What You Need to Know about Hydroplaning
June 8 , 2009
Summer thunderstorm season is right around the corner. That means slick roads, limited visibility and yes, hydroplaning. Here are the facts you need to know.
What it is
Hydroplaning occurs when built-up water on roadways is not sufficiently pushed out of the way by your vehicle’s tires when going at a regular or high speed. The water then causes your vehicle to rise and slide on top of a thin layer of water between your tires and the road. All traction is lost in less than a second and you have very limited control of your vehicle.
What to do if it happens
If you find yourself hydroplaning, stay calm. Don’t brake or turn suddenly. Ease your foot off the gas, and hold the wheel firmly. Do not steer in any direction other than straight. If you do need to brake — and don’t have anti-lock brakes — do so gently with a pumping action.
How to prevent it
Drive slowly and carefully when it’s raining or there is water on the road. Take your time around curves and steer and brake with smooth, light touches. Most of America’s roads are crowned, meaning water will run to the sides and puddles will accumulate. Knowing this, keep towards the middle of the road and drive in the tire tracks left by cars in front of you.
Also, if you see a puddle up ahead, steer clear of it or choose another route. And, be extra cautions at intersections where engine oil and water mix, creating extremely slick spots.
And last but not least, avoid using cruise control. There is a chance that your car will accelerate if you hydroplane, and your reaction time will be slower if using cruise control.
After a long, hard winter, now’s the perfect time to check your vehicle’s condition. Be sure your tires are properly inflated and have good tread size, pattern and depth. Check that your windshield wipers are in good condition and are working properly. Also check the functionality of your headlights and defroster, as both can help with visibility in rainy weather.