You may notice while driving on highways, when it’s windy your car might get tossed around, sometimes violently, and may even careen into another lane. For these situations it’s important to stay alert, and know what to do when your car starts doing something unexpected and is suddenly a lot harder to control.
Without going too deep into the physics of vehicle aerodynamics, a normal road car will be affected by sideways wind and the speed of the vehicle is going to determine just how affected it’s going to be. Therefore a simple measure you can take to mitigate the dangers of losing control of your vehicle in windy situations is to first slow down.
Concentrate on where your car is going. If ever there was a wrong time to check text messages or look away from the road, it’s while driving in the wind. Cars will be pushed by the wind and sometimes it’s so gradual you might not even notice until it’s too late. Keep a tight grip on the steering, and make sure you’re in total control of the car. If it starts to drift into another lane, don’t panic. Instead gingerly ease back into your lane. At freeway speeds, if you jerk the car around it could lose traction and spin out or even worse, it could flip over.
Head and tail wind is when the wind is coming at you either from in front or behind. Either way, it’s not going to hinder car control as much as the sideways wind will. In headwind you may feel lots of resistance going forward, that is air blowing against the direction the car is going, called drag. Drag could, in turn, lead you to give the car more gas in order to maintain your speed, which will, of course, reduce gas mileage. Unfortunately, if you’re strapped for time and can’t afford to slow down, drag can’t be combated without some serious aerodynamic bodywork designed to reduce drag, like a front diffuser or rear spoiler. Tail wind is less noticeable but can be more difficult to deal with, as the wind is pushing your car. This is another area where paying attention comes in handy.
If your car has a lot of horsepower but no aerodynamic drag, that could be a problem if you want to go fast in the wind. To avoid an accident, spend some money on aerodynamics, so the car can use the wind to create downforce and therefore keep your car planted and thus it won’t lose traction as easily. The car will become more stable.
Regardless of what kind of car you drive, be sure to mind your surroundings. The best way to not get caught by the wind is to expect it. There are also apps used by pilots and motorcyclists to see what direction the wind is going and how fast, to better prepare riding or flying routes. We recommend WindAlert, available for both iOS and Android. It’s simple, free and easy to use.
Not your typical used car salesman. Our team is here to provide honest and transparent advice about car buying and selling.