Black ice is a transparent coating of ice, found especially on a road or other paved surface. The term black ice means the ice is so thin it looks invisible and tends to look like the rest of the road. Knowing how to spot it and protect yourself is very important, especially since winter is almost upon us.

Know where to expect it

Check your weather reports and highway reports to see what areas are more likely to have black ice. Black ice usually forms most commonly at night or early morning when the temperatures are at their lowest. It also usually form on roads without sunshine and roads that are less traveled on, due to the lack of warmth from the sun and tires. If you are driving and you see cars swerving for no apparent reason, it could likely be black ice.


You can “sometimes” see black ice, in the right conditions and you are looking for it. It forms a smooth, glossy sheet, compared to the rest of the dull road, this can be a sign of black ice ahead. You can’t always see black ice but looking for it won’t hurt. It can actually help you stay focused on the driving conditions ahead of you better. Practicing your driving on slippery surfaces in a safe area like a parking lot and practicing braking can show you how your brakes work in those conditions and the proper amount of time to leave before braking and accelerating.

What to do on black ice

Avoid overreacting and stay calm. Do as little as possible and allow the car to pass over the ice, don’t hit your brakes, jerk the wheel or accelerate quickly. If you feel the cars rear sliding either left or right, make slight turns of the steering wheel in the same direction. If you struggle to the other direction, you risk skidding or spinning out. Slow down and de-accelerate, take your foot off the gas and keep your wheel fixed in the position it was in. Lower gear can also give you more control if you have the option to switch into it. If you see areas of tration (snow, pavement, textured areas) you can head to those areas on the road to get more traction.

What happens if I skid

Hopefully you are going slow, if so it will be easier. Stay calm, black ice is often (not always) patchy, so sometime your tires will find traction again. Use the LEAST amount of braking possible. But, some braking will be required if skidding a lot. If you have anti lock brake system (ABS), apply firm pressure on the brakes, the car will pump the brakes for you. If you don’t have ABS, pump the brakes GENTLY. Steer the car in the direction you want to go. If you end up going off the road, try to steer into things that will cause minimal damage, you may not have much choice of where you can steer however.

Prevention of an accident

To prevent a accident with black ice you can do many things such as:

– Go to your local dealer Alta Nissan Richmond Hill to check if your tires tread is worn down, which can lead to less traction on roads and ice and can lead to an accident. We currently have a promotion that is running from November 1st to December 31st

– Travel slowly

– Don’t tailgate

– Keep your windshield and top of car clear of ice, snow, etc

– Turn on your headlights early in the afternoon to help you see any possible sheen from ice

– Turn off your cruise control in icy conditions

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