Wet Roads Can Be Trouble - How Are Your Tires?
If you’ve ever been on a wet highway and suddenly felt somewhat disconnected from the road, chances are your vehicle was beginning to hydroplane. You’ve probably heard the term before, but what exactly does it mean?
Your tires’ treads are designed to clear water away from the contact patch, the section of the tire that actually stays in contact with the road at any given time. The grooves that run around the tire’s circumference, the sipes cut into the tread and other tread elements are designed to evacuate the wedge of water that builds up at the leading edge of the contact patch, channeling it safely behind the tire as you move down the road. Some tires can do this more effectively than others, but…no worn tires can evacuate water very well.
In the moment that a car hydroplanes, a film of water builds up between the tires and pavement, essentially turning the vehicle into an unguided sled. Paradoxically enough, this is more likely to happen on pavement that’s only lightly or moderately wet, rather than while driving through a deep puddle. So how can you avoid hydroplaning, and how should you respond if you feel it happening?
- Do not overcorrect the car’s steering wheel. If you turn the wheel too drastically, the car is likely to jerk off-track suddenly when the front wheels get traction again.
- Control and road feel are important – that’s why it’s NOT advisable to use cruise control in wet weather conditions.
- Don’t hit the brakes suddenly – instead, let off the gas pedal and let the car slow itself down.
- Most importantly, don’t drive too fast. Use your common sense, and if you suspect you might be in danger of losing control, slow down.
Probably the best thing you can do for yourself to ward off the danger of hydroplaning, however, is to make sure you have tires with plenty of tread! Tires with tread grooves that are worn to a point of being too shallow are much more prone to skating across wet surfaces, rather than moving water away and behind. What kind of shape are your tires in? With wet weather coming in the spring and early summer, make an appointment with Boyd’s Tires today to have them checked!