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  • Writer's pictureChristian Turnbaugh

What To Do When Hydroplaning

Driving in wet conditions can cause many issues, not limited to longer braking distances and lower visibility, and it can also cause your vehicle to hydroplane.

We all have driven on wet roads or through standing water on the road and felt like you do not have complete control of your vehicle. Unfortunately, this can happen to anyone, and knowing what to do when hydroplaning is essential.

What is Hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning happens when the roads are wet, and the water reduces the traction of your tires which causes your vehicle to slide or skid. Hydroplaning can be scary, but you can take a few precautions to keep yourself and your passengers safe and remain in control of your vehicle.

What Causes Hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning is caused by having too much water between your tires and the road, which can cause your tires to lose contact with the road and, in turn, lose traction. Below are some of the main factors of hydroplaning.

  • Vehicle Speed: When the speed of your tires increases in water, their traction decreases. This becomes more noticeable at speeds over 35mph.

  • Tire Tread Depth: When tires become worn, they, in turn, have less traction, which is exacerbated by the rain. When your tread depth is below 4/32 of an inch, your chances of hydroplaning increase.

  • Depth of Water: The deeper the water, the faster you are likely to lose traction and, in turn, hydroplane. However, it only takes 1/10 of an inch deep of water to hydroplane.

What to do if your car hydroplanes

Hydroplaning can happen to anyone. It does not matter how safely you drive. However, if your vehicle does hydroplane, follow these helpful steps.

  1. Keep calm and try and slow down, do not give into the urge to slam on your brakes. Instead, let your foot off the gas pedal to let the car slow down naturally.

  2. Lightly tap your brakes to increase the friction of your tires with the road.

  3. After regaining control of your vehicle, find a safe location to pull over, take a moment to calm yourself down, and take some deep breaths before continuing.

How to avoid hydroplaning

There are many ways to keep yourself and others safe when hydroplaning. Here are two other helpful tips.

  1. Tire maintenance is essential and should not be overlooked. Regularly check tire inflation, keeping them properly inflated. Check your tread wear and if it gets below 4/32 of an inch.

  2. While cruise control is excellent and many of us often use it, our vehicle's cruise control system sensors are not as reliable on wet roads and could cause you to lose traction.

Hydroplaning can occur to any of us while driving in wet conditions. Knowing what to do and how to properly keep your vehicle under control can keep yourself, passengers, and others around you safe.

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