Fishtailing is a vehicle handling problem which occurs when the rear wheels lose traction, resulting in oversteer. This can be caused by low friction surfaces (sand, gravel, rain, snow).

During fishtailing, the rear end of the car skids to one side, which must be offset by the driver counter-steering, which is turning the front wheels in the same direction as the skid, (e.g. left if the rear swings left) and reducing engine power. Over-correction will result in a skid in the opposite direction; hence the name. Without a proper driver's reaction, the fishtailing vehicle will spin completely.

Friction is the main reason this action is effective. If a car is moving across a surface in any direction other than the direction it is pointed, it is skidding (or sliding), and a sideways load is being imposed against the tires.

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