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There are many dangers on the road, and one of the least suspecting would be water. For the most part, water is relatively harmless, that is until it gathers together into large amounts. For driving purposes, when large puddles form on roads, this can cause a vehicle to hydroplane.

Hydroplaning is dangerous as it generally only occurs at higher speeds, and it causes you to immediately lose control. Neither of those two things are safe, and when added together, it becomes particularly hazardous.

Reasons For Hydroplaning: 

There are a number of factors that must come together in order for a section of road to gather enough water in order to hydroplane on. There are also a number of factors for your vehicle that contribute to hydroplaning.

Water Depth: The depth of water that stands in a section of road is what truly determines the severity of a hydroplane. Though, different depths affect various cars in different ways. For instance, aquaplaning is similar to hydroplaning except significantly less water is needed, and rather than a barrier being created between the tires and the road, it is more of a lubricant that separates the two. For instance, how you can slide on a freshly mopped floor, but if there were 2 inches of water instead of a glaze, you wouldn’t be able to do the same.

Wheel Tracks and Ruts: Anyone who has driven on a highway has noticed the ruts that heavier vehicles have created in their wake over time. These ruts allow for puddles to form in the length of them. This becomes a problem as most vehicles drive in the ruts as they’re in the exact spot where your tires would be anyhow.

Pavement Cross Slope and Grade: The cross slope is where a road from one side to the other is shaped with the tallest point in the middle, with the other sides being at a lower height. This helps to keep the water from settling on the road, where hydroplaning would become an issue. The result of the cross slope, the slant in the road, is considered the grade.

Width of Pavement: The wider the road, the higher the cross slope gradient must be. This is obviously because the water has to travel further from one side to the other, where more areas may allow for the water to settle if the cross slope is not sufficient enough.

Rainfall Intensity and Duration: The intensity and duration of the rainfall plays a large role in the depth of the water that may be on a road. The harder and longer it rains, essentially allows for more opportunity for puddles to occur. As the water may not be able to drain fast enough.

Vehicle Factors: There are various factors in determining whether your vehicle will end up hydroplaning on a wet road or not. The most critical is obviously going to be the depth of the water, however your vehicle does play a role.

Drivers Speed: The speed at which a vehicle is moving plays a part in the severity of a hydroplane. The slower a vehicle is moving allows the tires to remain in contact with the road more. The faster a vehicle is moving, the more it will skip across the water.

Tire Tread Wear: The tread depth on tires lessens over time and more with use. The more worn a tire is, the more likely it is to hydroplane. A tire that is half-worn will result in hydroplaning by about 3-4 mph slower than with new tires with full tread.

Tire Inflation: A tire that is deflated or deflating will allow the tire to change shape more while driving. When water is hit, the center of the tire that runs down the middle will be pushed in, reducing contact, and thus traction with the road.

Tire Tread Aspect Ratio: The more narrow a tire is, the less likely it will hydroplane. The wider a tire is allows for more surface area to skip atop the water. Tires are designed to shift water out from underneath them while moving, but the rule of thumb to follow is the total tire width.

Vehicle Weight: Weight will only help avoid hydroplaning if the tires are fully inflated. As would be assumed, the heavier a vehicle, the more easily water will be displaced as it moves forward. The lighter the vehicle, the more difficult it is to displace water. But no matter the weight, if the tire pressure is low, your chances to hydroplane increase dramatically.

What Can Be Done To Prevent Hydroplaning:

There are certain measures that can be taken to avoid hydroplaning, so long as attention is given once the conditions have arisen.

Vehicles Factors: Ensuring that the above stated vehicle factors are not an issue will certainly help to keep you from hydroplaning. The speed at which you are driving, the remaining tread on your tires, the size of your tires and whether they are properly inflated, as well as the overall weight of your vehicle all play critical roles in water displacement and keeping traction with the road.   

Do Not Use Cruise Control: When driving on wet or icy roads, be sure you do not use a vehicles cruise control. If you were to begin hydroplaning, ideally you would want to decelerate to slow your speed and keep contact with the road. If you were using cruise control, the vehicle would attempt to remain at whatever speed it was going when it hit the water. This will not help keep control of the vehicle, and does nothing more than prolong the hydroplane.

Avoid Large Puddles: It may go without saying, but you should attempt to avoid large puddles of water if at all possible. This is especially true when driving at faster speeds as even smaller puddles, when moving quickly, can cause a vehicle to hydroplane.

What To Do If Hydroplaning Occurs:

Even if you took and made all of the possible precautions, if you are diving and begin to hydroplane, there are really only two phases that need be accomplished, the recognizing the response of the vehicle hitting the water and the drivers recovery from hydroplaning.

Response Of The Vehicle: If you are driving over wet or slick surfaces, you need to stay aware that your vehicle has kept traction with the road. There are few visual signs that you have lost traction, so you must be alert to a change in the feeling of the moving vehicle.  

Feeling Of The Vehicle: You should try to be aware of the feeling of your vehicle while it is moving. Once a hydroplane occurs, there are going to be slight feelings of shifting to the left or right that otherwise would not be normally felt. Catching this feeling early on will help to warn you that you need to slow down.

Jerking Once Traction Is Regained: Another response of the vehicle is a jerking sensation once traction with the road has been reestablished. Even if you failed to recognize the car hydroplaning, you will be sure to know what’s happening once the car violently jerks.

Recovery From A Hydroplane: 

Once you are in the midst of a hydroplane, there are really only two things that need to occur, you need to decelerate and keep the vehicle pointing straight. Failure to do either of these two things can result in further loss of control, or worse yet, an accident.

Ease Off Accelerator: There are two very important parts to decelerating. One is that you want to remove your foot from the gas, and by no means, do you want to apply the brakes. If you are skidding on water, the spinning of the tire helps to regain traction. If you brake, you turn the spinning wheel essentially into a skipping stone. The tread on a tire is designed to flush water out from underneath it. But this cannot happen if the tire is locked up.  If you desperately need to brake, you must be prepared for the strong jerking motion once traction is regained.

Straight As An Arrow: In the midst of a hydroplane, the most important thing you can do, is keep your vehicle pointing straight. If you begin to drift one way or another, this can result in rolling your vehicle if the angle is too strong. If the rear wheels hydroplane and begin to drift, you need to steer in the direction of the skid until the read tires regain traction. Once traction is regained, you rapidly steer in the other direction to straighten the vehicle out. If the front has lost control, simply keep the tires pointing in the direction you are heading.

Hopefully this article will help a few people to better understand what needs to be done in the midst of a hydroplane. They can be terrifying moments driving, as you do not usually lose total control in this fashion very often, at least not without ice.

The author of this article is Damien S. Wilhelmi, an SEO tactician, SMM strategist, and a skilled subterfuge SEM agent. I am writing on behalf of AAMCO Colorado, who offers the absolute best service for Denver transmission repairs.