A skid develops when the tyres of a vehicle have been pushed beyond their level of grip on a given surface and they lose traction. Most people describe a skid as a total loss of steering control combined with a vague, light feel to the steering wheel this is know as a front wheel skid. Driving in rain, ice and snow increase the chances of a skid occurring.
Sometimes however, a skid can manifest itself in the form of a rear wheel skid, which tends to occur more in rear wheel drive cars. This is when the rear wheels lose traction. In this situation the driver can often feel the back of the car come around on itself!
A skid pan training session, combined with an on-road advanced driving course can help you become a safer driver, by actually recreating a skid in a safe environment. Our fleet driving courses aimed at company car drivers covers skid control in theory, where our expert instructors will help explain how to correct all types of skids – but most importantly they will teach you to drive in a way that avoid skids in the first place!
Although this advice will give you a basic understanding of skids, there is no way of telling how you may react in a real emergency situation without real life experience.
A skid pan is normally a disused piece of land (tarmac or concrete) which is constantly covered in a thin layer of water to enable skid training to take place. The cars used normally have slick tyres to easily invoke a skid – allowing participants to lean how to detect and deal with a skid in a safe and controlled environment.
This video from Mercedes AMG Driving Academy explain oversteer and understeer.
What is a Front Wheel Skid? – Understeer
A front wheel skid is when the front wheels of a vehicle lose traction. Cars which are powered by the front wheels (front wheel drive) tend to suffer from this problem more than cars with rear wheel drive. This is mainly due to the fact that the front wheels are driving the car and so demand more of the tyres grip than the rear tyres.
Front wheel skids usually occur under heavy breaking, where the front wheels lock-up or when trying to go around a corner too quickly for the road conditions. A front wheel skid is also known as under-steer, as the car will carry on in a straight direction, regardless of how much steering input you apply.
What is a Rear Wheel Skid? – Oversteer
A rear wheel skid occurs when the rear wheels lose traction. This tends to happen either under heavy braking, especially if there is a fault with the rear brakes (which applies to cars with front or rear wheel drive), or more commonly when going around a corner too quickly! In this respect, rear wheel cars tend to suffer from rear wheel skids (also known as over-steer) more than front wheel drive cars, as the rear wheels propel the car, and so put extra demands on the tyres. When a car over-steers, it will feel like it is trying to spin itself around.
However, unlike under-steer, you still have the ability to control the front wheels. Effective control of the front wheels in this situation can quickly remedy over-steer, but this takes practice.
How to Resolve a Skid.
Front Wheel Skid If you encounter under-steer, you should try and keep the wheels in the direction of the skid (so they don’t bite when they gain traction again!) and remove feet from pedals, engine braking will help you gain control. Try and remain calm and anticipate getting the car on course once you have steering control back.
Rear Wheel Skid If you encounter over-steer, you need to steer into the skid. For example, if you are going around an island or roundabout, and the cars rear slides out to the left, you need to carefully steer left (towards the skid) to counteract the effect. You must also remember to remove feet from the pedals, to allow engine braking to take effect. As with dealing with a front wheel skid, smoothness, staying calm and early detection are essential.
Our advanced driving courses are designed to help people before more safer, defensive drivers. Whilst we don’t cover actual live skid training, we do cover the essential theory – and maybe most important of all, to drive in a way that reduces the chances of a skid happening in the first place.