Tires And Hydroplaning: What's The Connection?

Tires And Hydroplaning: What's The Connection?

Once you get your driver's license and get behind the wheel, you also take on some responsibilities. You undertake to be as cautious and responsible as possible, for your safety and that of those around you. Your responsibility as a driver is not only to drive correctly. This also requires some basic knowledge about how to behave in certain risky situations. The risky situations can be any: an inattentive pedestrian crossing the road irregularly, unfavorable weather conditions, or hydroplaning. It is your moral duty to know how to react correctly and what precautions to take.

While many know how to drive safely in adverse weather conditions, few know what to do to control, or better yet, avoid hydroplaning. But what does this mean, first of all? How does a vehicle undergo this phenomenon? What influences hydroplaning and what role do tires play in this whole topic of discussion?
There are many questions but few answers. So you probably deduce that we are going to talk about hydroplaning in this article. I will cover as many aspects as possible so that you act like a pro at the end of the article. Long story short, let's get down to business.

Starting With The Definition of "Hydroplaning"

This phenomenon is specific exclusively in wet road conditions. Hydroplaning refers to the situation in which the car's tires lose optimal contact with the road due to the flow of water. After losing this contact, the car becomes severely unstable on the road and it seems that it glides across the water instead of providing a steady and firm position in relation to the road. All this leads to a delayed reaction both during straight driving and during braking and turning.

The bad part of things is the water between the tire and the road can lead to a total loss of control over the steering wheel. And it is wrong to think that hydroplaning is possible only in conditions of heavy rains. The phenomenon is likely with any wet surface, including after snow melts. At the same time, some water channels can overflow onto the roads and cause hydroplaning, even if it is not an abundant overflow.

The idea is that you have to be prepared for a potential hydroplaning, even if the sky shows no sign of a potential rain. And if you know that the phenomenon is possible in any situation, you are always ready to react accordingly. See how different tires brake differently in wet conditions

What Are The Influencing Factors On Hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning is likely for almost any type of vehicle. It's just that some are more prone than others. Tires are an influencing factor. Tire treads are not just a cosmetic element for tires. These, in fact, are intended to remove any type of barrier between the tires and the road, including water.

Manufacturers spend many hours creating the most effective techniques and architectures for the tire to remove water as efficiently as possible. In this context, the balder the tire is, the more likely the hydroplaning effect is. And, likely, a very heavy car is also prone to this effect if it has bald tires. So, the weight of the car is not an obstacle to the phenomenon of hydroplaning. However, we must admit that a lighter car is much more prone to hydroplaning than a heavy one.

Another aspect related to tires is the speed with which the car rolls on the road. Even with good tires, a car can hydroplane if it has high speed. The reason is that the tires don't manage to remove the water because the speed is too high. So speed is another factor of influence.

The conclusion is that we can somehow influence the hydroplaning potential of our vehicles. If you opt for good tires and a reasonable speed, the hydroplaning effect will be considerably reduced.

How Can We Prevent Hydroplaning?

As you already know, one of the essential factors is the speed with which you drive. With a sufficient amount of water on the road, the car will likely begin to hydroplane even at 35 mph. It is not difficult to figure out what you have to do to avoid the phenomenon. That's right, you just have to slow down.

As for the other factor, i.e. the condition of the tires, it is also not difficult to deduce what you have to do. You just have to keep your tires in optimal condition and replace them when they no longer serve their purpose. Many drivers, unfortunately, wear tires until they become completely bald, which is not right and very dangerous, by the way.

The tires must have grooves and sipes as well-contoured and deep as possible to cope with the flow of water on the road. Keep in mind that the car starts hydroplaning at a speed of only 50 km/h. If your tires are not up to the mark, you could undergo risky situations even at this low speed. In this context, equip yourself with reliable tires against hydroplaning, like Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus, 

How To Handle a Potential Hydroplaning?

As in other emergencies on the road, your reaction is what matters when you are still subject to the phenomenon of hydroplaning. Of course, the easiest way is to tell you to slow down when you know that there is a wet section of road ahead. But we cannot always foresee a wet road and we must react promptly and, most importantly, safely. Let's see the reaction you can have, and the action you should take. Many times, our reaction can be instinctive because the survival instinct is activated and you can't really think rationally at that moment. However, keep in mind these recommendations that may come in handy someday.

Panic As A Primary Reaction

It's normal to panic when the car starts behaving strangely because of hydroplaning. You think about your safety and that of those around you. But you have no idea what you have to do to make it right. So you react with panic. Try to get up the courage, because you simply have no other solution. Either you take matters into your own hands and regulate the situation, or you lose yourself and control over the car. The first impulse may be to hit the brakes suddenly. Is this a good idea?

No, Hitting The Brakes Is Not An Option

Keep in mind that with hydroplaning, the car loses traction in relation to the road. Once you brake suddenly, the car regains aggressive traction with the road and just starts spinning around. Most likely your ABS will control your sudden braking. However, it is not good to rely only on this system. It minimizes the risks but does not reduce them completely.

Is Swerving An Option?

No, that's not a good idea either. Keep in mind that what you need most at this moment is as slow and gradual movements as possible. If you need to turn according to the direction you are going, do it slowly with steady movements. Any sudden maneuver increases the risk of losing control.

It's Not All That Bad

Drivers who have faced this phenomenon talk about a very intense experience on the one hand, but still manageable on the other hand. So, your primary goal in these circumstances is to reduce the speed of the vehicle. If there is any possibility of reaching a dry portion of the road, go towards it. Keep in mind what I said about sudden moves. Do not turn quickly and aggressively. You have to do all the movements as slowly as possible. You will feel how you regain control of the vehicle once its speed decreases.

If there are no dry sections of the road, continue the drive by gradually taking your foot off the accelerator. At the same time, you can start the braking process, but VERY GRADUALLY. Go with reduced speed to the maximum until you feel that you have regained full control over the car.

How Do You Prepare For Rainy Weather?

Thank God that we have weather apps on our smartphones and it is not difficult to know when an intense rain awaits you. Rains are inevitable and necessary. At the same time, they should make us think about how to prepare our car to face the potential of hydroplaning.

The first thing you must not forget is to check the tire pressure. The manufacturers have demonstrated that tires with low pressure are very prone to hydroplaning. At the same time, they provide a longer stopping distance in both dry and wet road conditions. On the other hand, overinflated wheels increase the risk of the car getting unstable on the road. And you don't want such an effect during the rain, do you?

The second thing on your radar must be the tread depth inspection. As you know, tire depth plays an essential role in the stability of the car on the road. The shallower the tires, the more you will hydroplane on the wet road.

What Are The Best Tires To Deal With Hydroplaning?

Summer tires are the most sensitive when it comes to the ability to withstand hydroplaning. The reason is their treads, which are usually not very deep and not too complex to remove water efficiently. On the other hand, winter, all-season, and all-weather tires are very effective. The reason is again - their grooves and sipes that repel water.

However, manufacturers take into account the effect of hydroplaning when creating summer tires. So, most of them are quite effective and face hydroplaning quite promisingly. For an everyday ride, you shouldn't have much trouble with them as long as you respect the speed limits. In addition, tires of other categories also have superb control in hydroplaning conditions. So, it's important to choose a tire wisely. 

It is important that, regardless of the type of tire, you keep it in optimal condition. Recommended pressure and tread depth must be the number one priority. At the same time, don't forget the periodic rotation of the tires, which has a direct effect on the car's performance when driving in wet conditions.

The phenomenon of hydroplaning is a risk factor for anyone and anywhere. But as much as drivers fear it, they forget an important aspect: hydroplaning is mainly catastrophic when the driver is irresponsible. If the tires are optimal and the driving speed is within reasonable limits, the risk is minimal and the situation is mostly manageable.

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