AARP Driving Resource Center

The Car Skids — What You Should Do

Learn how to avoid trouble on the road

Skids happen when the tires lose their grip on the road. Skids can be caused by these driver errors.

See also: Roadway Departures and How to React

  • Overbraking: Braking too hard and locking up the wheels. Skids can also occur when the road is slippery.
  • Oversteering: Turning the wheels more sharply than the vehicle can turn.
  • Overaccelerating: Supplying too much power to drive the wheels, causing them to spin.
  • Driving too fast: Most serious skids result from driving too fast for road conditions. Drivers who adjust their driving to conditions do not overaccelerate and do not have to overbrake or oversteer from too much speed.

One of the best ways to avoid trouble (not just skids) on the road is to drive smoothly. Plan ahead, watch carefully and slow down, especially if you are unfamiliar with the road. Most skids occur when conditions are slippery.

If you find yourself in a skid, take your feet off the pedals. Stop braking and stop accelerating. Then, quickly turn the steering wheel in the direction you want to go. As your vehicle turns back in the correct direction, you will probably then need to steer in the opposite direction to stop the turning and stay on your desired path.

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