How To Avoid Fishtailing
When the rear end of a vehicle slides back and forth, this is known as fishtailing. It usually involves only the rear wheels and happens when the tires lose traction on the road surface. It is the result of a driver losing control of the vehicle and can be very dangerous, although it isn’t always a sign of bad driving. Hidden conditions like black ice can cause a responsible driver to fishtail even when he or she drives perfectly. Generally, fishtailing is more common among vehicles with rear wheel drive, although front wheel drive vehicles are not exempt from this problem.
There are several things that can cause fishtailing. Conditions like ice, water, and snow can cause a car to fishtail because they reduce traction on the roadway, which can cause the rear wheels of a vehicle to slide out of control. The risk of fishtailing also increases at high speeds, or when a driver brakes very suddenly. In some cases, a car may start to fishtail when a driver approaches a curve poorly. Drivers who deliberately fishtail usually try to turn the fishtail into a slide, as is the case with people who engage in drifting.
Fishtailing can be a scary experience for a driver. The whole car tends to shake and wobble, and it will drift out of control across the roadway since the rear wheels have lost their traction. In some cases, a bout of fishtailing can cause a car to turn completely around, or it can launch a car into a lane of oncoming traffic. It is also sometimes possible to hear the gas in the tank sloshing around, which is why some people call fishtailing “tank slapping.”
To recover from a fishtail, drivers should stop accelerating and steer in the direction of the skid as best they can. The wheel should not be yanked or jerked, as this can cause the fishtail to get worse. Sharp or sudden braking should also be avoided as this can make the skid worse too. It is better to ease off the gas and then pump brakes lightly, but quickly. Steer in the direction of which the rear end of the vehicle is skidding and be careful NOT to over steer. For drivers who start fishtailing in traffic, it is a good idea to try and direct the skid to the side of the road so that they are not thrust into the path of oncoming cars. (Note: if you have a stick shift, keep the clutch engaged.)
Ideally, of course, drivers should avoid fishtailing altogether. If you know that you are going to be driving on low friction roads, drive slowly, avoid sudden braking, and take turns slowly, accelerating out of the turn to increase your traction. If you live in a region which is prone to black ice, try to avoid driving in the early morning and evening, when black ice is at its worst.
If you have a stick-shift, keep the clutch engaged.
IF YOU GET INTO A LOCKED WHEEL SKID A locked wheel skid is usually caused by a person braking too hard at a high rate of speed and locking the wheels. The vehicle will skid no matter which way the steering wheel is turned until you release the brakes to unlock the wheels. Then, straighten the front wheels as the vehicle begins to straighten out. Slow the vehicle gradually until you are at a safe speed to continue your trip.
STEERING WHEEL LOCKING DEVICE Never turn your vehicle’s ignition to the “lock” position while it is still in motion. This will cause the steering to lock if you try to turn the steering wheel and you will lose control of your vehicle. Chronic traffic congestion is the California commuter’s biggest headache, but even small changes in driving habits could provide fast relief, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
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