Hydroplaning, or aquaplaning, occurs when a car’s tires start riding on a layer of standing water. In effect, the car loses all traction as the tires are spinning on the water rather than making direct contact with the ground. This causes a situation where the driver can lose control of the vehicle’s steering, acceleration, and braking.
While hydroplaning can be a harrowing experience, there are many things you can do to prevent hydroplaning. Here are some tips for preventing and correcting hydroplaning.
Recognize when you’re hydroplaning
If your car starts to hydroplane, you can probably tell because of certain signs, including:
- Small turns of the steering wheel have no effect; micro-corrections don’t really do anything (since the car really can’t turn as there is no direct contact with the ground)
- The engine may get louder as RPM’s increase because the wheels are spinning faster.
- The steering wheel may begin to shake as the wheels are spinning on a layer of water rather than the concrete
There are several steps and precautions you should take in order to minimize the chances of hydroplaning. These include:
- Reduce your speed - hydroplaning is most common at speeds above 35 mph; the faster your speed, the greater the risk of hydroplaning
- Avoid sudden braking and sudden accelerations (such as when passing a car)
- Maintain your tires properly - Tires with worn tread grooves will hydroplane more easily than tires with proper grip. Under-inflated tires are dangerous too, as are tires that have not been properly rotated and balanced
- Avoid visible pools of water - Some lanes may have visible ruts or grooves where water collects; you should avoid such pools. Water also tends to collect in the outer lanes. Avoid traveling on routes that are subject to constant flooding
- Don’t use cruise control- This can cause more difficulties when reacting in an emergency situation
- Purchase tires designed for rainy conditions- some tire manufacturers produce tires designed to reduce hydroplaning
You should do your best to slow down and drive safely in all rain conditions; even a thin film or layer of water can cause hydroplaning, not just deep pools.
How to Recover if You’re Hydroplaning
If you ever do find yourself hydroplaning, take the following steps:
- Reduce speed by taking your foot of the gas avoid braking as it can cause immediate skidding
- Correct steering: If you car has begun drifting, turn your wheel slightly if you can into the direction you’re drifting. This may help the tires align with the car’s direction and reconnect with the road sooner. This might not always be possible, because sometimes steering doesn’t work when hydroplaning
- Wait for tires to reconnect with the road—you should be able to feel the moment when your tires regain contact with the road surface
- If needed, pull over or exit the highway if you need a moment to calm down and regain composure
Hydroplaning can be a scary experience, but there are definitely ways to make your car safer during the rainy months. Contact us at Convoy Auto Repair for all your car’s servicing needs. Our experienced mechanics can help make suggestions and installations for tires that can help reduce hydroplaning. This is especially crucial if you’ll be traveling through rainy places this season. We also have complete car-check up offers to help keep your entire car in tip-top shape.