TIRE CARE & MAINTENANCE
How Does Hydroplaning Occur?
Hydroplaning happens when there is more water on the road than the tire can evacuate from where the tread rubber meets the road. Tires on a vehicle driven on a wet road, can build up water at the leading edge of the tire, pushing water under the tire. If the tire tread can’t efficiently evacuate the water away, it will be forced between the tire and road, and may cause hydroplaning.
How Does My Tire Help Reduce the Chance of Hydroplaning?
Remember, the only thing on your car that touches the ground are your tires. The tire tread depth is the greatest factor in minimizing the chances of hydroplaning. Deeper grooves on the tire give more room for water to be evacuated from the contact patch. As the tire wears, however, the grooves get shallower and the void volume decreases. As tires wear toward their minimum tread depth of 2/32”, they gradually lose the ability to resist hydroplaning. If you’re tire tread depth indicates it’s time for a replacement, find tires for your vehicle here.
When roads become wet, both during and after rainstorms, it increases the possibility of hydroplaning to occur. Below are a set of tips to consider helping minimize the chance of hydroplaning happening while driving, and to help you drive safely on wet surfaces.
- Slow Down: Drive slower. Higher speed increases the chances of hydroplaning.
- No Sudden Stops: Avoid sudden stops or hard braking. Sudden slowing can increase the chances of hydroplaning.
- Avoid Larger Areas of Water: Avoid standing water if possible. If you can’t avoid a deep puddle, drive through it slowly.
- Avoid Outer Highway Lanes: If on a multi-lane highway, avoid the outer lanes. Water tends to pool on those outer lanes of highways, increasing the risk of hydroplaning.
- Stay Within Existing Tire Tracks: If following another car in traffic, try and stay in their tire tracks. That first car has already cleared the road of a good bit of water – it only makes sense to drive where the water isn’t.
- Headlights: First, if it’s wet, turn on your headlights. The light will help you see deep puddles, as well as help others on the road see you. A good rule of thumb – if your windshield wipers are on, so should your headlights.
- Properly Inflated Tires: Make sure your tires are properly inflated, with sufficient tread depth. Underinflated tires will result in a contact patch shape that is not optimized and therefore wet traction may deteriorate.
- First, don’t panic.
- Be smooth with every control of your vehicle – the gas pedal, the brake pedal, and the steering wheel. Don’t slam on the brakes, which could lead to a skid. Conversely, stepping on the gas can cause you to lose even more traction. Just ease up on the gas pedal to slow the vehicle’s speed.
- Gradually steer the car in the direction you want to go – gently. Just a slight turn of the wheel can help you regain traction. Sudden, jerky movements, however, can lead to a further loss of control.
What to do Next:
If you’re not sure about whether your tires are up to the task of avoiding hydroplaning, schedule an appointment for a tire inspection at a Goodyear dealer near you, or alternatively, you could buy a new set today. Your Goodyear dealer can look at the tread wear on your current tires and help make recommendations to enhance your tire performance on the road ahead.