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How to Prevent Hydroplaning

If you’ve ever felt your car “get away from you” on wet pavement, even for an instant, chances are you experienced hydroplaning. It’s scary at best, and can be downright lethal at worst.

Hydroplaning is what happens when your tires are overwhelmed by more water than they can scatter or channel away. The water pressure at the leading edge of the tire’s contact patch pushes water under the tire, and eventually enough water builds up that the tire loses contact with the road surface. The thin film of water between the rubber and road means a loss of braking, traction and steering control.

The first ten minutes of a light rain are actually the worst in terms of hydroplaning. In that ten minutes, the oil and rubber residue on the surface doesn’t have time to wash away, and instead mixes with the light rain, making for slippery conditions.

Sooo…here are some suggestions to avoid hydroplaning, and what to do if you feel it happening: 

  • Keep tires properly inflated
  • Rotate tires and replace when they get below 2/32” tread depth
  • Slow down and keep an eye out for standing water on highways
  • Turn off cruise control
  • Avoid hard braking and abrupt maneuvers
  • Try to stay in the tire tracks of the cars in front of you
  • Not to sound like a driver’s ed teacher, but…allow greater following distances in wet weather. Longer distances mean that you have more time to react and more time to stop.