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Tire Service Blog

What To Do (& What Not To Do) When You Hydroplane

First and for most let's go over the DONT'S: 

Do not panic. Panicking will only make it harder for you to think clearly and avoid danger.

Do not slam on your brakes. Slamming on your brakes will cause your vehicle to hydroplane more severely. Depending on the type of braking system that your vehicle has, slamming on your brakes could also cause a spinout, which puts you in even more danger.

Do not rely on your cruise control in hard rain. Turn it off, to reduce the risk of losing control.

Now, here are a few strategies to do when you do hydroplane:

The specific strategy that you should use depends on where your drive wheels are. If you do not know whether you have a front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive vehicle, check with your local dealership. You could also check your vehicle owner's manual.

If you have a Front-Wheel Drive Vehicle -

In a front-wheel drive vehicle with traction control and an antilock brake system (ABS),  head for an open area either in the lane in front of you or on the side of the road. Do not swerve. The hydroplane should not last long, but you need a bit of distance to regain control of the vehicle. Push very lightly on the vehicle's accelerator as you steer towards the empty space. This will give your vehicle time to adjust to the new driving environment and give you greater control.

If you have a Rear-Wheel Drive Vehicle -

In a rear-wheel drive vehicle without traction control or ABS, you need to use a slightly different approach. Again, look for an empty area that will give you some space to regain control of the vehicle. Steer in the direction of the empty area. Instead of applying pressure to the accelerator, slowly ease off it. You might not need to decelerate so much that the vehicle comes to a complete stop. Ideally, you will regain control before the vehicle stops. Prepare yourself for this possibility by staying focused. If you need to bring your vehicle to a complete stop, make sure you move to the side of the road and turn on your emergency flashers.

Preparing Your Vehicle for Rainy Weather

Just as you should know what to do when you hydroplane, you should also know how to take care of your vehicle so that it is less likely to lose traction in rainy driving conditions.

Inflation Pressure

Check your tires' air pressure on a regular basis. Underinflated tires cause increased stopping distance and risk of hydroplaning. 

Tread Depth

Check the tires' treads regularly. If they have worn down, then you need to replace them. You should also check for uneven treadwear. Worn treads are one of the leading causes of hydroplaning.

Written on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 by
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