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

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How to drive defensively in winter weather

It is imperative to drive with caution in the winter.

It is imperative to drive with caution in the winter.

Snow can make winter great fun – we’re sure every kid appreciates a snow day – but for drivers, the first snowfall ushers in the worst driving season of the year. Slippery, icy conditions and lack of visibility combined with shorter days make for treacherous roads. Less tire traction and more snow and ice building up on your car mean increased strain on your vehicle’s normal functions.

While you can’t snap your fingers and make the sun come back again, you can arm yourself against the weather. By following these 9 important winter weather driving tips, you can make it through the cold with minimal wear and tear

1. Slow down and increase your following distance

The speed limits posted are for motorists driving in ideal weather conditions – snow, ice, and rain don’t count. In general, do everything more slowly in the winter, since in snow, tires are just barely gripping the road. Accelerating or braking quickly can lead to skidding and accidents.

To familiarize yourself with driving on slick ice or snow without bumping into another car, practice in an empty lot. Avoid spinning the tires when you start by gently pressing the gas pedal. Get a feel for how to steer and brake, and slow down at least 3 times sooner than when you would normally turn or brake. Knowing how your car feels and drives will give you extra time to react in case difficult situations arise.

In snowy conditions, reduce your speed to half the posted speed limit.

2. Increase speed on the flat before going uphill

The key here is not to spin your wheels, which will make you lose traction and stall before you hit the hilltop. To ensure you have enough power, step on the accelerator on the flat before the hill. As the car slows up the hill, ease up on the accelerator and let the car slowly crest the hill.

Take it slow when you're on the snow.

Take it slow when you’re on the snow.

3. Grip the road during a curve

Lack of grip causes lack of control, and lack of control leads to accidents. To maximize grip, brake only before the curve while the car is traveling straight. Then take your foot off the brake as you head into the curve so you can use all grip available for steering. Accelerate as you finish the curve and straighten the steering wheel.

If you enter a corner with too much speed, you could risk spinning your wheels and losing control. Also key to preventing a skid is good steering wheel control, since being rough with your steering can cause your vehicle to lose balance.

4. Avoid skids by downshifting before you turn a corner (manual transmission only)

Repeat after us: DO NOT downshift in a curve. Gear changes should be made while you’re still going straight, before you hit a curve. Downshifting in a curve can destabilize your car and cause a skid.

5. Keep your low beams on in snow or fog

Using your low beams in fog will minimize glare and reflection and maximize visibility. Look to the right when there are oncoming cars to avoid getting blinded.

6. Know how to use your ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) to increase grip

Brake slowly and smoothly in normal conditions. In case of emergency, step on the brakes hard, but only if you have an ABS. Anti-lock brakes allow you to steer even as you’re braking to (hopefully) navigate you out of danger.

Snow plow

 7. Watch out for danger ahead, especially shady areas with “black ice”

Good drivers know to anticipate problems so they’ll react correctly and promptly. Road conditions vary from one area to another – sometimes ice may remain on bridges even though the rest of the roads are clear.

As a rule of thumb, roads are cooler in shady areas. Sometimes “black ice,” or a transparent coating of ice over roads, can make the black of asphalt roads show through and appear as if there is no ice at all. The ice’s invisibility causes skidding and accidents for unassuming drivers.

Therefore, always slow your car in shady areas, bridges, or infrequently used roads, since they freeze first and can remain frozen even if the temperature is above freezing.

Snow also means snow plows will be on the road. While they will be driving slowly, do not cut them off, since their visibility is severely limited by blowing snow.

8. Keep driving conditions comfortable + clear your car of ice

Turn on cool air to keep windows clear and to keep you awake. Avoid large, bulky clothing while you are driving.

Keep lights and your windshield clean with snow and ice scrapers. There are also special blades designed to remove ice from your windshield.

9. Don’t think you are invincible because you have four-wheel drive

Four-wheel drive does not increase braking or curve-turning capability – like all other vehicles, four-wheel drive cars depend on four tire contact points on the ground for grip. Imprecise, hurried driving causes all cars to lose balance just the same.

Snow tires or chains help increase traction, but chains are more effective, since snow tires can still slide around on ice and packed snow.

Note: If you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, you can put a bag or two of sand behind the rear axle to increase traction. Just don’t put too much weight back there, or you could risk weighing down the back too much and lifting up the front, reducing your braking and steering abilities.

References

http://www.edmunds.com/how-to/how-to-drive-in-the-snow.html

http://www.safemotorist.com/articles/winter_driving.aspx

http://www.cartalk.com/content/winter-driving-tips-7