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Hydroplaning: What it means and how to avoid it

You’re probably wondering what “hydroplane” means. No, it’s not one of those planes that lands on water, but good guess. Hydroplaning happens when a layer of water gets in between your tire and the surface of the road.

When this happens, your tire will slide on top of the water, like a water skier. While that’s good for water skiing, it’s bad for driving. If your tires hydroplane, your vehicle could slide, steer out of control or lose braking ability. Now, don’t worry. You don’t need to be afraid of rain. Here are a few things you need to know about hydroplaning:

Common causes of hydroplaning

The Road: hydroplaning is most likely to happen on wet asphalt, pavement or other smooth surfaces.

The Weather: hydroplaning conditions are more likely to happen during a heavy rain storm.

Speed: it’s harder for your tires to disperse water if you’re driving at high speeds. Hydroplaning is more likely to occur at higher speeds.

Tire Tread Depth: tires with low tread depth, or worn out tires are more susceptible to hydroplaning.

How can I prevent hydroplaning?

First, make sure the tread on your tires is in good shape. Worn out tires have less wet grip and are at higher risk of hydroplaning. Worn out tires are dangerous and should be replaced with new tires immediately. Not sure how to check your tire tread depth? No problem, take a quick peek at our Penny Test page. It’s easy and a good place to start. Good tire maintenance is always important – rain or shine, so make sure your tires are always properly inflated, rotated and balanced. Second, slow down and avoid standing water. Staying alert in the rain will always help reduce your chances of hydroplaning.

What to do If you hydroplane

  • Don’t panic.
  • Ease off the gas pedal to slow the vehicle’s speed.
  • Hold the wheel steady.
  • Don’t slam your brakes. If you don’t have ABS on your vehicle lightly pump the brakes to reduce speed. On vehicles with ABS apply the brakes with steady pressure.
  • If you need to, safely pull over and wait until the weather improves.

Get the right set of tires for wet roads

If your daily drives are rain soaked, do yourself a favor and consider getting a set of tires that can handle wet conditions.