Vehicle Dynamics for Passenger Cars and Light Trucks

This e-Seminar presents an introduction to vehicle dynamics from a vehicle system perspective. The theory and applications are associated with the interaction and performance balance between the powertrain, brakes, steering, suspensions and wheel and tire vehicle subsystems. The role that vehicle dynamics can and should play in effective automotive chassis development and the information and technology flow from vehicle system to subsystem to piece-part is integrated into the presentation.

Dr. Richard Lundstrom develops and solves governing equations of motion for both steady and transient conditions. He presents manual and computer techniques for analysis and evaluation. Vehicle system dynamic performance in the areas of drive-off, braking, directional control and rollover is emphasized. The dynamics of the powertrain, brakes, steering, suspension and wheel and tire subsystems and their interactions are examined along with the important role of structure and structural parameters related to vehicle dynamics. Physical experiments applicable to vehicle dynamics are also introduced.

Based on the popular classroom seminar, this course offers nearly fifteen hours of instruction and simulations divided into nineteen modules; the book, The Automotive Chassis: Engineering Principles by Reimpell, Stoll and Betzler; a coordinated handbook that includes a resource guide and SAE papers and paper collections.

What Will You Learn

By participating in this course, you will be able to:
  • Summarize how vehicle dynamics is related to the voice of the customer
  • Identify important vehicle system parameters useful for effective application of vehicle dynamics to chassis development
  • List and explain parameters that effect vehicle performance relative to drive-off, braking, directional control and rollover
  • Identify physical measurements needed to effectively apply vehicle dynamics to passenger cars and light trucks
  • Define the value of vehicle dynamics simulation in the development and evaluation of vehicles
  • Explain the balance required between ride, directional control and rollover and the essential process for this balance to be obtained for marketplace vehicles

Course Information

15.00 Hours
90 Days

Is This Course For You

This e-Seminar is intended for automotive engineers and quality professionals who work in product design, testing, quality, process or development.

This course has been approved by the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR) for 18 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Upon completion of this seminar, accredited reconstructionists should mail a copy of their course certificate and the $5 student CEU fee to ACTAR, PO Box 1493, North Platte, NE 69103.


This course satisfies a requirement in both the Vehicle Dynamics and Accident Reconstruction Certificate Programs.

Have colleagues who need this course? See Special Offers to the right.

Click on the Requirements tab to make sure you are properly equipped to interact with this course.

Materials Provided

  • 90 days of online single-user access (from date of purchase) to the 15 hour course
  • Links to streaming video modules
  • Course handbook (downloadable, .pdf's) including the SAE Papers:
    • 970091
    • SP-355
    • 760713
    • 760710
  • The eBook, The Automotive Chassis: Engineering Principles by Reimpell, Stoll and Betzler (downloadable through My Library)
  • Instructor follow up to your content questions
  • 1.5 CEUs*/Certificate of Achievement (upon completion of all course content and a score of 70% or higher on the learning assessment)

*SAE International is authorized by IACET to offer CEUs for this course.


Course Requirements

  • Windows 7, 8, 10 (other operating systems and mobile platforms are not supported but may work)
  • Internet Explorer 11, Mozilla Firefox 37 , Google Chrome 42 (other browsers are not supported)
  • Broadband-1Mbps minimum


Click on each topic for an expanded view.
  • Vehicle Dynamics: Introduction[Total Run Time: 43 minutes]
    • Define vehicle dynamics
    • Describe the popular vehicle dynamics coordinate systems
    • Define the essential vehicle system elements
    • Explain the difference between parameters and metrics
    • List the major vehicle dynamics attributes
  • Drive-Off Dynamics: Introduction and Vehicle Resistances[Total Run Time: 1 hour, 6 minutes]
    • Define the vehicle dynamics acceleration attribute
    • Identify the vehicle anatomy areas to which acceleration dynamics applies
    • Calculate powertrain efficiency as a function of percent throttle
    • Describe the purpose for the rotational inertia coefficient
    • Graph the primary acceleration resistances
  • Drive-Off Dynamics: Vehicle Characteristics and Powertrain Matching[Total Run Time: 30 minutes]
    • Describe tire-road adhesion for acceleration
    • Graph vehicle system tractive effort requirements
    • Compare internal combustion engine torque characteristics to tractive effort requirements
    • Graph a powertrain gear selection diagram
    • Outline a process for matching powertrain to the vehicle system
  • Drive-Off Dynamics: Tire Patch Forces and Performance Prediction [Total Run Time: 37 minutes]
    • Calculate the rigid model tire patch forces during acceleration
    • Calculate the elementary engine model parameters used in estimating vehicle system acceleration
    • Outline a process for estimating elapsed time and distance during acceleration
    • Describe the relationship between elapsed time, distance traveled and fuel consumption during acceleration
    • Calculate required parameters and metrics to complete the drive-off workshop
  • Braking Dynamics: Introduction and Balance Characteristics [Total Run Time: 1 hour, 26 minutes]
    • Define the braking dynamics attribute
    • Identify the vehicle anatomy areas to which braking dynamics applies
    • Describe the acceleration of a vehicle versus time during a stopping event
    • Calculate tire patch forces during braking
    • Calculate and graph the balanced brake force distribution
  • Braking Dynamics: Tire/Wheel Limits, Efficiency, and Performance [Total Run Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes]
    • Describe tire-road adhesion for braking
    • Calculate the tire road adhesion coefficient limit for braking
    • Define the balanced and fixed braking ratios
    • Define front and rear brake bias
    • Calculate braking efficiency and braking acceleration
  • Ride Dynamics: Introduction[Total Run Time: 1 hour, 6 minutes]
    • Define the ride dynamics attribute
    • Describe the focus on customer needs and engineering metrics relationships for ride dynamics
    • Identify the vehicle anatomy areas to which ride dynamics applies
    • Describe how the road surface and vehicle create a disturbance with frequency content
    • Specify values for vehicle system frequency metrics
  • Ride Dynamics: Quarter Vehicle Dynamic Model[Total Run Time: 24 minutes]
    • Describe the quarter vehicle dynamic model
    • Calculate and locate the sprung and unsprung weights at the axle planes
    • Describe suspension corner springing
    • Describe suspension corner damping
    • Select a tire-wheel system vertical spring rate
  • Ride Dynamics: Parameter Estimation [Total Run Time: 1 hour]
    • Calculate suspension ride rates
    • Calculate suspension rates
    • Calculate ride range spring rates
    • Describe the vehicle system to piece part information flow for estimating suspension spring rates
    • Describe the pitch plane model
  • Ride Dynamics: Wheel Motion and Secondary Ride[Total Run Time: 1 hour, 3 minutes]
    • Locate front and rear pitch poles
    • Describe the relationship between caster gain and harshness management
    • Calculate front axle anti-dive and rear axle anti-lift during braking
    • Specify the preferred body pitch axis location
    • Locate the body pitch axis
  • Ride Dynamics: Summary[Total Run Time: 16 minutes]
    • Choose ride parameters and metrics consistent with workshop vehicle
    • Calculate the required parameters and metric values for primary ride
    • Specify the wheel motion requirements for harshness
    • Locate the preferred body pitch axis
    • Write an overview for primary ride
  • "Low Speed" Steering Dynamics: Introduction and Steering Geometry[Total Run Time: 1 hour, 4 minutes]
    • Define the "low speed" steering attribute
    • Describe focus on customer needs and engineering metrics relationships for low speed steering
    • Identify vehicle anatomy areas to which low speed steering applies
    • Describe steering axis geometry
    • Define kinematic steering ratio and typical values
  • "Low Speed" Steering Dynamics: Turning Circle[Total Run Time: 28 minutes]
    • Define Ackermann steering geometry
    • Calculate the outside front road wheel steering angle for 100% Ackermann
    • Calculate steering deviation
    • Calculate percent Ackermann
    • Calculate curb-to-curb turning circle for workshop vehicle
  • "High Speed" Steering Dynamics: Introduction[Total Run Time: 1 hour, 16 minutes]
    • Define the "high speed" steering dynamics attribute
    • Describe focus on customer needs and engineering metrics relationships for high speed steering dynamics
    • Describe the lateral force generated at the tire contact patch
    • Describe the physics of turning
    • Define lateral weight transfer
  • "High Speed" Steering Dynamics: Tire Forces and Characteristics[Total Run Time: 30 minutes]
    • Calculate rigid body vehicle tire patch forces during steady cornering
    • Describe tire lateral force versus slip angle characteristics
    • Describe tire self aligning torque characteristics
    • Describe the relationship between tire lateral force and vertical load
    • Predict the friction circle for a specific vehicle
  • "High Speed" Steering Dynamics: Cornering Compliance and Body Roll[Total Run Time: 50 minutes]
    • Describe the steady cornering equation in terms of cornering compliance
    • Define understeer and understeer gradient
    • Calculate lateral acceleration gain for a sports sedan for steady cornering at 0.3g
    • Describe understeer gradient as a function of vehicle weight distribution and tire cornering stiffness
    • Calculate front and rear axle roll stiffness for a specific vehicle
  • "High Speed" Steering Dynamics: Understeer Gradient - Rigid Body Contributions[Total Run Time: 22 minutes]
    • Define rigid body considerations incorporated in the understeer gradient
    • Define camber kinematics related to camber steer
    • Describe how camber thrust is incorporated in the understeer gradient
    • Describe how to calculate effect of aligning torque on the understeer gradient
    • Describe how to calculate the effect of steering system compliance on the understeer gradient
  • "High Speed" Steering Dynamics: Understeer Gradient - K & C Contributions[Total Run Time: 28 minutes]
    • Describe how to locate the kinematic roll center for a specific suspension
    • Describe how the kinematic roll gain is related to the cornering compliance
    • Predict the lateral force compliance steer for a multi-link strut rear suspension
    • Calculate the lateral weight transfer including the effect of body roll
    • Calculate the lateral acceleration which will cause impending lift off of an inside tire including the effect of body roll
  • "High Speed" Steering Dynamics: Transient Cornering Response[Total Run Time: 17 minutes]