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Tips to Avoid Spinning Out on an Icy Road

Published: November 2018

If you live in a climate with cold winters, you may run the risk of encountering icy roads. Even if you're an experienced driver, it's a good idea to take precautions to help prevent your car from spinning out on slick pavement.

Slippery road sign with snow on ground.

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Preparing to Drive on Icy Roads

Winter tires may help give your car additional traction when you drive on snow or ice, Popular Mechanics says. The treads on winter tires are designed to better grip the road while accelerating, stopping or turning.

In some areas, you may be legally required to use tire chains in snowy or icy conditions, even if you have snow tires, Consumer Reports says. In other areas, tire chains may be prohibited. It's a good idea to check the laws in the areas in which you'll be driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it's important to plan ahead before you head out into wintry conditions. You may want to have your car inspected to help ensure your battery's power is sufficient, your lights are functioning and your car's fluids are adequate, the NHTSA suggests. It may also help to practice driving on ice in low-traffic areas, like empty parking lots, before you need to use main roads.

Stocking a winter emergency kit for your car may also prove useful if you find yourself in an unexpected situation.

Driving on Icy Roads

If you encounter ice on the road, drive slowly, the NHSTA says. Be sure to keep plenty of space between your car and the one ahead of you to help give you more time to stop, too.

Even the most prepared driver can find themselves beginning to spin on a patch of ice. If the front end of your car begins to slide, do not try to speed up or slam on the brakes. Instead, ease your foot off the accelerator and hold the steering wheel until your car slows down, Edmunds says. If the back end of your car starts to slide, turn your steering wheel in the direction of the slide without hitting the brake, Consumer Reports advises. Be careful not to turn the wheel too far, though, as that may cause your car to spin.

To stop, it's important to use your brakes properly, the NHSTA says. If your car has anti-lock brakes, apply firm and continuous pressure to the brake pedal. If your vehicle does not have anti-lock brakes, you'll typically need to pump the brake pedal to help prevent your wheels from locking.

Of course, it's always smart to avoid driving in winter conditions whenever possible. If you must drive in the ice and snow, check local weather warnings before leaving and keep the radio tuned to a local channel for the latest traffic alerts. Then, armed with some preparedness tips, carefully begin your drive.

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Our pages are filled with helpful tips and information about the topics that most of us face in our everyday lives. We focus on safety and maintenance issues with regard to your home, auto, apartment, motorcycle, boat, small business, finances and more. Please recognize that a particular tip may not be effective in every circumstance and that taking preventive measures cannot guarantee any outcome. We encourage you to use your own good judgment about what's appropriate for you and your property and always consider safety.
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