You’ve heard of them all. Hot and cold, up and down, male and female, Batman and the Joker. You can’t have one without the other. The one that’s not so famous? Traction and hydroplaning. In order to hydroplane, you first need to have traction. Traction is the force that exists between the tires on your car and the pavement underneath them. When these two meet, you get forward motion.
But what happens when water coats the surface you’re driving on? Tires, even with new tread, can’t gain the traction needed to stay on the road and hydroplaning occurs. Hydroplaning simply means you slide on a thin layer of water between your tires and the ground. It happens when tires move too quickly over a wet surface, not allowing enough time for tires to displace the water to get in contact with the road.
How To Avoid Hydroplaning
Even though you might not be able to completely eliminate the possibility of hydroplaning, you can do a few things to help avoid it and keep you and other drivers safe.
- Reduce Your Speed
Rain is always dangerous, from the first ten minutes to a torrential downpour. But in the beginning, the first few drops release any dried up oil and gunk creating a slicker surface, and once the water starts to stand, hydroplaning is possible. It’s recommended to drive at least 10mph slower to lessen the chance of hydroplaning.
- Don’t Use Cruise Control
Even if you utilize your cruise at a reduced speed, that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter a deeper puddle than your tires are designed to handle. In this case, if you do hydroplane, it’ll take you longer to try to regain control while disabling the cruise.
- Drive in the Tracks of the Cars Ahead of You
This just makes sense. Right?
- Avoid Puddles
If you see them, avoid them. And if you can’t, then just try to slow down before you hit it. Never slam on the brakes while hydroplaning! (Find out why below)
- Tire Check!
Make sure you have the appropriate tread depth, tire pressure, and that you’ve rotated your tires regularly. All of these can affect your grip on the road. So be smart and check your tires before traveling in dangerous weather.
How to Regain Traction
So you couldn’t avoid it and you’re hydroplaning. Don’t panic (too much). There are ways to safely recover.
- Take Your Foot off the Gas
Never EVER hit the brakes to try to stop from hydroplaning. Once you hydroplane, the only thing that helps is reduced speed, but braking can cause your car to spin out, putting you in serious danger.
- Turn the Wheel (?!)
If you’re car is turning and heading toward a spinout, gently turn your steering wheel in the direction that you are hydroplaning. Similar to when you’re losing control in the snow, turning into the skid helps gain control and realigns your vehicle.
- Wait To Regain Traction
Most hydroplaning situations last only a few seconds, so take the steps above, remain calm, and get your tires back on the ground. Once you do, and you’ll know it, continue to drive and be aware of any spots up ahead where hydroplaning might again be possible and go slower!
Techniques to avoid hydroplaning are key, but it’s much easier to just make sure your tires are in tip-top shape. Check your tires regularly since tire pressure can change monthly and tread can wear unevenly.