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How to Correct a Car Sliding on Ice

Updated on January 16, 2012

Tips for Driving in the Snow

There are several tips to be found on the internet about how to drive safely in the snow. These are preventative in ever sense of the word, since avoiding the accident is the most ideal situation. But between those tips, such as driving slowly, and having an emergency kit of blankets, clothes, and other necessities, there is the actual event--the accident. Believe it or not, there are some things that can be done when you get that sinking sensation in your stomach when you feel your tires lose traction.

But before those actions are discussed, a quick review of what you should do to prevent the situation is in order.

  • Assessment is key. If there is a blizzard and the snow is really piling up, you need to assess your need to drive in it. A job or picking up the kids is a definite need that can not be avoided. But if it is driving to a friend's house for a movie or driving for a lesson, then the drive should be avoided. You could be the best snow driver in the world, but that does not mean everyone else on the street is the best either.
  • Give yourself some space. On a good day, there should be three seconds count between yourself and another car. To get this count, you pick a stationary object on the side of the road, wait until the fender of the car in front of you has passed it, and count "one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand". If you do not make it to the last count, then you are following too closely. On a bad day, you add another one-thousand for each extra condition. Slippery roads and poor visibility generally would mean an extra two seconds.
  • Drive slowly. If the roads are slick, speed will not be your friend. Take corners very slow, signally well in advanced (100 feet is generally the rule for signaling) for the drivers behind you and braking before the turn.
  • Avoid passing other drivers. Whether it is plows, trucks, or other cars, it is a good idea to just avoid passing. Visibility can factor into play when a driver is passing when the driver can not see the distance of an on-coming car. Also, snow can pile up on the center line or the left lane.
  • Be prepared for the worst. Always have blankets, extra clothes, an emergency kit, a cell-phone, water, and food with you. For added security, if you feel the need for it, is to have a snow-shovel and salt to help you get out of snow.

When Your Car is Sliding

It happens to the best of us. No matter what you do or the precautions you take, you will probably face this at least once when driving in the snow. Your car is beginning to skid and slide on the road. Some cars do this more than others, such as cars with front-wheel drive. But it can happen to anyone.

There is good news, though. There are things you can do when you are sliding.

  • Slow down. You are obviously going too fast and your car has now lost contact with the road, either through the snow or by ice. However, do not brake hard! Just take your foot off the accelerator. You can pump the brakes easy or hold the brakes if you have anti-lock brakes if you need to.
  • Turn into the slide. If you feel your car's back-end going to the right, turn to the right. If you turn away from the slide, you're asking for a 360 degree spin. If you feel your car going to the left, turn to the left. Always turn into the slide.

These two bullets above must be done roughly about the same time. Remember to not brake hard or you might lock up the brakes. If your front wheels slide, take your foot off the accelerator, let the car slow down, and do not immediately try to steer. Wait until traction occurs.

Most of the time, you will be able to prevent sliding from happening. But when your car still loses traction, it is important to know how to correct the situation before you end up in a ditch.


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    • profile image

      Karess 3 years ago

      Towcodhun! That's a really cool way of putting it!

    • profile image

      J C Sysk 3 years ago


      Winter weather is here. The roads get slick! When correcting a skid: Front wheel drive cars: Taking your foot off the accelerator causes engine braking on the front wheels making the situation worse. Light acceleration will pull the front wheels in the right direction and help correct the skid. The old rule given by most instructors today works great for rear wheel drive as engine braking on the rear wheels helps correct a skid. You will note that most instructors still cling to the old rule even though 99% of drivers needing advice use front wheel drive cars. Until you try it don't pass judgment. The accelerator will save you.

      For front wheel drive: When the car won’t straighten up and nothing seem to help accelerate !!! Too much is better than none.

    • Cammiebar profile image

      Cammiebar 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you for your comment! This is just what I learned from driving a little sports car in the middle of snow storms. All the best!

    • Al Shield profile image

      Al Shield 6 years ago from Bendigo, Victoria

      Very well written, keep up the great work :)