How to Correct a Fishtailing Car
If you’ve ever driven in the snow or other slippery conditions before, you likely have experienced rear-wheel slippage, which is more commonly referred to as “fishtailing.” It’s quite common, especially in vehicles that aren’t equipped with four- or all-wheel drive. Fishtailing can be extremely dangerous, especially at higher rates of speed. The good thing, however, is that it can easily be corrected, and if done so properly, you can avoid some serious problems. To help you prepare for the next time that those rear wheels get away from you, we have decided to provide you with the steps of how to correct a fishtailing car.
No matter what the road conditions are like, if your car’s rear end begins to fishtail, you must always turn in the same direction that the rear end is fish-tailing. By turning the same way, the correction will force the rear end to return to where it belongs, and will allow the car to keep heading straight. This means, if the rear end of your car begins to fishtail to the left, steer into the drift by turning the wheel left just enough to keep yourself straight. If the back end is drifting to the right, then turn to the right.
If you start the correction as soon as you feel the wheels slip, it’s not likely that you will have to turn the wheel very hard. It’s better to start the correction as early as you can, and to be calm about it. If you crank on the wheel right away, the rear end will likely just fishtail in the other direction and you will have to continue steering violently which can lead to significant problems.
The other step that you must know is that you should never slam on the brakes when your car begins to fishtail. Instead, reduce your rate of speed by taking your foot off of the gas pedal. By hitting the brakes, the momentum of the moving car needs to go somewhere, and it will all be sent to the moving rear end which will cause the vehicle to turn completely sideways or spin out of control.
If you take anything from the above information, just always remember to 1) steer the car in the same direction that the rear end is fishtailing, and 2) when the car begins to fishtail, let off the gas pedal, but don’t hit the brakes. However, if you do enter a fishtail, it’s a good sign that you’re traveling too fast for the conditions, so be sure to reduce your rate of speed once you correct the fishtailing car.
If you find yourself fishtailing more than you probably should be, we recommend that you take a look at our new and used car inventory where we have a ton of affordable SUVs that are equipped with four- and all-wheel drive. For more winter driving and car care tips, check out our latest blog post where we have compiled our complete list of winter driving-themed posts.