Why do cars flip so rapidly and strongly whenever tires touch?



I’ve seen this type of accident a lot, and I’m wondering how its so effective at flipping the car.


It seems like its due to tire to tire contact, I imagine that offers a rapid transfer of energy between them. I do not understand how in this video 1 tire touching caused the entire vehicle to lift up and roll so “cleanly” in that the car was almost perfectly tilted on its side.

In: Physics

The back tire of the front car is lifting up the other car. (picture how the tire is spinning)

The front tire of the rear car is driving up the other tire. Much like a tire drives over a speed bump.

This is a massive amount of kinetic energy in the upwards direction.

Tires are sticky, so when tires touch other tires they’re very sticky. That means it’s easy to transfer momentum between the sticky objects.

The wheels/drivetrain of a car moving at highway speeds have an enormous amount of momentum.

So once the tires touch, they’re moving in the opposite direction the back of the lead tire is moving up, and the front of the trailing tire is moving down. That means they either both need to rapidly stop or the front tire needs to sink into the ground or back tire is going to rapidly rise.

Since they can’t stop quickly enough, movement starts, and the ground limits the downward movement quickly, so the only remaining place for that energy to go is lifting the rear car, there’s a ton of energy because of all the momentum so it rises quickly.