Understanding Hydroplaning

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Hydroplaning can be nerve rattling for any driver. And just because we live in the desert doesn’t mean we get a free pass. Believe or not drought prone areas can be even more prone to perfect hydroplaning conditions. Knowing a little bit more about this road hazard could literally save a life.

What Is Hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning is that nerve rattling moment when a combination of conditions can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. When rain water builds up it can create a layer in between your car’s tires and the actual road. This water layer can prevent your cars tread from gripping the surface of the road. Tread is the physical surface of your tires that touches the road and help your car going forward. Hydroplaning occurs when the loss of contact between the road and the tires causes loss of steering, control or even sends a car into spins.

What Causes hydroplaning?

A perfect storm of conditions can cause hydroplaning. Certain road conditions, rain, and quality of tires can all be factors in hydroplaning. However the two main factors are speed and depth of the water. Speeds over 35-45mph usually increase the risk. Throw in bald tires in there, and you’ll almost be sure to spin away the next rainy day.

Preventive Steps to Avoid Hydroplaning

Hi Star Auto offers you some safety measures that you can add to your preventative maintenance checklist.

Maintain The Health Of Your Tires

Make sure you maintain the optimum health of your tires for best safety in rainy conditions. Rotating tires, keeping on top of alignment and making sure the tread isn’t worn down can be be your defense against a rainy day skid out.

Check The Air Pressure

Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Low pressure in your car’s tire only add to the likelihood of hydroplaning.

Follow The Leader

Your tires tread will be more likely to make contact with the roads surface if you try and follow the tracks of the cars in front of you. Those tracks have most likely cut into the layer of rain that can cause hydroplaning.

Layoff The Cruise Control

When conditions seem ripe for hydroplaning, it’s best to avoid using cruise control. You need to have full control of your speed when mitigating the loss of control as a result of hydroplaning.

If All Else Fails..

If all else fails and you find yourself in an unintended Tokyo drift nerve rattling slide follow some of these steps to help get you through.

Make sure you remain calm, and breathe. Allowing the fear to take control can cause you to overcompensate. trying to oversteer can have disastrous effects and cause the car to go into a full on spin. Just make sure that you maintain the steering as you would driving normally, keeping the car in the direction of the road.

Take it easy on the brakes. When your car is fishtailing down the highway, it might seem like braking would be the sure way to go. When in reality it is actually the opposite. Pumping or slamming on the brakes may cause the car to skid out even more. Try and let of the accelerator first, decrease the speed gradually and therefore more controlled. If brakes are necessary, then make sure they are applied as controlled and lightly as possible.

Did we mention breathing?

Hydroplaning can be truly frightening, but remaining calm will help you react, making the right decisions. Remember that just because we live in the desert that we shouldn’t worry about rain related road hazards. But in fact, the massive buildup of oil on the road rarely being washed out makes Las Vegas area roads more prone to hydroplaning conditions.

We would rather help service your tires, alignment, then see you in our body shop. Be safe out there!