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Handling In High Crosswinds



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Yesterday I made a 450 mile trip from Dover, Delaware to Alden, NY. The trip is high-speed interstate virtually all the way, and I was driving in very high crosswinds while Northbound through Eastern PA and the I-81 corridor in NY from Binghamton to Syracuse. At least twice, I was blown completely out of my lane, fortunately while there was nobody trying to pass me. I don't know what the speeds of the crosswinds were.

Does anyone have any idea how this could be minimized? Would a strut brace help? Comments please!

A strut brace will not help in that case - it only sharpens the steering of the vehicle in heavy cornering by stiffening the chassis. The only things that could help out(without buying a new car) are lowering the car (reducing how much air moved under the chassis), adding more weight, and adding aero body cladding.

Adding more weight - doesn't make sense with trying to be more conservative with fuel economy and keeping maintenance/operating cost low. Lower the suspension - even an inch - can have a marked affect on drivability in a heavy crosswind. Aero add-ons - like a chin spoiler and rear trunklid spoiler - can also help reduce the affects of crosswinds.

Some would also add bigger tires and wheels - though on my 8th gen Corolla - didn't notice much difference. But dropping it with TRD springs did. Adding aero bits will have a similar effect to lowering the car - while retaining more ground clearance. By helping reduce lift on both ends - you reduce the tendancy of winds blowing you around on the road.

Not a whole lot you can do - past that. In my 2003 Matrix - tracks very well on the highway - but crosswinds on the order of 10s of MPH can blow you around unconfortably. Even before I dropped the 2002 Corolla - it always tracked better in high wind conditions than the Matrix - one of the reasons why I take the Corolla over the Matrix on long distance trips.

Real good advice on the above post.

I drive about 150 miles every day getting to and from work, mostly highway miles. When gas prices were lower and I had my Silverado I used to draft behind the 18-wheelers all the time. If you think crosswinds are bad, try drafting an 18-wheeler in your Corolla. Man, I felt like I was driving in the middle of a tornado.

I would like to add that the problem has diminished some since getting rid of the stock Goodyear Integrity tires. I moved from the stock 185/65/15 to 195/60/15.

I will be dropping the car somewhere between 1 and 2 inches in the upcoming couple of months to try to get an even better highway feel. I am still researching drop springs, their rates, and their effects on the stock struts.

i HATE passing large trucks at highway speed in the prizm, i get blown sideways a little bit by them and crosswinds are horrible! its such a little tincan of a car is why. theres no weight to hold it to the road!

Better tires will help. The car is a light weight. Not really a whole lot you can do.

I'm glad I'm not the only one with this wind problem. Today my car was being blown almost out of its lane by cross wind. On the day the wind was at around 35-40 mph, and I was sitting in traffic, I could really feel the car getting blown and shaking alot. I was afraid the wind was gonna tip my car over sideways.

We have an '03 Echo and I haven't driven it on the highway since being blown into the next lane last year. Our Corolla isn't as bad and haven't had a windy day yet to try the wider tires out. I'm wondering if it would actually help (although a nuisance) to roll the windows down if you know the crosswinds are going to be real bad??

Lowering my 05 on TRD springs helped a lot, and replacing the old tires finished it off. I'm riding on 225/45-17's now and the difference is night and day. Highway driving is no longer nerve-wracking, 75 feels just as steady as 45, its a pleasure to drive on the highway now. The new tires tramline a bit more, and very severe bumps are worse, but as long as you keep both hands on the wheel and concentrate on driving, its fine.

Yesterday I made the return trip from Alden, NY back to Dover, DE. Crosswinds were still bad, but not as big a problem as on the trip up. This time I was mainly affected by the horrible condition of the roadway on the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike. From the start at the NY/PA line, straight down to Philadelphia, the road was a third-world washboard. In a lot of places, I had to reduce my speed down as low as 60 MPH just to keep my teeth in my mouth.

One cheap trick I tried was to adjust my tire pressures. I blew my tires up pretty firm, 38 PSI all around, before leaving, thinking it would yield better fuel economy. Well, it sure did, but I also believe that by reducing the contact area of the tires by making the tire harder, I was also losing controllability and increasing ride harshness. So I reduced pressures back down to 35 PSI, and that seemed to have a noticeable effect.

Replies to this thread have been quite informative, I had little doubt that other Corolla owners were affected by this problem. I guess the Corolla just isn't a highway cruiser. It sure isn't a fun ride in windy, mountainous areas with lots of high bridges, constant ridge-running, and rough, broken-up pavement!

My Corolla's highway manners are a mess, too. Even new tires (Bridgestone Turanza LS-T, 195/60/15) didn't help much. I blew all over the road on the way to St. Louis and back a couple weekends ago.

Worn suspention can cause problems. Right now I'm running Michelin Pilot Primacy 195-55-16s and I drove 70MPH in some strong winds yesterday in a 05 and I didn't have any problems. You gotta hold the wheel a little tighter, but I've had to do that with any car I've ever driven in high winds.

I've never been blown out of my lane. Slowing down can help, but if winds are strong enought to blow your car accross the road, you probably shouldn't be on the road.

The CE 185 tire is unsafe tho. I've been in a CE rental and the ride sucks without wind. So, if you have a CE with tiny tires, then upgrading will help out a bit.

My 7th generation Corolla must be heavier, since it holds the road pretty well. I have been in windy driving on the highway which caused me to hold the steering wheel a little tighter. At times it felt like the car was flying (I usually do 80, regardless of winds) and very nimble. I don't have any problem with lots of wind, but I can relate to the bad roads. We have them in CA as well. The potholes have been getting much worse with all the rain, lately.

I notice crosswinds in my 9th gen more than my 8th gen. In a moderately stiff breeze I can feel the car jiggling about but even in a gale I haven't been blown completely out of my lane. My owners handbook stipulates that if one is experiencing crosswind difficulty, one should slow down.

I "assume" that the S model (latest generation Corolla) which has a lower body profile due to the front and side cladding would be superior to the regular model corolla. IS this an accurate statement, and have any owners driven both models in the wind?

Also, fishexpo101, what is the tire/wheel size that you went from and then went to that did not make a difference? I am surprised to read this since it is counter to others experience. ( I respect your experience with the corolla, ...just askin)

Thanks

I "assume" that the S model (latest generation Corolla) which has a lower body profile due to the front and side cladding would be superior to the regular model corolla. IS this an accurate statement, and have any owners driven both models in the wind?

Also, fishexpo101, what is the tire/wheel size that you went from and then went to that did not make a difference? I am surprised to read this since it is counter to others experience. ( I respect your experience with the corolla, ...just askin)

Thanks

That is not an accurate statement by any means. In the real world, there is no difference between my friends 'S' and my 'LE' driving in cross winds, the cladding does nothing but look (good or bad is your opinion). From a physics standpoint the 'S' would sway more in cross winds. The tires being the same on both cars, the 'S' model's cladding gives the car a greater surface area for the wind to push on and therefore makes the car easier to push. However, this difference in surface area is so small that you would never feel it while driving.

What makes the 'LE' and 'S' handle better in cross winds than the 'CE' is the tires. 195/65/R15 tires are better at resisting lateral motion than 185/65/R15 tires are. The XRS should be on par (actually slightly better) with the 'LE' and 'S' since it has tires similar in size to the 'S' and 'LE'. The slightly better comes from the tighter suspension, which allows for better handling, but results in a harsher everyday ride.

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Good point, 99. The XRS should do a little better than the other models. It's riding on 195/55/16s and has a tighter suspension.

I "assume" that the S model (latest generation Corolla) which has a lower body profile due to the front and side cladding would be superior to the regular model corolla. IS this an accurate statement, and have any owners driven both models in the wind?

Also, fishexpo101, what is the tire/wheel size that you went from and then went to that did not make a difference? I am surprised to read this since it is counter to others experience. ( I respect your experience with the corolla, ...just askin)

Thanks

I've driven a 7th gen Corolla LE, 8th Gen Corolla S (still own), 9th gen Corolla CE, and 1st gen? Matrix XRS (own today) - the 9th gen Corolla/Matrix are more susceptible to wind than the other two. But had nothing to do with the body cladding. Like the99coutour mentioned - only visual addon, no aero benefit. So much for the touted "aero" addons built in the newer generation of Corolla/Matrix (under body shielding, trim around glass, etc.)

 

The Matrix I could see - with the minivan-like exterior - acts like a sail in the wind - but the 9th gen Corolla was a bit surprising at first, but completely understandable. Blown around a bit more - even though it is slightly heavier, a hair wider, and has a longer wheelbase than the model it replaced, there is also in increase in ground clearance (inch higher)and overall height (~ 3 inches) on the 9th gen body.

As for the Corolla - I ran OEM Goodyears in the 185/65R14 sized tires - did pretty well, just no traction to speak of. Ran 205/45R16 Kuhmo and Yokohama (PLUS +2) - cornering improved immensily - but tracking on the highway with wind didn't seem to improve, surprisingly. Went to a 195/60R14 with Yokohama tires (PLUS +0) - tracking was marginally worse that the 16" wheels. Tried them both with the TRD springs - tracking was markedly improved - but with the bigger tires, it added the complication of tramlining over rougher surfaces (tendancy to follow ruts and imperfections on the road surface).

I do recommend that one should replace the OEM tires with better tires, at the very least. My case with my 8th gen may not have been the ideal example - since the changes were done over a period of several 10s of thousands of miles - normal suspension wear could have accounted for my experience. Note that I also said "- though on my 8th gen Corolla - didn't notice much difference" - I mentioned not MUCH difference, didn't say NO difference at all. For me - the lowering aspect gave more stability in a cross wind than an increase in tire width. As they say - your mileage may vary.

Good point, 99. The XRS should do a little better than the other models. It's riding on 195/55/16s and has a tighter suspension.

 

The XRS tires and S and LE have the same width. The XRS tires are better because they are a better tires. The plus size helps with side wall stiffness, but the rubber compound is just everall better.

I'm running stock XRS rims and tires and a 05 LE and the difference compared to the stock tires is night and day. The tight suspention of the XRS might help out some more, but the stock suspention on the regular corolla isn't crap or anything. It acually corners just fine with upgraded tires alone. A spring and shock upgrade would help out some more, but it is plenty safe enough and then some with just upgraded tires.

Yes, I know XRS has the same width tires as LE and S. And yes, I left out the most obvious point - XRS has good, sticky summer performance tires stock as opposed to what's on the other models.

Guest Enigma

I found the best way to to drive any Corolla in cross winds or high winds on the open highway or any freeway is to lower the driver side window halfway and lower the rear passenger side window halfway. This it helps stabilize the the car and you will have to adjust the windows to your preferred setting that works for your car. The car is lightweight and there is nothing you can really do to make it act like a mid sized sedan that cost 5 to 10k more. Any add on or dropping the car or tire changes will alter your fuel efficiency and dropping your car makes it even more dangerous for you when driving next to SUVs trucks a commercial vehicles as you already know that your car already sits lower then those vehicles and they have a hard time seeing you as it is

I would certainly advocate for better tires. A few months after I bought a _new_ Corolla, I replaced the tires. The OEMs tend to be whatever's cheapest for the company. My theory is that tire makers make a rubbish line that they practically give away to automakers, knowing most people replace their original tires with the exact same brand and model, because “the factory knows best.” New tires were the best change I could have made, IMHO... but they did nothing for crosswinds. I agree that dropping the car probably isn't a great idea, and most drop kits are poorly designed in any case (that is, they drop the car but do not do anything about the now-incorrect suspension geometry, and reduce the useful lifespan of the car/suspension). 

Opening the windows should indeed help, and I have also found it helpful to have one front and the diagonal rear open if any are open at all. The problem with any open windows is the parachute effect.

I too have TRD springs they help with crosswinds and just make the car a better car IMHO.