• How to Control Your Car When Skidding

    Published on:  September 30th 2013

    It's important to know how to react when your car breaks into a skid. Whether bad weather conditions or balding tyres are at fault, you can regain control by reacting quickly. The best way to handle a skid depends on where the car is going.

    1. When the back end is skidding

    A back end skid is called oversteer, and usually results from steering strongly into a corner. Late braking and slippery conditions are often at fault. When you lose control of the rear end of the car, it will feel like you're turning too quickly. You can usually sense the loss of traction as the back wheels begin to slide.

    First, try not to panic. Slamming on the brakes and jamming the wheel in the opposite direction will not get you back in control.

    Release the gas and depress the clutch to prevent stalling. Depending on your speed, you may also need to apply the brake carefully. Brake slowly - slamming on the pedals can cause your front wheels to slide or even send your car into a spin.

    Simultaneously straighten the wheel by turning it in the same direction as the rear wheel skid. If you were turning sharply to the left, steer towards the right. Keep the motion as smooth and steady as possible to regain traction.

    2. When the front end is skidding

    Also known as understeer, a front wheel slide is often caused by taking a corner at high speed. Your ability to steer is reduced and the car turns less sharply, if at all. In the case of a front wheel skid, do not steer in the direction of movement.

    First, ease off the pedals. Excessive braking or acceleration will only make matters worse. If you are not travelling at a high speed, steering slightly more towards the corner may be enough to bring the car back on track. If the car continues to skid, straighten the steering slightly and then return to the direction of cornering. Depress the clutch and apply the brakes.

    Be prepared for the snatch, or the moment when the car regains grip. If you get caught steering too hard into the corner or accelerating too quickly, you may inadvertently oversteer and take the vehicle off course.

    3. When all four wheels are skidding

    Braking hard on a straight course can cause all four wheels to lock. To regain control, depress the clutch and apply cadence braking by rhythmically (but not excessively) pumping the brake pedal until you get traction. In the moments after the brakes unlock, moving the steering wheel will also help you get back on course.

    If you stay calm and follow these simple tips, you can avoid getting in a spin when your wheels start to slide. Always ensure your car insurance is up to date for peace of mind - even if you're completely confident in your ability to handle your vehicle, you never know who else will be out on the roads that day.