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30.10.2015 How to deal with a skid

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Losing control of a tonne of metal at high speed is possibly one of the scariest things it’s possible to do; however, as the temperatures drop, it’s increasingly likely that you’ll find yourself having to deal with a skid.

It’s not just ice, but spilt diesel, freshly surfaced roads and standing water which can cause you to lose control of your car. And although you’re more likely to skid on a bend, you can also lose control on a perfectly straight road.

You can reduce your risk of skidding by making sure your tyres have plenty of tread and are properly inflated. If your car has stability control, this will help too; however, it won’t completely eliminate your risk of skidding.

If you do find yourself in a skid, don’t brake, accelerate or turn away from the skid. Instead, the best thing to do is lift of the accelerator and turn into the skid.

Doing this might seem mad, but it will let the rear tyres slow down enough to retain their grip. The car will then stop sliding and begin to straighten, and then you can straighten up the wheel.

To deal with a skid it’s also important to know whether you’re experiencing underteer or oversteer. Put simply, understeer is when your front tyres lose grip and oversteer is when your rear tyres lose grip.

Understeer

When you understeer, you try to steer but the car keeps going straight on. The trick to remedy this is to lift off the gas and straighten the wheel. You might also need to gently apply the brakes. Once you regain grip, you can steer back on course.

Oversteer

When a car oversteers, the back of the car will swing out and you can even end up spinning. The trick to correcting a slide is to steer into the slide and lift (gently) off the throttle. Don’t suddenly lift off the throttle as this can make things worse.

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