Set up a Car in a Racing Simulator

Setting up a car is imperative to racing. It can be worth several seconds a lap and can help with things like tire management, top speed, car handling just to name a few. By learning what settings are available and their effects, you can hopefully maximize the performance of any given car and suit it to your driving style.



  1. Understand key terms. Of these are "oversteer" and "understeer".
    • Oversteer occurs when the rear wheels have less grip and the front wheels have more grip. This causes the rear of the car to swing the car as it loses grip as shown.
    • Understeer occurs when the front wheels have less grip and the rear wheels have more grip. This causes the front of the car to drag the car to the outside of the corner as it loses grip.
    • A good set up balances understeer (excessive stability) with oversteer (excessive maneuverability) to create a car that reacts neutrally to driver inputs. Where a car experiences this is also important, whether it's in the entry, middle, or exit of the corner. Learn to recognise corner entry under/oversteer, mid-corner under/oversteer, and corner exit under/oversteer.
  2. Do preliminary work for set up. Do a few casual laps to get a feel for the car's characteristics as well as the track. Keep a mental note of any issues you face
    • For example you may experience a bumpy ride, a lot of corner understeer, or a darty turn-in. The more feedback you can keep track of, the better.
  3. Set up bigger changes. The best way to approach set up is to change things that have the biggest impact on the car so that they have the smallest impacts. This is to set a general direction and then fine tune with the other options.
  4. Pay attention to spring rates. Spring rates refers to the stiffness or softness of the shocks on the car. Setting the springs harder makes it "fast" to react as shown in this image. Take note of how the stiffness makes the car react to every bump on the road.
    • Notice how the same car (same corners but softer suspension) makes it react "slower" and roll around more.
    • Which end of the car you make stiff (quick) or soft (slow) will determine the balance of the car. Making the front stiff will make it understeer and making the rear stiff will make it oversteer.
  5. Know the role of anti roll bars. These come into play in mid-corner balance. Setting one end of the car soft will create better compliance over bumps but will cause the car to hit the ground as it wallows around in corners. This may require you to raise the ride height.
    • Setting one end of the car stiff will increase stiffness, making it more reactive. This also decreases the chances of the car hitting the ground in cornering, allowing you to run the car closer to the ground.
  6. Know what the role of the brake bias is. This affects the behaviour of the car under heavy braking. If you have the brake bias set too far up the front wheels, it will create more stability under heavy braking but will create understeer as the car may not want to rotate into a corner. If you have the brake bias set too far rear, it will allow you to turn into a corner better under braking but if it's set too far rearward, it may prompt the car to spin. As shown below, the force of breaking being more rearward causes it to pivot around the rear allowing it to spin.
  7. Know the differential allows the wheels to move at different speeds when going around a corner. When you increase the locking amount you decrease the difference at which both wheels can spin. A higher number means the wheels can't spin as freely and creates more understeer a lower number means the wheels can spin at totally different speeds and creates more oversteer.
    • Diff power - Represents the car under acceleration and how much difference in wheel speed it allows.
    • Diff coast - Represents the car under deceleration and how much difference in wheel speed it allows.
  8. Increase bump as needed. This stops the compression movement of the springs. Increasing bump on the front increases maneuverability but may result in understeer if set too high and at the rear will also make it maneuverable but will make it very susceptible to sudden oversteer.
  9. Increase rebound as needed. This stops the expansion movement of the springs. Increasing rebound on the front increases stability on fast direction changes of the car and on acceleration but can create understeer and increasing it on the rear decreases turn instability but balances out by having great corner exit stability.

Fine Tuning Changes

  1. Change the ride height. Keep the car as close to the ground as possible without it hitting the ground, as it generally makes you faster. If it does hit the ground, the car will jump around. Experiment and find the correct height for the car and track. That being said, there is some effect on handling within the relation between front and rear ride height although small.
    • Having a higher front than the rear will have less understeer. Having a lower front than the rear will have less oversteer.
    • Use alignment to maximise the surface area of the tyre on the ground.
  2. Have some negative camber. Camber is the angle of the tire to its upright position. There is never any reason ever to have positive camber. You want some negative camber so as the car rolls onto the tire in a corner, it pushes the whole tire onto the surface. On your tire temperature feature, the aim is to get the tire temperature difference between the outside and inside within 10°. Below is an example of a tire with too much negative camber resulting a massive difference between the outside and inside of certain tires.
    • Decrease toe at the front to have a more maneuverable front and increase toe at the back for stability. It's best to keep these at 0 as any other values will create tire wear since the tires aren't moving straight but these are good to fine-tune tune if other options don't work.
  3. Find a balance of wing angle. Wings create downforce which pushes your car into the track for more grip but with downforce comes drag that slows down your car. You need to find a balance of wing angle to help you in the corners without slowing you down on the straights.
    • Front wing have little effect on drag. Increase as much as necessary to suit your driving style. The rear wing acts as a sail at high speeds, slowing you down. Increase wing angle to find the right balance of grip in corners where the wing will push into the ground and the straights where it will slow you down. As show in the image below, with the same gear set up, aero changes can account for a high difference in speed making the difference between 1st and 2nd.
  4. Check gearing. Take your car down the longest straight of the track. If your car is hitting the rev limiter you need to increase the gearing so that it's not limited.
    • If your car is not even close to the red line in the highest gear you may need to decrease the gearing. The goal is to have it close to the redline at the end of the straight.
  5. Use the tire temperature reader. Every racing simulator has a tire temperature reader. It's imperative that you use this feature to make sense of the info below:
    • Tire compounds - Softer rubber grips the track better but wears out faster due to heat from friction. If you're doing a long race you may want to choose a harder compound of rubber but for a short lap, a soft set may do fine.
    • Tire pressure - A tire with less pressure will be softer and more malleable on the road surface and give more traction but will heat up faster due to friction. A harder tire will be less malleable and give less traction but last longer due to less heat. Find a good balance between tire life and grip.
  6. Calculate how much fuel you will need. Take as many laps as you can with 1 unit of fuel to calculate how much you may need for a race. Carrying around extra fuel adds weight and slows you down. Too little, and you may not finish.


  • Car set up is not a substitute for poor driving techniques. Familiarise yourself with proper racing techniques.
  • This guide is for grip driving. Rally and drifting have different goals and as such different approaches
  • Changes are holistic. One change affects multiple areas. Change one variable at a time and at one unit at a time
  • Set ups vary from track to track. A track with few corners and long straights have different requirements than a track with many corners and short straights
  • Set ups vary from car to track. A front wheel drive car may be more stable but prone to understeer. A rear engine car may have better acceleration due to be weight being over the driven wheels, but may suffer from oversteer