Driving in wet and rainy conditions can be stressful, especially when your car starts to hydroplane. Hydroplaning is a scary experience when your vehicle loses traction due to the buildup of water on the road. Hydroplaning can happen to anyone, regardless of how experienced of a driver they are. In this article, we will discuss what hydroplaning is, how to prevent it, and what to do if it happens.
What is Hydroplaning?
Hydroplaning occurs when a layer of water builds up between your car’s tires and the road. When this happens, your car loses traction and control, making it difficult to steer, brake or accelerate. Hydroplaning is more likely to happen during heavy rain, when the water on the road exceeds the tires’ capacity to disperse it.
How to Prevent Hydroplaning
Prevention is always better than cure. There are several precautions you can take to reduce the risk of hydroplaning while driving:
Reduce your speed when you encounter wet roads. The slower you go, the more control you have over your vehicle. Reducing your speed allows your tires to maintain better contact with the road, and this will help to avoid hydroplaning.
Check Your Tires:
Make sure your tires are in good condition, with proper tread depth and air pressure. Worn-out or underinflated tires increase the risk of hydroplaning. Check your tires regularly and replace them as needed.
Avoid Standing Water:
Try to avoid standing water on the road as much as possible. If you can’t avoid it, slow down and drive through it carefully. Avoid driving in the tracks of other vehicles, as this can cause your vehicle to hydroplane.
Be Extra Cautious During the First Few Minutes of Rain:
The first few minutes of rainfall can be the most dangerous. The rainwater mixes with the oils and greases on the road, making it slippery. Be extra cautious during this time, and drive slowly until the oils and greases are washed away.
What to Do if Your Car Starts Hydroplaning
Even if you take all the precautions, you may still find yourself in a hydroplaning situation. Here are the steps you should take if your car starts to hydroplane:
The first thing you should do when you notice your car has started to hydroplane is to stay calm. Panicking will only make the situation worse. Keep your cool and stay in control.
Do Not Brake:
Your first instinct may be to hit the brakes, but this will only make things worse. Braking can lock your wheels and cause your car to skid. Instead, take your foot off the accelerator and let your car slow down on its own.
Keep your steering wheel straight and avoid sudden movements. Do not try to over-correct, as this can cause your car to spin out of control. Keep your eyes on the road and steer in the direction you want to go.
Wait for Traction:
As your car slows down, it will eventually regain traction. You will feel your vehicle regain grip, and you will be able to steer again. Once you have regained control, you can slowly accelerate and continue driving.
Hydroplaning can be a scary experience, but with the right precautions and actions, you can stay safe on wet roads. Remember to slow down, check your tires, avoid standing water, and be extra cautious during the first few minutes of rain. If you find yourself in a hydroplaning situation, stay calm, take your foot off the accelerator, keep your steering wheel straight, and wait for traction to return. By following these tips, you can reduce the risk of hydroplaning and stay safe on the road.
Can hydroplaning cause an accident?
Yes, hydroplaning can cause an accident if not handled properly.
Can hydroplaning damage my tires?
Yes, hydroplaning can cause damage to your tires, especially if they are already worn out.
How can I tell if my tires are worn out?
You can tell if your tires are worn out by checking the tread depth. If the tread depth is less than 2/32 of an inch, it’s time to replace your tires.
Is it safe to use cruise control in wet conditions?
No, it’s not safe to use cruise control in wet conditions. Cruise control can cause your car to accelerate and lose control on wet roads.
How often should I check my tires?
You should check your tires at least once a month, and before long trips. Regularly checking your tires can help to prevent hydroplaning and other potential road hazards.