What Is Hydroplaning?
If water on the road is deeper than the tread of the tires, a fast moving vehicle may glide over the water and not touch the road surface. This condition is called hydroplaning. A slight change of direction or a gust of wind could throw your car into a skid. If you can see reflections on the pavement, or the car ahead leaves no tracks on the water, your car could hydroplane. To avoid hydroplaning:
- Drive slowly.
- Have good tire tread.
- Have tires properly inflated.
- If possible, steer around water.
- If you hear a slushing sound from the tires, especially when changing directions, slow down.
When a car hydroplanes the most important thing to remember is not to panic. First, do not brake or accelerate suddenly. Since hydroplaning is a loss of traction to the front tires sudden braking slows the front tires but locks the rear tires which can cause a spin out. Also sudden acceleration could pull the vehicle straight ahead which could be dangerous if the vehicle is pointed toward the edge of the roadway.
What you should do depends on the type of vehicle you are in. If you are in a front wheel drive with or without ABS and traction control or a rear wheel drive with ABS and traction control and you begin to hydroplane, you should look for open space and plan to travel in that direction. Stay lightly on the accelerator and steer gently toward the open space you have identified. If you are in a rear wheel drive without ABS and traction control then look for open space and plan to travel in that direction. Ease off the accelerator and steer toward the open space you have identified.
It’s also important not to have the cruise control engaged in heavy rain due to a sudden acceleration problem. The vehicle will recognize the build-up of water as a slow down and ask for more power. This may cause the car to shift to a lower gear and build even more water under the tires. When it comes to speed on a wet road, slow down by about one third of what you would normally drive.
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