bed can have up to 30% more fuel consumption compared to those with a closed cargo bed.

On the other hand, both when you are driving in a strong wind, as when you change your usual car for a larger vehicle, you will notice a greater aerodynamic resistance that will influence the behavior of the vehicle.

Mechanical friction resistance

The resistance of mechanical friction is one of the least taken into account by drivers. However, it greatly affects the performance generated by the engine.

This resistance is due to friction between engine and transmission parts.

For this reason, it is so important to make sure the engine is properly lubricated at all times.

If you want to know more details about the importance of oil levels in your car, and other reasons for the loss of power, we recommend you read:

Inertia resistance

Paradoxically, the inertia of your vehicle can also be a drag.

This is because inertia is that property that a body has –including your car- to remain in its state, whether of rest or movement.

That is, when you are traveling at a certain speed and you want to accelerate, it is necessary that the force generated by the motor overcome the resistance of inertia.

When you need to carry out a maneuver that involves accelerating speed in a short time, remember that the current inertia of the vehicle is a resistance, so you will have to press the accelerator with more force than when you are increasing the speed in a more progressive way.

Slope resistance

Resistance due to slope occurs when you drive uphill in your car.

The opposing force that is generated is directly proportional to the weight of the vehicle and the angle of the slope.

Whenever riding on steep slopes, be sure to engage a proper gear well ahead of time to prevent the engine from stalling.

Also, it is advisable to avoid changing gears too frequently, unless the angle of the incline also varies.

Finally, remember that the load you carry in the car will affect the resistance per slope. Don’t be caught off guard!

Great! You already know which ones with the different resistance to movement of a vehicle.

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