1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

The effect of mass distribution on acceleration of a car.

  1. Jul 15, 2012 #1


    User Avatar

    Hi, I am amidst writing my 4k word high school physics paper (IB extended essay) and am in need of some help/guidance.

    The experiment I am conducting is as stated above. I have been changing the distribution of a set of masses from front, middle and rear on a model car and recording changes in acceleration. I have also conducted this procedure on the same model with 4WD, FWD and RWD sources of drive.

    2. Relevant equations
    As this is a very long paper, I will need to get into the theory behind the experiment. Therefore, my question is; what is the theory behind the forces and moments acting on the wheels of a car during acceleration.
    If there are any other aspects of physics I could possibly explore, please let me now. :)

    3. The attempt at a solution

    I have tried finding articles on the net to no avail, therefore any help or even links/sources would be extremely helpful.

    Thanks in advance
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

  4. Jul 15, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    The force that accelerates the center of mass of the car is the friction (traction) force between the driving tires and the road. The greater the available static friction force, where Ff_max = uN, the greater will be the acceleration, since F_net = ma. The friction force is maximized when the normal force, N, between the driving tires and the road, is the highest. Racing cars almost always use RWD, because when the car accelerates, it tends to lift up the front wheels and put greater normal force on the back wheels, due to the friction force moment about the center of mass. You might want to run a few numbers to see how varying mass distribution affects the maximum possible acceleration. Be sure to sum moments about the center of mass when doing so, or if you use the concept of a pseudo force 'ma' acting rearward through the c.o.m., you can sum moments about any point, if you are familiar with that concept.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: The effect of mass distribution on acceleration of a car.
  1. Acceleration of car (Replies: 10)