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Useful friction and reducing friction

Friction can be a useful force because it prevents our shoes slipping on the pavement when we walk and stops car tyres skidding on the road.

When you walk, friction is caused between the tread on shoes and the ground. This friction acts to grip the ground and prevent sliding.

A shoe tread

Ice causes very little friction, which is why it is easy to slip over on an icy day. However this is a good thing for ice skating and sledging.

Reducing friction

Sometimes we want to reduce friction. For example, we use oil to reduce the friction between the moving parts inside a car engine. The oil holds the surfaces apart, and can flow between them. The reduced friction means there is less wear on the car's moving parts, and less heat produced.

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