Hydroplaning, or aquaplaning, occurs when a vehicle’s tires begin riding on a layer of standing water, resulting in the car to lose all traction as the tires are spinning on the water rather than making direct contact with the road. This can cause a scenario where the driver loses control of the car’s steering, acceleration and braking. Hydroplaning can be harrowing experience, but there are many things you can do to prevent hydroplaning. With the rainy season upon us, preventing hydroplaning is crucial for your safety, as well others around you. Here are a few tips for preventing and correcting hydroplaning.
Recognize When You Are Hydroplaning
If your vehicle begins 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 vehicle really can’t turn as there is no direct contact with the ground)
- The engine may get louder as RPMs increase because the wheels are spinning faster.
- The steering wheel may start to shake as the wheels are spinning on a layer of water rather than the concrete.
There are a few steps and precautions to take to minimize the chances of hydroplaning. These include:
- Reduce your speed. Hydroplaning most commonly occurs 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 containing worn tread grooves will hydroplane more easily than tires with proper grip. Under-infated tires are also dangerous, as are tires that have not been properly rotated and balanced.
- Avoid visible puddles of water. Some lanes may have visible ruts or grooves where water collects; such puddles should be avoided. In addition, water tends to collect in the outer lanes. Avoid traveling on roads that are subject to constant flooding.
- Don’t use cruise control. Using cruise control 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 result in hydroplaning, not just deep puddles.
How to Recover if You Are Hydroplaning
If you ever do find yourself in a situation where you are hydroplaning, take the following steps:
- Reduce your speed by taking your foot of the gas; avoid braking as it may cause immediate skidding.
- Correct steering: If your vehicle has begun drifting, turn the wheel slightly if you can into the direction you are drifting. This can help the tires align with the car’s direction and reconnect with the road sooner. This may not always be possible, because sometimes steering does not work when hydroplaning.
- Wait for your 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. However, there are definitely ways to make your vehicle safer during the rainy months. Contact us here at Autoworks with the link below for all of your car’s servicing needs. Our team of experienced mechanics can help make suggestions and installations for tires that can help reduce hydroplaning. This is particularly crucial if you will be traveling through rainy places this season.