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What to do if your car is skidding

With heavy rain, wet leaves covering the road, and ice and snow, winter driving conditions can mean your chances of skidding are higher than usual.

An icy road

But do you know what to do in that situation?

To know what to do, you need to know what type of skidding's happening. Is it understeer or oversteer?

Understeer

Understeer is a front-wheel skid as a result of the front wheels losing grip. This is more likely to happen in a front-wheel drive car and is often caused by taking a corner too quickly or braking too hard when cornering.

With understeer, the front tyres slip in the direction you're travelling, so instead of turning, you'll continue straight on.

What to do if you understeer

The most common occurrence for understeer is when you're driving too fast for the road conditions, so you can reduce your risk by taking things a bit slower.

If you start to understeer, keep your feet on the pedals but reduce the pressure on the accelerator or brakes and reduce the steering angle to get back control of your car.

Did you know?

  • If visibility is below 100m you should turn your headlights on.
  • You should leave twice the distance between you and the car in front in wet weather.
  • Always test your brakes after driving through standing water.

Oversteer

Oversteer affects the back of the car. Simply put, it's where the tyres slip and try to push in the opposite direction you're trying to turn, kicking the back end of the car out.

It often happens in rear-wheel drive vehicles, as the back end wants to overtake the front when cornering.

What to do if you oversteer

Similar to understeer, you need to reduce your speed. To bring in the back end of your car, keep looking and steering the direction you want to go, and avoid slamming the brakes or removing your foot from the accelerator.

Did you know?

  • A car can float in just 60cm of standing water.
  • A car can be moved by just 30cm of flowing water.
  • A car engine can be ruined by just one egg cup of water.

Source: Stay safe on the road when it's wet, wet, wet — theaa.com

Prevent skidding

You can't control the weather but you can reduce your chances of skidding by doing regular car maintenance to keep your car in top condition. Make sure your tyres aren't worn and check your brakes and tyre air pressure.

On the roads, manoeuvre gently and smoothly, and avoid sudden braking, acceleration and sharp steering.

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