tires March 31, 2017

411 on Hydroplaning

You know the saying: April showers bring May flowers. It is March 31, which means the ‘month of rain’ starts tomorrow. Wiygul Automotive Clinic wants to be sure you and your vehicle are safe in all weather conditions, so to prepare for the anticipated wet roads during the month of April, let’s discuss hydroplaning.

What is hydroplaning?

Have you ever felt your vehicle slide or skid while driving on a wet road? That was probably your vehicle hydroplaning. Hydroplaning can occur on any wet road surface, usually when a car is traveling over 35 mph. When rain or snow mixes with oil residue on the road, it creates slippery conditions that can cause vehicles to skid.

How does hydroplaning happen?

Your tires’ treads (the grooves) are designed to push water out from underneath your tire. Hydroplaning happens when pressure from water in front of your tires pushes water under the tires, causing your tires to glide on the water. When this happens, your car temporarily loses contact and traction with the road.

How can I prevent hydroplaning?

1.            Keep your tires properly inflated

2.            Rotate your tires at the recommended intervals

3.            Replace your tires if they are worn to 2/32nds of tread (end of a tire’s tread life)

4.            Lower your speed when the roads are wet

5.            Keep a look out for puddles and standing water

6.            Avoid driving in the outer lanes of a highway or sidewalk, where water tends to accumulate

7.            Don’t use cruise control

8.            Keep your distance from the car in front of you to avoid slamming on your brakes

9.            Don’t turn too quickly or sharply

What should I do if I start to hydroplane?

DON’T slam on the brakes - It will be your instinct to slam on the brakes to slow down and regain control of your vehicle; however, that is not what you should do. Instead, slowly release your foot from the gas pedal and let the vehicle slow itself down. Keep a good grip on your steering wheel and direct the car in the direction you want it to go.

Brake gradually - If your vehicle has regular brakes, you should use gentle pumps, rather than steady pressure. If your car has anti-lock brakes (most newer model cars do) you can brake normally – but again, do not slam on your brakes! Once your tires make contact with the road again, you can use your brakes to gradually slow down.

Get back in control - Once you have slowed down and your tires have regained traction with the road, you can begin to drive normally again. You might be a little startled by the incident, so when the roads are wet, keep in mind that you should drive more slowly than you would on a sunny day.

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