Here in Minnesota we most often associate vehicle skidding and sliding with winter driving.  However as many of you probably learned this weekend, a rain soaked road can also have a big impact on your vehicle stability.

 

Image by Nitto Tire. http://www.nittotire.com/tiretechnology/DrivingTips

Hydroplaning occurs when the water in front of your tires builds up quicker than the tread can take it away.  The water pressure causes your car to rise up and a layer of water to exist between the road and your tires.  It is important to know how to both prevent and to manage hydroplaning during rainy drives.

Below we’ve outlined 7 steps to avoid vehicle hydroplaning.

1.  It may seem like a no brainer, but the condition and tread depth of your tires has a huge impact on the way your car drives during all seasons.  The best way to determine if you have enough tread is to simply put a penny in your tire tread.  If you can see Lincoln’s head above the tread your tires are worn and need to be replaced.

 

 

2.  In addition to having tires with healthy tread it’s also a good idea to always make sure your tires are properly inflated.  If you open up the driver’s door of your car you’ll find a sticker on the door pillar that outlines the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle.  Not only does a properly inflated tire maximize your traction, it will also increase your fuel economy.  And we all can appreciate fewer trips to the pump.
3.  Be a proactive driver.  If it is raining you need to slow down.  The wet roads reduce the handling limits of your car.   Maneuvers you can do at 55 miles per hour on a dry road are not always possible on a wet road.  In fact, when you exceed 35 miles per hour your odds of hydroplaning go up dramatically.  Unfortunately, many people don’t realize this until it’s too late

This is Kyle pretending to be an attentive driver

4.  In the wet, try to follow the tire tracks of the in front of you while maintaining a safe distance.  Avoid large puddles and standing water.
5.  Avoid the use of cruise control in the rain.   While on the topic, avoid it in the wet and when you are tired.
6.  If the roads are wet, it’s also very important to steer, brake and accelerate with a soft touch.  Abrupt actions can easily unsettle a car on a wet road.  A good analogy for braking and accelerating is to pretend that there is an orange under your pedals.  When you brake or accelerate you want to make juice, not destroy your orange and send pulp all over the place.
7.  If you find yourself hydroplaning, employ the light touch noted above.  Slowly ease of the gas and carefully steer in the direction you want to move.  Avoid hitting the brakes as doing so can upset the balance of the car.  Only if you start skidding should you hit the brakes (if ABS equipped and steer into the skid.