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How to handle a skid ... First, be calm

Published:Sunday | September 29, 2019 | 12:16 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Automotives Writer

The faster you drive, the more dangerous the slide. A driver should never take a skid for a joke but should remain calm.

Automobile experts suggest that drivers stay as calm as possible when they are about to fall prey to a skid.

According to The Oxford Pocket Dictionary, to skid is ‘to slide on slippery ground, especially sideways or obliquely’.

Simply put, to skid is to slip on a wet surface or to lose traction.

A vehicle can pick up a skid whenever there is too much braking, accelerating, or steering. Additionally, a skid can be as a result of a sudden lane change or abrupt turns. It should be noted, however, that it takes a much longer time to stop on a slippery pavement than on a dry pavement.

“There are two basic actions that contribute to a skid: one, too much power, or two, too much braking,” says Kurt Harding, an experienced St Andrew auto mechanic.

“In terms of the skid, when a driver accelerates hard, the drive wheels will spin. this results in loss of traction between the drive wheels and the road,” he adds. “If this is not corrected quickly, the rear of the car may skid from side to side – an action commonly referred to as a ‘fishtail’ or ‘spin’.” However, Harding also warns that the most dangerous part of the skid is overcorrection, which can result in a dangerous fishtail. Each time a car fishtails, the skid becomes more violent, making it progressively harder for the driver to regain control.

Drivers are therefore advised not to panic when a skid occurs. To correct it, the driver should turn the wheel gently at first, applying more lock if the slide persists. To correct a power skid, the driver should release the accelerator promptly and steer in the same direction that the rear of the car is skidding in order to straighten the car. Accelerate gently for traction. If the tyres start to slip because of the fast-idle setting on the engine, shift to ‘neutral’ and tap the accelerator hard once to reduce the engine’s idle speed. Accelerate gently to maintain traction between tyres and the road. A point to remember concerning braking skids is that if a driver slams on the brakes, one or all four wheels will lock – this simply means that they will stop turning and the car will skid.

“Locked wheels provide no steering control,” the auto mechanic advises. “Wheel control is lost because the wheels are not rolling, and the tyres must be kept rolling so the driver can steer.

To correct a braking skid, promptly release the brakes and steer in the same direction the rear of the car is skidding, then brake gently. To avoid a skid, the driver should brake early, smoothly, and gently in reduced traction. If the rear wheels of the car slide on a slippery surface at lower speeds, reducing power will automatically bring the tail back into line. If the driver should get into a corner too fast, he will find that the car has a stubborn tendency to go straight ahead – the front wheels are slipping while the rear wheels are maintaining traction and taking you straight ahead.

It must be kept in mind that a motor vehicle with a heavy load in its trunk or rear seat may tend to oversteer at high speeds or on slippery pavement. At such times, steer into the skid and keep some power on. The driver’s best option for correcting it is to keep the tail in line and steer through the bend. slow down but do not get off the throttle entirely as this will eliminate all traction on the rear wheels and will send them looping to the outside of the curve. Though it may not be so easy to remain calm based on the while experiencing a frightening skid, try to be calm, and remember, the right move at the right time makes it right.


ACTION 1: If your rear end starts to slide, turn your wheels in the same direction that the front of the car is skidding.

ACTION 1B: Try not to oversteer. You will get that feeling when the motor vehicle regains rolling traction.

ACTION 2: Do not hit the brakes during a side skid correction. It is best to pump the brakes with a hard, rapid foot-jabbing and then release.