What Do I Do If My Car Skids?
Car skidding is scary. Luckily, we know how to turn out of a skid and, even better, avoid them altogether. To guarantee you arrive safe and sound and to prevent unnecessary car repair, here are all the tips you need to avoid spinning out.
Why do cars skid?
Cars skid for two primary reasons. One, you’ve turned too fast or overturned, which leads to fishtailing, when your car’s rear goes outside the turn radius, and that can cause you to spin out of control. The second type of spin happens from lack of traction, due to ice, oil, or poor tire tread. Regardless of why you spin, these tips will help you stop it.
How to Prevent Car Skids
- Check Your Tire Tread—Worn tires are a leading cause of skids and maintaining adequate tread is one of the most important aspects of auto care. To check if your tire tread is safe, insert a penny head first between the treads. Lincoln’s forehead should be mostly covered. If you can see his hairline, your tread’s too thin and your car may skid. Read more about tire tread in Nine Best Practices for Tire Maintenance here.
- Slow Down—Prevent skids by not driving too fast, especially on curves or in wet, icy, or snowy weather.
- Give Them Space—Other cars, that is. Avoid the need for car repair by keeping at least 2 seconds of time between your cars. So, if they pass a lamp post, you should pass it at least two seconds after. If it’s raining or wet, though, leave at least four seconds.(See our tips for driving in the rain here). Leaving this distance means you can react in time should the lead car stop. If you have to suddenly brake—well, this can lead to skidding.
How to Stop A Skidding Car
- Take Your Foot Off the Gas—Slowly take your foot off the gas pedal the second your car spins, skids or is otherwise out of control.
- Don’t Brake—You may instinctually want to brake if your car skids or spins. Don’t. Braking will only throw your car further off balance. Again, just slowly lift your foot from the gas pedal.
- Be Handsy—With your wheel, that is. You want to be in control of your car in the event of a skid, so having both hands on the wheel is absolutely essential. Ignore anyone who tells you to put the car in neutral; this requires taking your hands off the wheel.
- Look Where You Want to Go—In other words, keep your eyes on the prize. You want to get your car back on the straight and narrow, so be sure to keep your focus there, too. Letting your attention spin out isn’t going to do you in favors. Nor will it help you accomplish the fifth and most important step.
- Steer Your Car the Right Direction—Some say turn into a skid, others say turn away from it. That only applies to fishtailing (See above.) The truth is you should steer the car the direction you want to go, slowly. Don’t jerk the wheel or let it go on its own. Remain in control, steer toward your goal, and you’ll be good to go!
Reacting to Fish Tailing—Again, fishtailing is when the rear of your car turns the opposite direction as the front or goes outside the turn radius. To regain control here, steer in the same direction as the rear tires. So, if the rear tires go left, turn toward the driver’s side; if they go right, steer toward the passenger’s side.
If your tire tread is too thin, or if you are in need of any car repairs, stop by one of HEART Certified Auto Care’s three convenient locations in Evanston, Wilmette, and Northbrook. At HEART Certified Auto Care, we work to restore your faith in auto care.