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How to Regain Control of a Vehicle in a Skid

How to Regain Control of a Vehicle in a Skid

Whether you’re studying for your driving test or refreshing your memory, knowing how to handle your vehicle in a skid is essential. Did you know that over 70% of the nation’s roads are in snowy regions, according to the Federal Highway Administration? Based on that statistic alone, there’s a chance of your car skidding on the road at some point. Continue reading to learn about the different kinds of skids, how to regain steering control in a skid, and how it affects car insurance.

Front-Wheel and Rear-Wheel Skids

Drivers believe a particular drivetrain determines how to regain control of their vehicle when it’s skidding. Drivetrain means your car is FWD, RWD, AWD, or 4WD. When regaining steering control, it doesn’t matter whether your vehicle has front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or four-wheel drive. The vehicle will skid for the same reasons regardless of the power train, including:

  • Slick road conditions such as snow, ice, or rain
  • Accelerating or braking too hard
  • Driving too fast in a curve
  • Worn and improperly maintained tires
  • Wheels lock up and stop spinning

The only difference between a front-wheel and a rear-wheel skid is you can’t steer during a front-wheel skid. Don’t panic. These skids are safer because there is no chance of the vehicle skidding in the opposite direction.

Steer Vehicle Into The Skid When Driving to Regain Control

What does it mean to steer into the skid? If you are driving and the rear end of a car starts skidding to the left, you should gently steer left. This will keep the vehicle going in the proper direction during a fishtail. Drivers must steer gently because if not, they will overcorrect, making the skid worst. Do not understeer either. Here are additional tips to help regain control in skids:

  • Be sure to stay calm to think clearly and react rationally.
  • Remove your foot from the gas, brake, or clutch.
  • Typically skids happen in an instant for a second, so you can ride it out with no problem.
  • In a prolonged skid, keep both hands on the wheel and steer the vehicle in the direction you want it to go
  • If you have ABS, you can brake normally but gently
  • If you do not have ABS, gently pump your brakes to unlock your wheels

Pop quiz: To regain control of a vehicle in a skid __________.

  1. Let go of the wheel and let the car figure it out.
  2. Take your foot off the accelerator, brake, or clutch
  3. Apply your brakes hard to regain traction
  4. Give it gas and see what happens

Answer: B

Skidding Accidents And Auto Insurance

Skids can affect your driving record, which affects how you get insured. If you make too many claims or have an auto insurance claim made against you, your provider can drop you as a client. This will make it difficult to get auto coverage and raise your rate. To protect your finances and driving record, there are additional precautions drivers can take to help prevent an accident if they lose control on the road in a skid.

  • Take an alternate route with better-maintained roads
  • Maintain extra distance between you and the driver in front of you
  • Drive slower than the standard speed limit
  • Drive defensively on the road
  • Get tire maintenance service regularly
    • Inflated
    • Rotated
    • Check tread depth with a penny test


What should you do to control a vehicle in a skid?

  • Keep calm
  • Remove foot from accelerator, brake, or clutch
  • Steer in the direction you want to go
  • Ride it out until the traction returns
  • Find a safe place to pull over and regain composure
  • Continue driving at a reduced speed

For more safe road driving, auto insurance tips, and auto insurance FAQs, view our Learning Center. Do you have a hard time finding a provider and need cheap car insurance coverage? Call an Insurance Navy agent at (888) 949-6289 to receive a free quote.

Updated: November 2023

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