Aquaplaning - What is it and can it be avoided?
What is aquaplaning?
Aquaplaning, also referred to as hydroplaning, occurs when one or more of your tyres encounters more water on a road than they are able to expel. It drastically decreases the safety of your vehicle.
Aquaplaning occurs when a wedge of water is driven under the tyre, lifting it away from the road surface. This reduces the tyre's friction with the road that usually enables a driver to control the speed and direction of their vehicle. If this occurs to all four tyres at once, the vehicle will experience a complete loss of control, forcing the driver to lose the ability to steer and brake.
How can you reduce the risk of aquaplaning?
Whilst there are no certain precautions to prevent your vehicle from aquaplaning, there are ways in which you can reduce the risk of it occurring.
1. Driving habits
While aquaplaning can occur at any speed, slowing down when the conditions are wet can reduce the risk. Driving slower will not only increase the friction between the tyre and road surface, it will also give you more time to react to sections of deep water on the road.
Ensure that you give yourself greater braking distances from other road users when driving in wet conditions.
When road conditions are wet, it is also recommended that you refrain from using cruise control as this can deliver a burst of power as the vehicle starts to aquaplane, which only exacerbates the issue.
2. Condition of your tyres
It’s important to maintain correct tyre pressures as per the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. When your tyres are either over or under inflated, they experience greater difficulty in handling water due to their decreased tread contact patch.
Ensure that your tyres have sufficient tread depth. In Australia, the minimum legal tread depth is 1.5mm. Tyre tread contributes to your vehicle’s ability to effectively brake and corner. Suitable tread is also essential for effective water dispersion.
Adhering to the recommended wheel alignment and tyre balancing schedule, as outlined in the owner’s manual is another important factor. This will help to promote even tyre wear, and reduce the risk of your tyres developing bald spots that could make your vehicle more prone to aquaplaning.
If you find yourself aquaplaning…
When your car aquaplanes, you experience total loss of vehicle control. It can be extremely stressful and difficult to know what to do. While there is no definitive way to avoid aquaplaning, here are some tips as to what you can do should it ever occur:
- Do your best to remain calm
- Immediately ease your foot off the accelerator
- Avoid sudden use of the brakes, pump them rather than pressing down hard until you regain control of your vehicle
- Avoid drastic movement of the steering wheel, steer slowly into the the slide
Aquaplaning poses a significant safety concern, particularly during times of heavy rainfall. If you have any concerns about the condition of your tyres, contact your nearest BestDrive store.
We can assess the condition of your current tyres and advise you if your vehicle requires a wheel alignment and tyre balancing service. In instances where your vehicle requires new tyres, we supply and fit a great range of tyres from leading brands, including Continental, Kumho, BFGoodrich and Hifly to suit most makes and models.
BestDrive. You drive, we care.