Don’t panic. Don’t hit the brakes. Don’t steer. When your tires are hydroplaning in the middle of a downpour, it’s all easier said than done, but if you’ve read our tips for driving in the rain, you’ll be all the more prepared and able to manage your trip safely.
Before you leave the driveway
Before the rains of spring and fall, take a few minutes to do a bit of vehicle maintenance that will increase your visibility and your wet traction.
- Check to make sure all of your headlights, brake lights, tail lights and signal lights are working so other drivers will be able to see your vehicle in a rainstorm. Whether it’s pouring or not, turn on your headlights to improve your visibility, but don’t use your high beams when passing other drivers.
- Replace windshield wiper blades that are cracked, coming apart or streaking. Your wiper blades should be able to clear your windshield in a single swipe and not leave any streaks. For expert installation and a great selection, visit a Kal location near you.
- Check your tires’ tread depth and inflation. What keeps your vehicle on the road? Your tires. It’s important that you have good tire tread depth and the right tire pressure so you have the traction to brake, corner and steer on wet roads.
While you’re driving through rain
- To make sure you’ve got traction, there may be times when you’ll need to slow down, but it’s hard to get that sense and adjust your speed in time when you’re using cruise control.
- Don’t use your cruise control. In wet conditions, there’s too great a risk that you could lose control of your vehicle. When you’re hydroplaning, the resistance will slow your vehicle down while cruise control will accelerate to maintain your original speed, a dangerous combination.
- Slow down and leave extra room behind other vehicles. Keep your vehicle a good distance from vehicles ahead of you in the city and on the highway to help avoid crashes. Always drive slower in the rain, and the more water there is on the road, the more you should slow down to help ensure your tires maintain contact with the road and prevent hydroplaning.
Avoiding hard braking and turning will help too. If you have to brake, turn or accelerate, try to do one thing at a time to avoid skidding.
- React with care to hydroplaning. If you do get that sense that your vehicle is floating on the water (because your tires have lost contact with the road), try to stay calm and react with caution.
- First, ease up on the gas pedal but don’t hit the brakes—that’s what leads to skidding and loss of control.
- Continue driving straight. If your car veers to the left or right, don’t let your vehicle carry on until you regain traction. Instead, steer your vehicle to keep it straight and avoid other potential hazards.
What did your parents teach you about driving in the rain? Have you ever had a hydroplaning experience? If so, how did you regain control?