How to Avoid Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning is a term for when your car begins to slide across a wet surface. The tread on your tires is meant to keep stable contact between your tires and the road. When there is too much water for your tires to disperse, a thin layer of water will get between your tires and the road. This will cause a loss of traction and make it much more difficult to control the vehicle. Here are some tips on how to avoid hydroplaning.

  • Slow down when driving in wet conditions. Your chances of hydroplaning increase when driving at speeds in excess of 35mph. Slowing down will give your tires the time they need to get rid of that water on the road.
  • Rotate and balance your tires regularly. The key to keeping good traction on the road is to maintain good tread on your tires. The best way to do this is by regularly rotating and balancing your tires. For most vehicles, tire rotations are recommended every 6,000 miles.
  • Make sure your tires have adequate tread. Deep tread helps your tires better grip the road. The deeper grooves can channel more water and prevent loss of traction. As your tires wear, those grooves become more shallow, eventually leading to reduced performance. While 2/32″ of tread is the lowest legal level in most states, tire performance diminishes well before that level. Many manufacturers recommend replacing tires when the tread depth reaches 4/32″.
  • Maintain proper tire pressure. Tires are designed to function at a specific tire pressure. Inflating your tires too much, or not enough, can result in loss of traction. You can keep a tire gauge in your car to check your tire pressure. Also, any Plaza Tire Service location will gladly check your tire pressure at no charge.
  • Turn off cruise control in the rain. If a vehicle begins to hydroplane while cruise control is activated, the tire that has lost traction will continue to receive power, which can lead to a loss of control.
  • Avoid puddles or standing water. This larger volume of water under your tires makes hydroplaning even more likely.
  • Follow the same path as the car in front of you. Let the person in front of you clear out some water. The less water your tires need to flush, the better traction you will maintain.

By following these simple steps, you can reduce the risk of hydroplaning. Sometimes, despite your best effort, hydroplaning may still occur. If it does, remain calm. Ease your foot off the accelerator and let the vehicle slow down on its own; the temptation is to slam on the brakes, but that can make the loss of control more severe. Keep your hands firmly on the wheel and steer the vehicle in the direction you want to go.

Enjoy this spring and stay safe out there on the roads. Happy driving!