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Hydroplaning and the role your tires play

Hydroplaning (sometimes referred to as aquaplaning) is the temporary loss of vehicle control that can happen driving in wet weather. The right tires in good condition can minimize the occurrence of hydroplaning and its potentially hazardous outcomes.

Hydroplaning occurs when your vehicle’s tires encounter more water than they can physically displace. This causes one or more tires to lose contact with the driving surface, resulting in the temporary loss of steering, acceleration, and braking control. This typically happens during and after heavy rain, when water has created pools and puddles in the road.

As your tires wear out, their ability to evacuate water from the contact patch is reduced. Tires with low to worn-out tread are more likely to lose traction and hydroplane in wet conditions than tires with more tread.

Manufacturers make tires that are specifically designed for wet-weather conditions and increased hydroplaning resistance. Directional, asymmetric, and tread patterns featuring deep circumferential grooves typically provide better hydroplaning resistance.

The main factors that can affect tire hydroplaning include:

  • water depth
  • vehicle speed
  • vehicle weight
  • tire width
  • tread depth
  • tread design

A lighter vehicle with tires that have little remaining tread depth will hydroplane at a much slower speed than a heavier vehicle with wide tires and deep tread. However, depending on the severity of the road conditions, hydroplaning can happen to any vehicle, especially when driving at speeds faster than 50 miles per hour.

Tips To Help Prevent Hydroplaning

When driving in wet conditions, be sure to follow these suggestions to avoid hydroplaning.

  • Ensure that your tires are properly inflated.
  • Maintain your tires regularly, particularly checking the tread depth.
  • Maintain a slower speed than you would normally use in dry conditions.
  • Try to avoid puddles and areas that tend to collect and retain water.
  • Avoid hard braking or sudden stopping.
  • Approach curves and turns with extreme caution.
  • Refrain from using cruise control.

If you do hydroplane, try not to panic. Your instincts may tell you to accelerate or to slam on the brakes; it is best not to do either. Any sudden actions could cause the situation to become more dangerous. Instead, gradually decelerate and continue to drive with caution on wet roadways.

If you have any questions or need any assistance, stop by your local Discount Tire and we'll get you taken care of.

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