There’s nothing scarier than when your car starts to pull in a direction you’re not steering. Especially when you’re driving on a wet and slippery road.
This article will cover what you should do when your car starts to skid on a slippery road, what causes a car to skid, as well as a few FAQs on vehicle skidding.
This Article Contains
- What to Do When Your Car Starts to Skid on a Slippery Road
- What Causes Your Car to Skid on a Slippery Road?
- 3 FAQs on Vehicle Skids
Let’s steer right in.
What to Do When Your Car Starts to Skid on a Slippery Road
When you’re driving on a slippery, wet, or snow covered road, you’re more likely to lose control over your steering. This is because it’s easier for a car to lose traction on a road that doesn’t offer much grip.
Vehicle skids are extremely scary, can end up being very dangerous, and are sometimes unavoidable. As such, it’d be a good idea to know what to do if you experience car skidding (though we’d never wish it on you!)
Here are some guidelines:
1. Keep Your Foot Off the Gas
One of the most important things to do when you notice your car beginning to slide is to decrease speed. In this case, the best action is to immediately take your foot off the accelerator.
This will help your tires regain traction on the road. Once you feel the car slowing down and starting to come out of the skid, gently push the brake pedal to come to a complete stop.
2. Counter Steering or Reduce Steering
This is a pretty simple tip on paper, but difficult to act out if you don’t know how counter steering works. Counter steering applies when you have a rear tire skid, and reduce steering turns when you have a front wheel skid (typically due to understeering.)
Let’s take a closer look.
Counter steering, in the simplest of terms, means to point the car in the opposite direction of the skid:
- If the rear tires of the car start to skid to the left, turn your steering wheel to the left
- If the rear tires of your car start to skid to the right, turn your steering wheel to the right
Reduce steering turns if your car goes into understeer. Understeering is when your car turns less than what you want when taking a corner, and often affects cars with front wheel drive:
- When the front of your car starts to skid, you’ll want to reduce the amount your steering wheel turns so that the front wheels can begin to point in the direction the car is traveling
- This helps the wheels regain grip and recover steering, so you can then steer in the right direction
Reducing your steering turns may seem counterintuitive, but steering more toward where you’re turning could make things worse!
3. Don’t Jerk the Steering Wheel
The most crucial thing to remember when you feel your vehicle starting to skid and slide is to remain calm.
If you jerk the steering wheel at high speed to overcorrect or overpower the skid, especially when going in the opposite direction, you put yourself in more danger of losing control and fishtailing. Instead, try to gently point the car in the right direction (explained above).
If you implement these safety procedures, you’ll have a good chance of bringing the car to a safe stop.
But what causes a vehicle to skid in the first place?
Let’s find out.
What Causes Your Car to Skid on a Slippery Road?
Here are a few things that could cause a vehicle to skid:
1. Worn-Out Tire Tread
The most common reason vehicles start to slide on a slippery surface is a lack of tire tread and grip on the road.
Low tire tread will reduce your vehicle’s traction when driving, causing a higher chance of skidding. This problem is especially noticeable when driving in wet or snow drenched conditions. Consider winter tires if you consistently drive on a wet or icy road.
Braking should always be a gentle maneuver to bring a car to a slow stop.
Hitting the brake pedal too hard and abruptly, in any conditions, can cause locked wheels (unless you have anti lock brakes). Locked wheels will increase the likelihood of a car skid — especially in slippery road conditions
Like over-braking, driving too fast is one of the leading causes of vehicle skids and accidents. Driving at high speed is even more dangerous when driving on slick roads, where caution is necessary.
Drivers should constantly adjust their driving speed to suit the road condition, especially during winter driving. Over-acceleration leads to oversteering, and in fact, the last thing you want to do when skidding is to oversteer!
4. Sharp Steering
Generally, it’s always best to turn and maneuver a car slowly.
Try not to oversteer, as steering more sharply than the vehicle can turn can lead to a loss of control and resultant car skid, especially in a wet or slippery condition.
Still have a few unanswered questions on vehicle skidding?
Let’s go through a few FAQs on the topic.
3 FAQs on Vehicle Skids
Here are the answers to some common questions on car skidding:
1. How Can I Prevent My Car from Skidding?
Follow these prevention tips to protect yourself from skidding on slick roads:
- Always ensure that your tires have adequate tread depth. Most tires have a “wear bar” in the treads, which, when reached, indicates that it’s time for new tires.
- Drive slowly on a wet and icy road or during general winter driving.
- Keep a safe distance between you and any cars around you when in traffic. You want to give yourself enough time to slow down without having to slam on the brake.
- Gently brake when entering a curve or a bend. Going around turns too quickly or braking too hard when entering a bend can cause a skid.
2. Will My Car Only Skid on a Slippery Road?
Skids can happen in all conditions, depending on how safely or dangerously a driver is driving. Overbraking, over-accelerating, and sharp turns can cause a skid on any road surface, from dry to snowy roads.
Motor vehicle skidding is definitely more likely to happen on a wet, frosty, or snowy road surface. This is because it’s more challenging for tires to keep traction and grip on a slippery surface. Winter tires, on the other hand, may be perfect for staying safe in a wet road condition.
3. What is the Difference Between a Front Wheel Skid and a Rear Wheel Skid?
There are two main types of skids:
- Front wheel skid: this type of skid happens when the vehicle’s entire body starts to slide in a direction unintended by the driver. A front wheel skid typically occurs when entering or driving around curves too quickly.
- Rear wheel skid: rear wheel drive skids are far more common than front wheel skids. This happens when the vehicle’s rear wheels lose traction, and the back end starts to slide either left or right. This is also known as fishtailing, which is especially dangerous on a wet or snowy road.
Skids are less likely if your vehicle has an anti lock braking system. Also, get a mechanic to check on your tires and wheel alignment to ensure they’re in top condition.
If you notice your motor vehicle starting to skid, the best thing you can do is remove your foot from the gas pedal and steer into the slide. To be extra safe, always be sure to have adequate tire tread and drive slowly in slippery road conditions during winter or when surrounded by traffic.
To ensure your car is ready for winter driving or if you need help after a vehicle skid, call a mobile mechanic.
AutoNation Mobile Service is a mobile vehicle and maintenance service that makes the repair and maintenance of your car super convenient. Our expert technicians are available 7 days a week, and we offer a 12-month | 12,000-mile warranty on all repairs.
Contact us today for all of your vehicle needs!