Skidding - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

General Discussion Topics must pertain to all 3 generations of SLK - R170, R171 and R172

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#1 Old 10-08-2014
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Skidding

Hello

I have had a shake-up today. I was driving into town and was going straight across a large roundabout that was empty. I accelerated (as was in almost a straight line and the space was clear) then it was as if the accelerator went into kick down mode and I skidded ... ie temporarily lost control.
I have just phoned up my local MB garage for advice. They suggested it may be a one-off (perhaps oil on the road?) and said to check for warning lights on dash (none) and if it reoccurs to take it in for a health check. They queried tyre depth etc, and car had been fully serviced, checked and MOT 4 weeks ago at the time I bought it from a recognised MB dealer.
All appears to be sound advice. A wake up call and maybe my driving was at fault. But a shake up all the same. Any comments or advice out there, for a novice SLK driver (incidentally I have been driving cars for a long time but this is my first MB).
Thanks - and I am looking forward to hearing from you
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#2 Old 10-08-2014
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@Adrienne,

Sorry to hear you had a bit of a shake-up in your SLK today. It sounds like the MB dealer discussed some of the potential issues with you.

I know that the weather we've been having here in the UK Midlands recently has been somewhat 'mixed'... i.e. some sunny/dry spells, and also various damp/very wet spells too. This can often result in slippery road surfaces, especially on roundabouts where just a little oil/diesel on the surface can make it very slick, particularly when there's also some rain/water too (even if it's only a drizzle, or something that's left from an earlier rain shower).

Also, I know that you've been driving cars for a long time, but how many of the cars you've driven before were rear wheel drive? The handling of a rear wheel drive car, particularly under moderate to heavy acceleration, is very different to front wheel drive cars. If you are relatively new to rear wheel drive cars, I can recommend doing a 'skid' driving experience, as I know that I found that useful when I did one some time ago.

It's also worth checking your tyre pressures regularly too, as loss of pressure can be dangerous and affect the handling significantly too.

Finally, the only other thing I can suggest to check is that if you have an auto gearbox, to make sure that it's in 'C' mode most of the time, rather than 'S' mode (C is for comfort and economy, and S is for a sportier response and gear-change).

I'm sure there will be others with more experience than me along soon to offer more advice too...

I hope it hasn't affected the enjoyment of driving your SLK!
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#3 Old 10-08-2014
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Sounds like oil or coolant on the road causing a traction loss. Did the ESP warning triangle illuminate? It should have, based on what you described, and it will keep you from sliding out of control. Your SLK 200 doesn't have enough power to overcome the computer's decisions unless you have shut it off on the dash and are keeping the throttle pinned. It will allow a little slide in cornering, because it's a sports car after all. The SLK is pretty benign at the limit, and lifting off the gas just a little bit will bring the back end back in line. The car can be balanced on the throttle, so you can use oversteer (rear slides to the outside of the turn) to get the car pointed, then lift throttle to straighten out and accelerate again in a straight line. The recommendation for a skid car course is one I highly endorse. I've done it, and it's well worth it. For me, it had the side effect of getting me interested in autocross, but that's another story.
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#4 Old 10-08-2014
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Originally Posted by dbgrn View Post
@Adrienne,

Sorry to hear you had a bit of a shake-up in your SLK today. It sounds like the MB dealer discussed some of the potential issues with you.

I know that the weather we've been having here in the UK Midlands recently has been somewhat 'mixed'... i.e. some sunny/dry spells, and also various damp/very wet spells too. This can often result in slippery road surfaces, especially on roundabouts where just a little oil/diesel on the surface can make it very slick, particularly when there's also some rain/water too (even if it's only a drizzle, or something that's left from an earlier rain shower).

Also, I know that you've been driving cars for a long time, but how many of the cars you've driven before were rear wheel drive? The handling of a rear wheel drive car, particularly under moderate to heavy acceleration, is very different to front wheel drive cars. If you are relatively new to rear wheel drive cars, I can recommend doing a 'skid' driving experience, as I know that I found that useful when I did one some time ago.

It's also worth checking your tyre pressures regularly too, as loss of pressure can be dangerous and affect the handling significantly too.

Finally, the only other thing I can suggest to check is that if you have an auto gearbox, to make sure that it's in 'C' mode most of the time, rather than 'S' mode (C is for comfort and economy, and S is for a sportier response and gear-change).

I'm sure there will be others with more experience than me along soon to offer more advice too...

I hope it hasn't affected the enjoyment of driving your SLK!
Hi Dave

Thanks for your thoughtful email which is reassuring. Also the idea of doing a "skid" driving experience might be very good for me! NB the car is set to C mode, but I take your point that the varied weather we've been having in the Midlands could have made the roads more slippery. And also the spot-on point re driving a rear-wheel car versus front wheel manuals.

I was en route to the dentist at the time, so luckily had something immediately to focus on other than my "incident." However I was given a clean bill of health and I drove back home in my SLK, quite contented.

Kind regards
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#5 Old 10-08-2014
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Hi Beekster

Thank you for your thoughts on this one. Alas because I was so focused on getting the car under control, I didn't look at the dash for any warning lights

However the recommendation of a skid course is a good one, not least as I'm sure it will be confidence building as well as good fun!

Kind regards
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#6 Old 10-08-2014
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After reading this thread I think I too will do a skid course, as this is my first RWD car. A few days ago I would feel the car skid when I went over the paint of a crosswalk (fat white lines), and still do feel it I bit when I go over the cable car tracks - both in a straight line.
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#7 Old 10-08-2014
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Originally Posted by gilafro View Post
After reading this thread I think I too will do a skid course, as this is my first RWD car. A few days ago I would feel the car skid when I went over the paint of a crosswalk (fat white lines), and still do feel it I bit when I go over the cable car tracks - both in a straight line.
Hello

Are you from Bulgaria (noticed the Sofia location and the national flag). I've been over many times - lovely country - but the roads mostly leave a lot to be desired re maintaining good condition! I imagine you may have a few challenges driving out there, but things are gradually improving - eg new motorway stretch out of Sofia to Rila is very good. And unlike Britain, not many cars on the road so it's more like driving in the 60s or 70s.

Kind regards
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#8 Old 10-08-2014
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Originally Posted by Adrienne View Post
Hello

I have had a shake-up today. I was driving into town and was going straight across a large roundabout that was empty. I accelerated (as was in almost a straight line and the space was clear) then it was as if the accelerator went into kick down mode and I skidded ... ie temporarily lost control.
I have just phoned up my local MB garage for advice. They suggested it may be a one-off (perhaps oil on the road?) and said to check for warning lights on dash (none) and if it reoccurs to take it in for a health check. They queried tyre depth etc, and car had been fully serviced, checked and MOT 4 weeks ago at the time I bought it from a recognised MB dealer.
All appears to be sound advice. A wake up call and maybe my driving was at fault. But a shake up all the same. Any comments or advice out there, for a novice SLK driver (incidentally I have been driving cars for a long time but this is my first MB).
Thanks - and I am looking forward to hearing from you
Sorry about the "shake up" Much as been covered about weather condition, tires pressure, etc, But my imput is you said you went straight across a large roundabout which I would guess doesn't happen a lot. Love roundabouts, but have only driven in UK a few times. As cars go around the roundabout there must be dirt and other stuff that builds up in the middle and with you hitting the gas, as you where maybe just coming out of that area, your rear wheels might have lost some traction. But why didn't your traction control kick in.

Here in the US we have what are called High Speed Drivers Education track events, which really meens, get in you car and drive as fast as you can, but you do learn some car control and other important things like lhooking ahead, seating position, mirror settings and your ability to drive and know your car. As an instructor, I never thought we taught our students enough about skid control and real world driving.

If you have a chance to go to a "skid control" school or weekend event, do it, learn and have fun.
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#9 Old 10-08-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gilafro View Post
After reading this thread I think I too will do a skid course, as this is my first RWD car. A few days ago I would feel the car skid when I went over the paint of a crosswalk (fat white lines), and still do feel it I bit when I go over the cable car tracks - both in a straight line.
Yep. That can happen in any car, regardless of which wheels are driven. The shiny, reflective paint doesn't have the same grip as asphalt or concrete. And the bare steel and open gaps of railway tracks act much the same way.

The big key to a skid car course is that everything happens slowly, much more slowly than in a panicked moment on the open road in rain or snow. The instructor/controller can lift the car so that on bare pavement at fifteen miles per hour a lovely, lurid, full-on sideways opposite-lock slide can be induced. And since it happens slowly, the driver has time to react and correct. And learn how much to correct, so you don't send the car the other direction in oscillation. As you learn, the speeds come up. Nothing really fast, but enough so that your reaction time has to increase to keep up with the car. And as with anything, practice improves performance.

I'll also recommend an autocross school, whether or not you ever intend to compete. Autocross is all about car control and managing transitions (weight transfer) swiftly and precisely. If you get it wrong, the worst you'll do is punt a few orange traffic cones. If you get it right, it's fabulous fun, and you learn quite a lot about what you and your car can do together. Hint: A lot more than you think, and a lot more than you should ever attempt on public roads. And all well below typical freeway speeds.

And finally, for those here in the USA, I'll make a plug for joining the Mercedes-Benz Club of America. They have a Defensive Driving course of both classroom and on-track instruction that does much of what an autocross school does, without any emphasis on hitting the perfect apex and minimizing your elapsed time. Sure, the instructors will set up an autocross after the course for those interested, but it's not required. If you choose to autocross afterwards, you can think of of being like that scene in The Sound of Music where Julie Andrews teaches the kids the Do-Re-Mi notes, and then puts them together in a song. The defensive driving course elements all prepare you to put it all together in an autocross run.
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#10 Old 10-08-2014
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Hi all

It does like some sort of liquid on the road maybe some diesel , we have around about by us that's always has diesel all over it (damn lorries) . Is this your first rear drive car ???

Cheers

Andy
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#11 Old 10-08-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrienne View Post
<-- snip -->
Also the idea of doing a "skid" driving experience might be very good for me!
<-- snip -->
And also the spot-on point re driving a rear-wheel car versus front wheel manuals.
<-- snip -->
I was given a clean bill of health and I drove back home in my SLK, quite contented.
It's great to hear you were still happy driving the car afterwards

If you are thinking about doing a skid control course of some kind to give you a little more confidence at handling situations such as this, it might be wise to think about doing it before our winter sets in...

My 18 year old son (who had a similar, but somewhat more damaging, incident on a roundabout in his RWD MX5 a couple of weeks ago) is already booked onto a skid control experience at Silverstone later this month.
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#12 Old 10-08-2014
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Did the roundabout have a dome centre or cobbled shoulder - both would cause the inside tire to break loose (as would the marbles and fluids mentioned above). Lastly, time of day? Met?


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#13 Old 10-09-2014
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Hi Dave

Thanks - I thought it may be Silverstone that's nearest for the Midlands - could be a good Xmas present from my nearest and dearest
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#14 Old 10-15-2014
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Hiya I think we all need to remember no what SLK you have there is a lot of poke in it its a sports car I have got a 350 auto and it goes like hell when I want it to dry road ect
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#15 Old 10-15-2014
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An empty parking lot is a good "skid course" for learning. Get a chance to see how the car behaves in the wet or snow.
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#16 Old 10-17-2014
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Rainy day the other day - wet roads. Made a U-turn at a speed a little faster than I probably should have - had a little skid and the warning light came on, so I wouldn't worry too much about your skid I don't think.

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