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  #1  
Old 12-21-2003, 12:02 AM
RufusLeaking RufusLeaking is offline
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Turning wheels in direction of skid

Although I've been driving for many years, since I live in California, I have very little experience driving on snow and ice. I remember when first learning to drive I was told that if you get into a skid you should "turn your steering wheel in the direction of the skid". This didn't make sense to me. It took several years to realize that they were not telling me to turn the steering wheel all the way to the right if I were skidding to the right or all the way to the left if I were skidding to the left.

Of course, the intended message was that you were supposed to point the front wheels in the direction the car is actually moving (skidding). Thus, the wheels can regain traction and you can regain control of your car. This makes sense if the skid occurs while you are driving in a deserted parking lot. But in real life such a skid is going to occur while driving in a lane of traffic with adjacient lanes or perhaps a cliff on the side if you are driving on a moutain road. My experience on rain-slick roads is that if I "ignore the skid" and keep the wheels pointed in the direction I want to go that the wheels regain traction the skid ends by itself.

So, I am asking people who actually drive on ice and snow: Does "Steer into the direction of the skid" really what you do?
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  #2  
Old 12-21-2003, 12:05 AM
RufusLeaking RufusLeaking is offline
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Correction:
Is "Steer into the direction of the skid" really what you do?
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  #3  
Old 12-21-2003, 12:32 AM
K364 K364 is offline
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I have heard the standard "Steer into the direction of the skid" since forever, but it is not advice I would ever give. It sounds confusing and why confuse the natural and correct reaction of trying to point the nose of the car in the direction that you want to go?

I would give advice about the tendency to over-steer in these situations.
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  #4  
Old 12-21-2003, 01:42 AM
CheekyMonkey613 CheekyMonkey613 is offline
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Rufus, that's exactly what I do, for the exat reason you stated. To get control back through hopefully finding traction. But you have to do it in the SLIGHTEST way, just a little move on the steering wheel. The same move on dry pavement wouldn't even make you change lanes. The biggest problem with this method is over-correction. As for going into another lane... Wherever you're skidding towards, you're going there without control of your car. It's the lesser of two evils.
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  #5  
Old 12-21-2003, 02:13 AM
Blown & Injected Blown & Injected is offline
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If the rear is "skidding" to the left, turn the wheel to the left. This will be turning into the skid. The more the rear slides, the more the wheel needs to be turned.

Easy to practice when the roads are wet
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  #6  
Old 12-21-2003, 03:28 AM
KP KP is offline
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I steer into the skid. Someone asked if "into the skid" is where you want to go, but the bottom line is: you ain't a-gonna go anywhere else. Either you recover control or you keep skidding. Turning against an ice skid accomplishes nothing - that's why it's a skid. Unless your wheels are rolling at the same rate and direction you're covering ground, you almost certainly won't regain control

But I couldn't agree moree with B&I about the need to practice. Any verbal rule is just a training aid. It's of limited use in a real ice skid, unless you're lucky enough to have ample room to move. I see the sad results *many* times every winter. You can often regain control almost instantly if your reflexes are prepared (which involves a nonverbal instinct of when/where to turn, tap the accelerator, etc.).

The first 5-10 years I drove in New England, I went to a parking lot on the first or second snow of the season, and practiced skids and maneuvers. I'm convinced that's maintained my perfect record through more years and near-emergencies than I care to count

It may sound like overkill, but it only took about 10-20 minutes each year, and the life I saved may have been my own.
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  #7  
Old 12-21-2003, 07:27 AM
RM Mentock RM Mentock is offline
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Re: Turning wheels in direction of skid

Quote:
Originally posted by RufusLeaking
My experience on rain-slick roads is that if I "ignore the skid" and keep the wheels pointed in the direction I want to go that the wheels regain traction the skid ends by itself.
The confusing thing about the usual rule of thumb is that many people think that if their front end is pointed to the left, that "left" is the direction of the skid. In that case, the direction of the skid is "right" (the rear wheels have skidded right) and you want to turn to the right--in other words, turn your wheels in the direction you want to go.
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  #8  
Old 12-21-2003, 07:50 AM
Anachronism Anachronism is offline
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If your front tires are skidding (understeer) and you ignore it the car will slow down until the front tires can grip then the car will turn, unless you slide off the road first

The type of skid that you have to steer into is called oversteer (or fishtail). This is when the back end starts to slide towards the outside of the turn. You end up turning tighter than you wanted to, by turning the wheels in the direction you want to go (or into the skid, the direction the back end is sliding) you are trying to get the car pointed in the right directon. If you made no correction you would either drive off the inside of the corner you are making or just spin out.

Th most common mistake for inexpierienced drivers is to overcorrect and start fishtailing in the oppisite direction, sometimes the car will go back and forth two or three times and then usually spins out.

This link has some good tips and the top two pictures on the left show a car in an oversteer skid with the wheels pointed in the direction of the skid. The first picture is an extreme example, normally only minor steering corrections are needed.

So, Yes, you really want to steer into the skid.
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  #9  
Old 12-21-2003, 10:33 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Yes. You totally have to steer into the direction of the skid, but as has been said, be careful of over-correcting and fishtailing in the other direction. The best advice is to take your car out into an icy or snowy parking lot and to get yourself into all kinds of skid situations and experience how your car reacts. Try turning into the skid. Try turning against the skid. You'll definitely notice a difference.

Test out your brakes in these conditions too. If you don't have ABS, learn how to tap-tap-tap the brakes to get the car to stop without losing too much traction. Make it instinctual to release the brakes as soon as you feel them locking up.

If you have a manual transmission, also depress the clutch as soon as you get into a skid and see how your car reacts. I've had at least one person argue with me on this, but most car authorities I've spoken with have agreed this is good advice. The theory is that if you hit the clutch, the wheels will try to move at the same speed as the ground underneath, rather than the speed of the engine which may be fighting the speed of the ground below (i.e., skidding.)

Anyhow, just get yourself to an icy lot and practice. It's fun.
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  #10  
Old 12-22-2003, 12:33 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Funny. I always thought applying opposite lock (or "steering in the direction of the skid") was a natural reaction. Stick a kid in a go-kart and see what he does when the back end steps out.
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  #11  
Old 12-22-2003, 12:39 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Okay.. upon further reflection, it occurs to me that another possible reflex would be step on the brake and keep steering into the corner, which is the worst thing you can do other than floor it, I suppose.
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  #12  
Old 12-22-2003, 01:12 AM
rjung rjung is offline
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Turning into the skid always works in Ridge Racer. Get some great cornering times that way.
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  #13  
Old 12-22-2003, 01:44 AM
Diz Diz is offline
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You actually can floor it to recover from oversteer, but only if you have a front wheel drive car. Doing so in a rear wheel drive car will just make you spin even faster. You're not very likely to get into an oversteer situation with a front wheel drive car unless you do something pretty stupid, but if you do, hitting the gas will often pull the car out of the slide. Thats another one of those things you can practice in an empty parking lot. Briefly apply the parking brake to induce a slide and practice using opposite lock and throttle modulation to recover. Again, only with a front wheel drive car though
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  #14  
Old 12-22-2003, 02:50 AM
Chookie Chookie is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by pulykamell
If you have a manual transmission, also depress the clutch as soon as you get into a skid and see how your car reacts. I've had at least one person argue with me on this, but most car authorities I've spoken with have agreed this is good advice. The theory is that if you hit the clutch, the wheels will try to move at the same speed as the ground underneath, rather than the speed of the engine which may be fighting the speed of the ground below (i.e., skidding.)
Yep, you should either hit the clutch or keep the accelerator where it was, at least in a front wheel drive. If you just come off the gas without hitting the clutch the breaking effect of the engine will just exacerbate the skid. If you try to accelerate it will be harder to regain traction.

As others have said, find a parking lot and practice skids.

The next best advice though is to drive slower than you think you need to. Better to not get into the skid in the first place.

Now to actually answer the OP, I've found it's best to correct, ie steer into the skid, to regain traction then finish the turn rather than just waiting to regain traction. The size of the correction is usually pretty small, so probably won't make you approach the cliff much faster than doing nothing.
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  #15  
Old 12-22-2003, 03:02 AM
blowero blowero is offline
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Re: Turning wheels in direction of skid

Quote:
Originally posted by RufusLeaking
My experience on rain-slick roads is that if I "ignore the skid" and keep the wheels pointed in the direction I want to go that the wheels regain traction the skid ends by itself.
But if you do that, you are steering into the skid. If the rear of the car fishtails out to the right, for example, your front wheels will be pointing toward the left side of the road. To keep the wheels pointed "in the direction you want to go", you must turn the wheel to the right, in the direction of the skid. The "direction" of the skid refers to which way the car is sliding, not which way the nose is pointing. Interesting - it never even occurred to me that this could be a point of confusion.
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  #16  
Old 12-22-2003, 03:26 AM
5cents 5cents is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by rjung
Turning into the skid always works in Ridge Racer. Get some great cornering times that way.
Assuming you are driving on loose surfaces (dirt, snow, etc), that's the fastest, tightest, most stable way to corner. It is easiest to see in rally racing (for example, http://www.rallybugs.com/73austrian.htm and http://www.rallybugs.com/73austalp.htm). In both photos the car is turning left, but the front wheels are definitely turned right. The car is essentially sideways the whole way through the corner.

You can do the same on hard surfaces, but you need a lot of power. Gilles Villeneuve was famous for doing this in F1 Ferraris at ungodly speeds.
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  #17  
Old 12-22-2003, 07:32 AM
brad_d brad_d is offline
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I, too, have never lived in a snowy area - I have basically no experience driving in extremely low-grip situations.

I've heard "steer into the skid" ever since I began driving, and I always thought that was ambiguous as hell. I could think of two completely opposite interpretations of that phrase. My car is rotating clockwise. I should turn my wheels "into the skid"...to the right? That seems really friggin' odd...

Later on, in spite of that advice, I figured things out (again, only in the abstract). I had two thoughts upon achieving this clarity:
  1. What else would somebody be tempted to do?
  2. Oh...that's what that catchy advice is trying to say.
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  #18  
Old 12-22-2003, 08:28 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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Let's clarify:

"Steer in the direction of the skid" assumes you're using rear wheel drive.

With rear wheel drive, the rear wheels do the skidding; the back of the car starts moving faster than the front and the car begins to go sideways. If the rear wheels are going to the left, then the proper way to gain control is to steer to the left (the direction of the skid). This lets the front wheels get ahead of the rear wheels again and straightens you out. It may not be the way you want to go.

If you start skidding left when making a right turn, you want to go right, but the way to stop the skid is to steer left. Turning right in that case will only make the skid worse, since the rear wheels will continue to go faster than the front, turning you in a circle.

Front wheel drive cars are the opposite. In them, the skidding wheels are the front wheels. They're already in front of the rear wheels, so in that case, you steer in the direction you want to go, regardless of how you're skidding.
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  #19  
Old 12-22-2003, 08:43 AM
Anachronism Anachronism is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by RealityChuck
Let's clarify:

"Steer in the direction of the skid" assumes you're using rear wheel drive.

With rear wheel drive, the rear wheels do the skidding; the back of the car starts moving faster than the front and the car begins to go sideways. If the rear wheels are going to the left, then the proper way to gain control is to steer to the left (the direction of the skid). This lets the front wheels get ahead of the rear wheels again and straightens you out. It may not be the way you want to go.

If you start skidding left when making a right turn, you want to go right, but the way to stop the skid is to steer left. Turning right in that case will only make the skid worse, since the rear wheels will continue to go faster than the front, turning you in a circle.

Front wheel drive cars are the opposite. In them, the skidding wheels are the front wheels. They're already in front of the rear wheels, so in that case, you steer in the direction you want to go, regardless of how you're skidding.
While a front wheel drive car is much more likley to understeer it is still possible to get oversteer in some situations and you should always steer into the skid or the direction you want to go when oversteering no matter what the drive wheels are. If you are making a turn and the rear wheels begin to skid you will end up turning much tighter than you intended to, by steering into the skid you are attempting to steer in the direction you where origonally attempting to go.

I think 'steer into the skid' is being replaced by 'steer in the direction you want to go' which is a lot clearer IMO. I agree that this feels like the natural thing to do so I don't know why there s so much emphisis on it.
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  #20  
Old 12-22-2003, 09:08 AM
RM Mentock RM Mentock is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by RealityChuck
If you start skidding left when making a right turn, you want to go right, but the way to stop the skid is to steer left. Turning right in that case will only make the skid worse, since the rear wheels will continue to go faster than the front, turning you in a circle.
I don't think that's true. If you are making a right turn and you skid left, you will be headed too far right. So, even though you are making a right turn, the direction you want to go is more to the left.
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  #21  
Old 12-22-2003, 09:51 AM
beajerry beajerry is offline
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It all depends on rear-wheel vs front wheel drive.
The only way to really know is to get a feel for it, because when you're in a skid those little pearls of wisdom are all over the floor mats.
I would suggest going to a large empty parking lot, small airport tarmac, or any such large area when it has snowed (or even better: ice storm with snow on top) and just play around till you get the feel. The 'feel' comes quickly and then you 'know' what to do and your instincts will be sharp on the whole deal.

BTW, it's funny here in Colorado to see all these soccer moms in their giant 4WD SUV's sliding all over and getting stuck while Joe Blow in his little front wheel Escort passes them by, or even better, farmer Brown in his 1968 rear wheel Ford pickup puttering by the stuck SUV up a hill.
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  #22  
Old 12-22-2003, 10:04 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anachronism
While a front wheel drive car is much more likley to understeer it is still possible to get oversteer in some situations and you should always steer into the skid or the direction you want to go when oversteering no matter what the drive wheels are. If you are making a turn and the rear wheels begin to skid you will end up turning much tighter than you intended to, by steering into the skid you are attempting to steer in the direction you where origonally attempting to go.
But with front wheel drive, the front wheels can pull the car out of the skid. And on a right turn on a RWD car, the wheels will skid to the left. If you steer right (the direction you want to go -- you are making a right turn, so the way you want to go is right), it will only increase the skid.

The issue with RWD is that the instinct is to turn the wrong way. With FWD, your instinct is to turn the right way. I've driven both (once I had both RWD and FWD cars in winter, and when I skidded, I had to first remember which one I was using) and the RWD steering is counterintuitive.

Quote:
I think 'steer into the skid' is being replaced by 'steer in the direction you want to go' which is a lot clearer IMO. I agree that this feels like the natural thing to do so I don't know why there s so much emphisis on it.
With FWD, you're right, and since most cars are FWD these days, it is better advice. The rule was made when most cars were RWD and is often repeated without consideration of the differenct.
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Old 12-22-2003, 10:56 AM
Anachronism Anachronism is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by RealityChuck
But with front wheel drive, the front wheels can pull the car out of the skid. And on a right turn on a RWD car, the wheels will skid to the left. If you steer right (the direction you want to go -- you are making a right turn, so the way you want to go is right), it will only increase the skid.
If the rear end begins to slide to left when you are making a right turn you are still making a right turn, just a much sharper turn then you initially intended to, hence - oversteer. By turning the front wheels to the left you are turning towards your origonal, not as sharp, right turn.

Quote:
Originally posted by RealityChuck

The issue with RWD is that the instinct is to turn the wrong way. With FWD, your instinct is to turn the right way. I've driven both (once I had both RWD and FWD cars in winter, and when I skidded, I had to first remember which one I was using) and the RWD steering is counterintuitive.

With FWD, you're right, and since most cars are FWD these days, it is better advice. The rule was made when most cars were RWD and is often repeated without consideration of the differenct.
I have also owned and driven FWD and RWD in snow and fooled around in snowy parking lots with both. The drive wheels do not matter, if the back end is sliding out you steer in the direction you want to go. It feels very intuitive to me with either.

Here is a picture of a rear wheel drive race car in an oversteer (back end sliding out) situation. You can clearly see the front wheels are turned into the skid and pointing down the track where the driver wants to go. The car is pointing towards the inside corner because the rear end slid out and caused the car to turn tighter than origonally intended. If no correction where made the car would drive off the inside of the turn or spin out. If this where a front wheel drive car in the same situation the same steering corrections would need to be made.

This diagram shows how the driver got in that situation and how the car is turning tighter than its intended path due to oversteer.
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  #24  
Old 12-22-2003, 04:06 PM
Flash-57 Flash-57 is offline
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> Th most common mistake for inexpierienced drivers is to overcorrect
> and start fishtailing in the oppisite direction

That's not always a bad thing, since spinning out will use up a lot of the kinetic energy of your car. A hard spin can bring a car to a quick stop.

The problem, of course, is that in a spin, you don't really have control over your direction or what you might hit. It certainly is better to regain full control of your car.

I'm just saying that a spin isn't, by itself, a bad thing.
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  #25  
Old 12-23-2003, 01:56 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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RealityChuck... a "skid" is by definition having the back end step out, whether the car is F or RWD. Understeer, which is what you'll get nine times out of ten in a front wheel drive car isn't a skid, per se... its a loss of grip at the wrong end.
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  #26  
Old 12-23-2003, 11:11 AM
zwede zwede is offline
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When you're actually experiencing a slide you won't have time to remember rules of how to turn the wheel. The reaction has to be a reflex, not conscious thought.

Here's a link to a realistic driving simulator:

Live for speed

You can download the demo version for free which is the fully featured game, with some tracks and cars locked. The demo version includes both FWD and RWD cars. It will teach you how they differ in skids and how skid recovery is different between them.

Once you are confident in the simulator/game you can go for the empty parking lot.

/Markus
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  #27  
Old 12-23-2003, 11:31 AM
Jeff Lichtman Jeff Lichtman is offline
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For a rear-wheel skid, the advice to steer into the skid is sort of pointless. A driver's natural reaction is to do this anyway, to keep the car going where the driver wants it to go. The hard part about rear-wheel skids is not in knowing which way to turn the wheel, but in doing it both quickly and subtly enough to keep the car under control.

For a front-wheel skid (or whatever you want to call it, dutchboy208), the driver must straighten the front wheels and wait for the wheels to start rolling normally again before re-starting the turn. This is counter-intuitive. A driver's natural reaction when the front end starts to plow is to turn the wheel more. It takes discipline and training to regain control of a car in this situation.

It's also important to stay off the brakes whenever you lose traction. This is another thing that requires discipline and training. Most drivers' natural reaction is to hit the brakes whenever something goes wrong.
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  #28  
Old 12-23-2003, 12:30 PM
enipla enipla is offline
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Quote:
BTW, it's funny here in Colorado to see all these soccer moms in their giant 4WD SUV's sliding all over and getting stuck while Joe Blow in his little front wheel Escort passes them by, or even better, farmer Brown in his 1968 rear wheel Ford pickup puttering by the stuck SUV up a hill.

In the Colorado that I live, 2 wheel drive, especially 2 wheel drive trucks are all but worthless in the snow. When my Dad moved here I tried to get him to buy 4 wheel drive. Even offered to cover the cost. He didn't think it was worth it. Now he really is paying for it.
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