Winter driving: How to get out of a skid

Winter driving is very dangerous if you don't know how to handle your car

Winter driving is very dangerous if you don’t know how to handle your car

You know how to drive safely and you’ve read our article on how to drive defensively in winter weather. But it’s a Friday afternoon, you’ve just sat through an hour of torturous traffic, and you can’t wait another moment to get home to catch that football game. So you rev up the engine a little more than you should and push it on a curve.

Now here you are, spinning out of control in a blur of snow. You have two choices here: 1. Freak out and freeze, which will likely cause your car to spin into a tree (or oncoming traffic), or 2. Collect yourself and suavely maneuver out of the skid like a pro.

Don’t freeze up – we’re here to help. Whether you have a front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, manual, or stick shift, the technique for getting out of a skid is the same.

Consider this your worst-case scenario guide for skidding.

There are two ways to fall into a skid - the type of skid you're in determines how you get out of one

There are two ways to fall into a skid – the type of skid you’re in determines how you get out of it

Oversteering

This happens when you make a turn and the back wheels spin out to the outside of the curve, causing them to fishtail. To steer yourself out of this skid, look the way you want to go and countersteer. So if you’re making a right turn and the nose of your car is pointed too far too the right, look a little to the left and steer left. This is known as “steering into the skid.” Countersteering will bring your car back to the direction you wanted it to go in the first place.

While doing so, keep your foot off the brake (if you don’t have anti-lock brakes) and gas. If you have anti-lock brakes, brake firmly while steering into the skid.

Those with manual transmissions should let up on the clutch. Once your car is stabilized and has traction, countersteer to go in the direction you originally intended.

Understeering

When you go into a turn with too much speed, your car may not turn as much as you wanted it to, causing the front wheels to lose traction. The solution? Turn your wheels straight, even if that means turning them directly toward another car or a building.

Once your tires get enough grip, they will start rolling rather than sliding and you can steer properly again.

If you find yourself hydroplaning…

You could very easily throw yourself into a skid by braking or turning suddenly, so don’t do either! Ease your foot off the gas until you can feel the road again, and brake with light pumping motions. If your car has anti-lock brakes you can brake normally, since your anti-lock brakes will pump the brakes for you.

If your drive wheels hydroplane:

You will see an increase in your speedometer and RPM as your wheels spin. Release the gas, slow down, and steer your car straight on the road.

If your front wheels hydroplane:

Your car will slip towards the outside of the bend. Slow down and steer so your car can travel straight.

If your back wheels hydroplane:

Your car’s back wheels will veer into a skid. Steer into the skid and then steer in the opposite direction to straighten out your car.

Tips to avoid hydroplaning:

  • Keep your tires properly inflated with good tread depth
  • Replace worn tires – underinflated tires can deflect inwards, making the center higher and trapping water more easily
  • Drive slowly in wet conditions, and maintain mild pressure on your brake and gas
  • Try to drive in the tire tracks left by the car in front of you
  • Don’t suddenly accelerate, brake, or make sudden turns

References

http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Hydroplaning

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/car-driving-safety/accidents-hazardous-conditions/how-to-steer-out-of-skid.htm

http://www.weather.com/activities/driving/drivingsafety/drivingsafetytips/hydroplane.html

If you need help getting your car through the winter, contact us at our website or call (806) 242-1073 to schedule an appointment today!

Aardvark Automotive

4 thoughts on “Winter driving: How to get out of a skid

  1. A brilliant guide! Winter driving is a huge hassle, especially here in the UK with many of the smaller roads not getting prepared for snow fall.You cover really effective points, i think if everyone from the beginner driver to the experienced took these on board then I’m sure the risks would minimise greatly!

    • We agree! You can never predict the driving conditions on smaller roads, which during the winter can be covered with black ice. Prevention is key, and more people need to educate themselves before heading on the road!

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