The Basics of Hydroplaning
Updated: Apr 28
With the rainy season upon us, the chances of running into a hydroplaning situation will only be getting worse. We’ve all probably heard of hydroplaning, and have a decent understanding of where and when it can happen, but exactly what is hydroplaning? We explain this phenomenon and what to do if you start to hydroplane here.
What is Hydroplaning?
A vehicle’s tire treads are designed to move water, snow, etc… out of the way so that the rubber of the tire can come into contact with the road’s surface. Hydroplaning happens when a vehicle’s tires encounter more water on the road than they can wick away. This means there will be water between the tire’s rubber and the road itself which causes the vehicle to drift or skid uncontrollably, or “hydroplane”, until the tires can come back into contact with the road.
What Increases the Chance of Hydroplaning?
Hydroplaning can happen at any point there is precipitation on the roadways. The chances of a hydroplaning incident are increased during the first 10 minutes of a rain storm. This is because there are oils from vehicles sitting on the roadway, and the rain washes these oils away during the beginning of a rainstorm. These oils will make the roadways extra slippery leading to more hydroplaning.
How to Avoid Hydroplaning
The best way to avoid hydroplaning is to not drive during a rainstorm. Obviously, this isn’t practical for all situations so here are some other tips to help:
Rotate tires regularly; this will ensure they are in the best shape possible when it does rain.
Keep vehicle tires properly inflated.
Avoid standing water.
Drive slower. The faster you drive, the more water your tires will have to wick away.
Drive in the left-most lane when possible. Roads are built to move water from the center of the road to the outside.
Avoid cornering or braking too sharply.
Replace your tires when the tread depth reaches 4/32″ because low tire tread leaves less room for water channeling.
To ensure your vehicle’s tires are able to properly prevent hydroplaning, bring your vehicle into a Maryland tire service center and let them service your car and check your tires.
What to Do if you Start Hydroplaning
If you start to hydroplane, don’t panic. Slamming on the breaks, or over-correcting your tires can lead to worse situations. Calmly, remove your feet from the breaks and gas, and keep your tires pointed in the direct your car is moving. Hopefully your tires will catch again, and if you have them facing the direction of where you are moving this will allow you to regain control and slowly press the breaks.
For help with keeping your vehicle maintained, and to have a professional look at your vehicle’s tires to ensure they are fit for driving, bring your vehicle into Hillmuth Auto Care. Here at Hillmuth we’ve been the area’s trusted automotive repair center for nearing 40 years. To schedule an appointment, find a Hillmuth location nearest you, or fill out the form on our website, today!