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Top Tips for When Your Car Goes Into a Slide on Ice

Lots of us have been in that terrifying situation when you hit ice, and realise you're not in control of the car anymore. This is all the more scary if you have kids in the car with you.

There are a few important tips to remember if you hit ice when driving- that if you know beforehand - you are more likely to be able to put into action when it happens.

How to Avoid Sliding on Ice:

It's better to prevent a slide, than to have to try to correct one, so here are some things to remember:

  • Keep your speed down. The slower you go, the less likely you are to slide on ice and lose control of the car.
  • Keep everything nice and smooth - with the throttle, the brakes, and your steering. It's sudden movements that can destabilise the car, as every movement is amplified on icy roads.
  • Keep an eye on the forecast. It seems obvious - but if low temperatures and precipitation is forecast, the roads could be icy.

The most common way a car loses control on ice is by "oversteer" - when the back of the car slides out. This is explained at the bottom of this post. Oversteer is most likely to happen when you:

  • Are going too fast
  • Brake suddenly
  • Accelerate
  • Turn corners / bends / overtake

What to do When the Car Does Slide on Ice

Even if you do take all of the above precautions and avoid risky driving in icy conditions, you may still lose control of the car in a slide. Sometimes it's just unavoidable.

There are three key points to remember if you realise you do not have full control of the car, and the back is sliding out:

  1. Remove your foot from the accelerator (gently) 
  2. Don't slam on the brakes
  3. Steer the car INTO the slide

First things first. Don't panic. This is easier said than done - but if you can keep your cool, you're more likely to do the right things. And you can only really be calm, if you KNOW what the right things to do are - so read on.

The main aim is to bring the car back under control. If you fight against the car - that's the last thing that is going to happen. Imagine a sliding car as a toddler having a meltdown. If you want to bring that toddler back under control, the last thing you should do is use sudden or erratic measures. You usually try to calm the whole situation down, and the toddler will come around eventually (or else...you lose the head with them, and then the situation escalates into a screaming match. Been there). It's a bit the same when a car is in a slide. The less sudden reactions the better - and keep it all calm and smooth.

Let's look at the three key things you need to remember when in a slide:

1. Remove Your Foot From the Accelerator

This is to slow the car down as much as possible without touching the brake. Just remove your foot...but do it gently - remember, no sudden moves that the car could react to. Sometimes in the panic, people try to accelerate out of the skid which leads to all kinds of trouble. So to avoid this - remember to remove your foot entirely from the accelerator.

2. Don't Brake

At all. Braking not only sometimes caused the skid in the first place - but will also make the situation much worse during the slide.

Remember - it's about letting the car correct itself - and regaining control of it. To do this - the wheels must be able to turn freely - not be locked up in braking.

3. Turn Into the Slide

This simply means, whatever way the back of the car is sliding out,  you turn the wheel in that direction. If the back of your car has slid out to the right, then turn the steering wheel to the right also.

Once the car starts to straighten up - gently straighten up the steering wheel too.

As the car is correcting itself - the rear can swing a little in the other direction - so you may need to "turn into the slide" a few times in each direction, depending on how the car responds.

Just try to remember - if the rear slides out behind your right shoulder - turn the car right. If the back slides out behind your left shoulder - turn left.

If you want to really get into the detail of this - there's a video here worth watching. Around 5:33 in the video - they explain turning into a slide.

And remember - it's generally not a big dramatic steer of the wheel that is needed - it should be proportionate to how far out the back of the car is skidding. Often - a slight steer of the wheel will be enough to bring the car back under control. Steering the car too much in one direction, can cause the car to overcorrect, and can send the car sliding in the other direction, or into a spin. So like with the toddler....keep it all nice and calm and no sudden movements.

Just Remember 3 Things

So remember your mantra for when you hit that ice and feel the car slide:

  1. Take your foot off the accelerator
  2. Don't brake
  3. Turn into the slide

If you want to check out more ways to stay safe in and around cars with kids - check out our new product Hands On Magnets here.

Thanks for reading.

PS If you want to sound knowledgeable when sharing your thoughts on how to drive on ice, here's the two ways that a car can lose control:

How Does the Car Slide on Ice?

There are two main causes for a car to slide or skid on ice:

Understeer. This is when the front wheels lose grip in a turn. Even though you may be turning the steering wheel one way, and the wheels are facing that direction, the car goes straight

Oversteer. This is when the rear wheels of a car lose grip, and the back end of the car slides out in the opposite direction to the one you are steering in.

Oversteer is by far the most common - but remember the three key points above, and you might just get yourself out of trouble when it happens.

Car on Ice illustration


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