Frictional circle, circle of forces, traction circle, or friction ellipse is the graphical representation of the various loads a tire has to deal with.
It is a meaningful way to think over the dynamic interaction between the vehicle’s tire and the road surface. A tire can generate horizontal force where it meets the road surface by the mechanism of slip. Please note that this Force is perpendicular to the plane of the tire that is because the tire is rolling freely with no torque applied to it by the vehicle's brakes or drive terrain. However, this might not always be the case. If a tire makes use of its entire grip it has for acceleration and braking there will be none left for cornering and vice – versa. A good driver merger braking with cornering and accelerates smoothly, thereby increasing the available traction. The friction circle also helps drivers improve their cornering performance by showing them where can the improvements be made. The diameter of the circle of forces and thereby the maximum horizontal force it can generate is affected by many things including the design of the tire and its condition (the age and the temperature, for example), the condition of the road surface, and the vertical load on the tire. The magnitude of F is limited by the dashed circle, but it could have been any combination of the components Fx and Fy which does not exceed the dashed circle. Note that there is also a small component of force in the negative direction of the y – axis (Fy) which represents drag that will, if it is not countered by any other force, cause the vehicle to retard. Drag of this kind is an unavoidable effect of the mechanism of slip due to which the tire generates lateral force.
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